Sunday, June 23, 2013

Active Imagination with photographic images, not dreams

The Serpent
CC Jean Stimmell
C. G. Jung discovered active imagination out of his own need of self-healing. Active Imagination involved opening oneself up to the unconscious and giving free rein to fantasy, while at the same time, maintaining an active attentive conscious point of view: in a nutshell, he devised a method allowing himself to dialogue with his dream subjects. I am using this same process with this image of the serpent which appeared to me unexpectedly out of the corner of my eye, as if as in a dream. (see the original, untouched photograph of Snake at the bottom of this page)

While walking through the dark forest, I am confronted by Snake disguised as a red lichen-tinged, broken-off stub of a pine tree branch, still attached to the mother tree.

Snake, who are you? You don’t shiver my timbers with sheer terror like those giant serpents of old, promising certain death to any man who dared to sail his ship into uncharted waters, past the boundaries of the known world. [1]

Neither do you seem benign and spiritually uplifting like the snakes depicted in Native American petroglyphs coiled in an open-ended spiral representing continuity and,  through the never-ceasing cycle of death and rebirth, everlasting life.

Snake, you appear assertive, somewhere in between friendly and deadly, but like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder-less shoulder.

You’re damn right, replies Snake. I’m here to kick your ass and lead the way.  Paraphrasing William Blake: The fact that you can see a whole new realm in a broken off, dead pine stub means you are on the cusp of a new way of seeing and being, deeper and more real than your own.

Don’t stop now!

I am the portal you must enter to finish the job, to cleanse the doors of your perception until you see infinity in my face, leaving behind Apples, iPhones, and your whole rational brain addicted to facts and computer logic – far worse than a brain on drugs. Leaving behind abstracted science obsessed with how many quacks can dance on the head of a pin while the real world burns. Leaving behind mumbling bureaucrats speaking word salad statistics and politicians in baggy suits afraid to take a stand. Leaving behind gray flannel suits, Wall Street, designer jeans, genetically modified plants  and Madison-Avenue-modified people.

I represent the portal you must enter: the wild cry of the loon in the dead of the night, the sun rising out of the Atlantic on summer solstice, serpents, gods, goddesses, grand mythological drama, petty jealousies, sweat-soaked passions, and most of all, the resurgence of the real: a roiling tsunami of pure IMAGINATION finally unleashed on the world.

Snake, I had trouble taking you seriously after stumbling upon you yesterday like a sharp stick in the eye.  But now I think you have had your way with me: I went to bed last night and had fantastical dreams of ecstatic rapture with Mother Nature in the woods behind my house and then a passionate fling with Aphrodite.

Perhaps you do represent my coiled desire, intuition, creativity, my imagination – finally casting out an entire age of stale thoughts and rational despair – to swing freely like the primate I really am from tree to tree, from the serpent’s lair into the great unknown.

[1] From Temple of the Sacred Feminine by Sheila Foster:
Original untouched photograph taken at Wagon Wheel Farm, 6/22/13
CC Jean Stimmell

Friday, June 21, 2013

We are all characters in a vast story

Stoneface   CC Jean Stimmell: 6/19/13
"Indeed, when we consult indigenous, oral peoples from around the world, we commonly discover that for them there is no phenomenon -- no stone, no mountain, no human artifact -- that is definitively inert or inanimate. Each thing has its own spontaneity, its own interior animation, its own life!"

“...along with the other animals, the stones, the trees, and the clouds, we ourselves are characters within a huge story that is visibly unfolding all around us, participants within the vast imagination, or Dreaming, of the world.” 

These two quotes are from David Abram's writings:  the first from Storytelling and Wonder: on the rejuvenation of oral culture and the second from The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Primodial archetypes like ancient pilings still guide the rivers of our life

Pilings along the Merrimack: 6/16/13
Paleolithic archetypes still guide human behavior 
just as surely as these ancient pilings continue to guide the river.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Broken Heart along the Merrimack

Broken Heart along the Merrimack
CC Jean Stimmell: 6/13/13
Wound healing from lost limb: Tree along the Merrimack River.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Seeking refuge

Hummingbird outside my office window, under
 the overhang, taking refuge from torrential rain.
CC  Jean Stimmell : 6/11/13 

“By perceiving the animal in man we may perceive rudiments of divinity, essential archetypal modes of consciousness–[1]

“The impact of an archetype… evokes in us all those beneficent forces that… have enabled humanity to find a refuge from every peril and to outlive the longest night. [2]

[1] James Hillman, Blue Fire, page 68
[2] C.G. Jung.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

As we did to the Neanderthals, so now we do to ourselves

Neanderthal on the Moon     CC Jean Stimmell
I had a dream last night about a Neanderthal grinning at me from the moon (see image above).

We have long made Neanderthal the butt of our jokes, using the word as a term of scorn and derision to describe anyone lacking in intelligence and creativity. That being the case, why would any self-respecting Neanderthal be grinning back at me?

Reality, of course, is much different from gossip and old wives tales.

The truth is that Neanderthals had a lot going for them: they walked the Earth three times longer than we have to date (up to 350,000 years longer). And they had larger brains than we do, not smaller.

New research suggests that Neanderthals and modern humans living at the same time were culturally equivalent. João Zilhão, an archaeology research professor, says that arguing that Neanderthals aren’t as culturally advanced as humans is like saying “people in the Middle Ages were cognitively handicapped because they could not use mobile phones’."[1]

My thesis is that humans killed off the Neanderthals, not because we are smarter but because we are more blood thirsty and aggressive. It stands to reason, if the Neanderthals were more peaceful and Buddha-like, they didn’t stand a chance.

But what comes around goes around.  I wonder now if my Neanderthal is grinning back at me because he knows he is going to get the last laugh.

Our aggressiveness that killed him off, now intensified by capitalism and high technology, has not resulted in a more intelligent way of life but just the opposite: moral decay, catastrophic weapons of mass destruction and irreversible damage to mother earth and her sacred inhabitants.

Just as we did to the Neanderthals, so now we do to ourselves.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

River to the Unconscious

Descending the Raging River
CC Jean Stimmell 

This image is from a recent dream, exhilarating yet fraught with fear, of plunging into a raging stream cascading wildly over its banks, yet trusting that I am being transported toward home: A dream I interpret as a downward journey toward the dark, mysterious feminine depths of my unconscious.