Saturday, November 8, 2014

Our survival depends on reconnecting to mythos and the rhythms of the universe

A foolishly sweet elf disguised as milkweed on Harmony Hill
CC Jean Stimmell: 11/03/14
In today's world ruled by the cold logic of technology and science, nature is defined as dead matter, separate from ourselves,  something we can manipulate, abuse, use up, or eradicate as we please.⁠1 However, as Carl Jung first observed, a tragic consequence of reducing our world to  numbers and empirical facts is that we become estranged from who we really are: 

“Man feels isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree makes a man's life…Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants and animals.⁠2
Our salvation – literally our continued existence – depends on reconnecting to myths⁠3 which, by definition, ask deeper questions about reality, welcoming all beings, all voices, seen or unseen. 

Real myths, while they may not always pass the literal fact checks of abstracted empiricists lost in the labyrinths of their minds, are psychologically and symbolically true – and absolutely necessary to complete us as fully functioning human beings.   Myths are essential, as Joseph Campbell tells us, to pull us “into accord with the rhythm of the universe.”⁠4 

Put another way, myth is the software that grounds our abstract minds in the real, putting our ego in harmony with our body, our sense of place, and mother nature.

Great danger looms – unending war, pestilence, and catastrophic climate change come to mind – if we stay on our present path,  disconnected from the real because we have repressed the contents of our unconscious, disregarding the magic and mystery that resides there. Apprehending the growing chasm between our conscious everyday life and the vast depth of the psyche, Jung long ago laid out the task required of us if we are to survive:

“We do not understand yet that the discovery of the unconscious means an enormous spiritual task, which must be accomplished if we wish to preserve our civilization.”⁠5

In a bit of synchronicity: An Ode to Elves by Carl Jung:

In Jung’s Red Book, an exquisite red leather‐bound folio manuscript,which recounts and comments on his imaginative experiences between 1913-16, he had this to say about elves:

“These…elemental spirits, dressed in wrinkled garb,…with delightful misshapen forms, young and yet old, dwarfish, shriveled, unspectacular bearers of secrets arts, possessors of ridiculous wisdom… What should your appearance be to us? What new arts do you bear up from the inaccessible treasure chamber..? You still have roots in the soil like plants and you are animal faces of the human body; you are foolishly sweet, uncanny, primordial, and earthly.”⁠6

2 Sabini, M. (Ed.). (2005). The earth has a soul: The nature writings of C.G. Jung, pp. 79-80)
3 and developing new myths for our time and place
4 Campbell, J., & Moyers, w. B. (1991). The Power of Myth.
5 Sabini, M. (Ed.). (2005). The earth has a soul: The nature writings of C.G. Jung, p. 145

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