Over the past few years I’ve grown increasing captivated by Depth Psychology, and most of all by its Jungian evolution. It’s as though the more blithely scientific the field of psychology has become, the more desperately I feel compelled to speak for the preservation and awareness of its role in acknowledging the deeper soulful mystery within human beings, and within the world, and the more anxious I become at what seems to me to be the glazing over of this awe–not just in psychology, but in religion as well–in a world frenetic with anxiety and speed.
I’ve written before here about my wistful gazing through Christianity’s stained glass at what I imagine to be a preservation of the sacred within, and my peering through the doorways of myriad other faiths and practices for such similar disciplined wonder. I’ve written before here–however shyly–about my aching frustration with a displaced mysticism I can’t seem to shrug. And I doubt this whispered call for conversation will end soon.
But this is all just a preface to a different story. I signed up, on a whim, for a lecture and workshop organized by Mary Alice Long and the CG Jung Society of Seattle , on Jung, play, and the general exploration of the child archetype, and took place this past Saturday. It ended up being a strange treat–appreciably experiential, and shared with a warm gathering of mostly-society-members–and sent me headlong into a series of wonderings and remembrances about my own childhood.
(It occurs to me that people with children, or often around children, might be presented with more frequent causes to revisit or remember their own growing-up. My intergenerational engagement tends, as a conscious choice, to be on the opposite end of the spectrum, with those sixty or seventy or above. How silly–or how telling?–that I hadn’t even considered what I’d be missing as a result. Ah well.)
In any case, a portion of Saturday invited the remembering and retelling of favorite childhood stories and games, and I was struck by how curiously serious my own–admittedly remembered–play was, and how thematically akin my favorite stories. I remember being entranced by the entirety of the Narnia series, and Frances Hodgson Burnett’s two classics–The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess–and, perhaps most of all, Tolkien’s grand and terrible realms. No doubt nearly all children entertain similar fantasies of escaping from their own mundane everyday into one of greater significance, into realms of meaning where they play a role in that hanging in the balance of good and evil, or the salvation of a secret and beautiful world. No doubt. Still, it had been ages since I thought of these tales, nor remembered how real they felt to me, much less laughed at how little I’ve changed, and at how, even today, I spend too much time with half my mind caught wistfully in the half-hidden, magical, beautiful world just beyond, or just within, this one.