Sunday, February 19, 2012

Individuation after mid life

The Individuation Process - one of the most important aspects of Jung's work, up to which all his techniques, methods, agonies and mistakes, insights and writing lead, is said to be the journey in the second half of life.  While the first half of life is a  Hero's Journey, the fool stepping out into outer world to develop an ego strong enough to withstand the descent into the unconscious, the second half of life is an entirely different kind of journey, sustained and only effective in the inner world as a search for the true self and a spiritual nature, which is not respected or supported in the outer world, but is necessary for teaching the younger generations and the healing both of the self and of those one encounters, perhaps even the world despite the limitations of society.
Without the Hero's journey, individuation is  a precarious path, one which can lead to wholeness and authenticity or to destruction as in the case of the Neitsczhes, Morrisons, and Cobains.

I've been on this spiral journey for years now, often stepping off to embrace life on a more simplistic level,  but the nudge comes, often from a depression of a unexplainable lethargy.  I stop listening to music, avoid writing, stop cataloging my dreams. Often it is some synchronistic event which kicks me "awake" and then I can't turn back.  That event this time was the lecture on Carl Jung on his Red Book. It has set me off on a whirlwind journey this time, back to the realms of Ishtar and Hecate, Orpheus and  Hermes, and a return again to Lily, Jacob, and writing more about Alex and Mavis of my published novel Shaman Circus, and an unfinished second novel Shaman in Exile. 
With the sight of so many people at the lecture on Jung and all those who joined the webinar  on the movie, A Dangerous Method, at the Asheville Jung Center, as well as carried on a highly animated conversation on the website's blog, I felt like I'd find what I'd hoped to find more than 20 years ago, people in the area interested in Jung. I even started looking for a Jungian therapist in the Greenville area, but unfortunately cannot find one, or even a discussion group - not unusual in the type of city Greenville is and the fact that most of those interested in Jung are introverts and not likely to shout of their interest to the outside world. So it looks like I'll have to revert to my usual methods which I came by out of desperation but ha e since discovered are techniques Jungian analysts suggest to their patients - painting, writing, poetry, recording and examining dreams,active imagination (which I've done often since being a shy and introspective child), even dance.
Introverts tend to find the path of individuation quicker than extroverts, who feel comfortable in and who rely on the outside world. And while my childhood was lonely and painful as an extreme introvert, I am grateful now. Turning inward is natural to me and to accomplish the lifelong task of individuation - the wholeness of the self, as opposed to the fractured person we often become thanks to the pulls of various aspects of society, we must be able to go inward - into the "pit" (as I call it), the dark and frightening places, the basements and caves for that is where we meet the sides we have repressed - but along with their frightening actions and aspect, they offer gifts, gifts of pieces of ourselves who we've cast off, judging them unfit for social consumption - which often is suggest by a society threatened by change.
  I hoped it would happen and it did - re-reading lots of Jung, alongside novels (currently Babel Tower) by A.S, Byatt, with Jungian undertones sets of dreams.
I've been really fortunate that in the midst of a couple of very stressful weeks at work in finding the best ways to care for my clients (I still find it out that I'm now a civil servant who can't talk about their job in any detail) I'm surprised that lately I've stopped dreaming about work and am dreaming some of those big dreams, Jung wrote of.  They're easily recognizable to anyone who has kept dream journals off and on for more than 30 years. My dreams often have the same elements, such as water, sometimes calm and welcoming like a pond, which often means good things to me or at other times wild and rushing oceans taking over whatever house I'm in during the dream. The night before last it was the basement of a cottage without a cottage on top -  that ones easy to figure out.  There were these huge bashing waves, like tsunamis hurling massive amounts of huge tree trunks as a if a log jam had just been broken up and they were curling to crash into the place and bury it when I got out the back door. 

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