A couple of days ago, in a crowded hospital waiting room, I was reading James Hillman’s selected writings A Blue Fire.
I must admit I was struggling a bit with the psychoanalitic language, more so because I was reading it in English, but this book contains many moving passages (like where he writes we need to recall the angel aspect of words, recognizing them as carriers of soul between people), and at some point I felt touched and wanting to cry.
I was reading this passage:
Western tradition has identified ego with consciousness, an identification that found formulation especially in nineteenth-century psychology and psychiatry. But this part of Jung’s thought does not sit well with either his notion of psychic reality or his therapeutic goals of psychic consciousness. What brings cure is an archetypal consciousness, and this notion of consciousness is defintely not based upon ego…
The “relativization of the ego”, that work and that goal of the fantasy of individuation, is made possible, however, from the beginning if we shift our conception of the base of consciousness from ego to anima archetype, from I to soul.
Then one realizes from the very beginning (a priori and by definition) that the ego and all its developmental fantasies were never, even at the start, the fundament of consciousness, because consciousness refers to a process more to do with images than will, with reflection rather than control, with reflective insight into, rather than manipulation of, objective reality. We would no longer be equating consciousness with one phase of it, the developmental period of youth and its questic heroic mithology. Then, too, while educating consciousness even in youth, the aim of nourishing anima would be no less significant than that of strengthening ego.
Instead of regarding anima from the viewpoint of ego where she becomes a poisonous mood, an inspiring weakness, or a contrasexual compensation, we might regard ego from soul’s perspective where ego becomes an instrument for day-to-day coping, nothing more grandiose than a trusty janitor of the planetary houses, a servant of soul-making. This view at least gives ego a therapeutic role rather than forcing it into the antitherapeutic position, a stubborn old king to be relativized. Then, too, we might relativize the myth of the hero, or take it for what it has become today for our psyche – the myth of inflation – and not the secret key for the development of human consciousness. The hero myth tells the tale of conquest and destruction, the tale of psychology’s “strong ego”, its fire and sword, as well as the career of its civilization, but it tells little of the culture of its consciousness. Strange that we could still, in a psychology as subtle as Jung’s, believe that this king-hero, and his ego, is the equivalent of consciousness.
The moment my heart ached was when I read the sentences I highlighted.
I suddenly sensed what it would have felt like to be allowed to embrace soul, as a young human, as a young woman, but I also felt I can (we can) still open to that possibility. How, I don’t really know, I know for me it probably goes through allowing for more art, imagery, dreams, breath, love in my life.
The same night I had a dream, in which I met one of my friends of a lifetime, someone who’s been an older sister to me for more than 30 years, the person who introduced me to Diego thinking we might like each other, and who very recently and suddenly passed away.
I was grieving, even in the dream, especially because we’d drifted away from each other for some years, and I had been planning to pay her a visit in her new home, to sit in the warmth of her kitchen, or on the couch, knowing that no matter what, we had a soul connection, but it was too late. There was no way for me to let her know I feel that way about our sisterhood, and I was and still are not sure she knew.
I don’t remember the details of the dream, just that when I met her I was afraid of her judgement, for I hadn’t been able to tell her how I felt about some things that had happened between us, but when I woke up I felt at peace, as if in the dream we had found a way to connect again, and just be sisters as we used to be. I felt like we were able to hug, and stand shoulder to shoulder, and know that nothing else really mattered.
I don’t even know why Hillman’s text and my dream go together, or the images I chose for this text, but I feel they do.
I feel moved just by opening to the possibility that soul might have a say in my life, that I have the right to let it manifest and come forward. It’s actually blowing me away as I write.
And I feel that connecting to my friend’s soul in my dream is part of it.
2 hours later. Oh yes, of course now I see, Michelina was the one to introduce me to James Hillman. I was 16 or 17 years old, and she was 25.