The Pool of Life

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Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

This post is a partner to yesterday’s Liverpool sketchbooks (for my archive) – Jung’s dream in 1927 of Liverpool.

His pioneering journey into the unconscious was extraordinary and illumined the way for generations to come.  As I and many others travel on his shoulders, the places he visited keep joining up with mine, and feel startlingly familiar.  I had similar dreams of a dark city, mountainous in scale,  with a glowing centre and even a pool or inlet from the sea.  It was  the city of the mind – a many towered labyrinth.   In one of these dreams I was a fish in the pool, and someone threw a line, hooked my nose and flipped me onto dry land.  Ouch!

Here are extracts from the chapter Confrontation with the Unconscious in Jung’s  “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”.  The chapter first describes the creation of the Red Book. Then:

“I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self.  There is no linear evolution;  there is only a circumambulation of the self.  Uniform development exists at most, only at the beginning;  later everything points towards the centre .  This insight gave me stability, and gradually my inner peace returned.  I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self, I had attained what was for me the ultimate.  Perhaps someone else knows more, but not I.

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Window on Eternity by C G Jung - Red Book

Window on Eternity by C G Jung – Red Book

“In 1927 I obtained confirmation of my ideas about the centre and the self by way of a dream.  I represented its essence in a picture which I called ‘Window on Eternity’.  The picture is reproduced in ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’.  A year later I painted a second mandala, with a golden castle in the centre.  When it was finished, I asked myself, ‘Why is this so Chinese?’

The Golden Castle by C G Jung - Red Book

The Golden Castle by C G Jung – Red Book

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“… Shortly afterwards I received a letter from Richard Wilhelm enclosing the manuscript of a Taoist-alchemical treatise entitled ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower‘, with a request that I write a commentary on it.  I devoured the manuscript at once, for the text gave me an undreamed of confirmation of my ideas about the mandala and the circumambulation of the centre.  That was the first event which broke through my isolation.  I became aware of an affinity;  I could establish ties with someone and someone.

“In remembrance of this coincidence, this synchronicity, I wrote underneath the picture which had made so Chinese an impression on me:  ‘In 1928, when I was painting this picture showing the golden, well fortified castle, Richard Wilhelm in Frankfurt sent me the thousand year old Chinese text on the yellow castle, the germ of the immortal body.’

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Rocky 86.JPG - detail, train in city

“This is the dream I mentioned earlier.  I found myself in a dirty, sooty city.  It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining.  I was in Liverpool.  

With a number of Swiss – say, half a dozen – I walked through the dark streets.  I had the feeling that there we were coming from the harbour, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs.  We climbed up there.  

It reminded me of Basel, where the market is down below and then you go up through the Alley of the Dead, which leads to a plateau above, and so to the Petersplatze and Peterskirche.  

“When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square dimly illumined by street lights, into which many streets converged.  The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square.  In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island.  

While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight.  On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms.  It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of light. 

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“My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree.  They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool, and expressed surprise that he should have settled here.  I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought, ‘I know very well why he has settled here.’  Then I awoke.

Swan Hebrew letter Beit

Swan Hebrew letter Beit

“On one detail of the dream I must add a supplementary comment:  the individual quarters of the city were themselves arranged radially around a central point.  This point formed a small open square illuminated by a larger street lamp, and constituted a small replica of the island.  I knew that the ‘other Swiss’ lived in the vicinity of one of these secondary centres.

“This dream represented my situation at the time.  I can still see the greyish-yellow raincoats, glistening with the wetness of the rain.  Everything was extremely unpleasant, black and opaque – just as I felt then.  But I had had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that is why I was able to live at all.   Liverpool is the ‘pool of life’.  The ‘liver’ according to an old view, is the seat of life – that which ‘makes to live’.” 

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(The Liver of Life!   His Window of Eternity mandala shows – like a grid – the city districts as holograms.  Each is as the whole, with its illumining centre and radii:  our human connectivity, beyond the box of space and time:  macrocosm of the microcosm.  When we awake we discover our imagined isolation was a fantasy.)

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“This dream brought with it a sense of finality.  I saw that here the goal had been revealed. One could not go beyond the centre.  The centre is the goal, and everything is directed towards that centre.  Through this dream I understood that the self is the principle and archetype of orientation and meaning.  Therein lies its healing function … Out of it emerged a first inkling of my personal myth. 

“After this dream I gave up painting mandalas …” 

Jung age 85

Jung age 85

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The Liverpool dream looks to me like a four-dimensional snapshot of Jung’s whole working life.   The lamp which the Red Book kept alight during World War One, glowed very deep, hidden inside the dark, but it passed from soul to soul.

During the following decades, Jung worked with clients – high achievers – who were deeply depressed and searching for a reason to live at all.  European society, collectively shattered by the carnage in the trenches, and with Nazism on the rise, endured dense clouds of scepticism and banality – the mind’s dark glamour.

He discovered that if he encouraged his patients to paint what they felt and saw, something in them took charge of the process and led them to an unexpected interior contact.  As the healing awoke, it took charge of the patient who began to open doors.  

Dr Jung found it had little to do with himself as therapist.  His job was to lead his patients to the underground stream, on which they floated paper boats.   Art therapy was born.   It is for ourselves, each one, to contact the unique inner mystery which unites us.

Wandering Fool with DNA and paper boats

Wandering Fool with DNA and paper boats – 1988

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Jung himself had pioneered the way, through the Red Book;  he told very few people about it, (though he showed some of his paintings to those whom he trusted) – but it rekindled by morphic resonance, as in “Window of Eternity”.

In his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul, he describes the new discoveries with his clients.

Jung and his house at Bollingen

Jung and his house at Bollingen

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Gene Keys Golden Path Program

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

 

Liverpool Art School 1969 – Sketchbook 6

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Here is another Liverpool sketchpad from 1969.  I was at art school there, for a year.  You can use the Search button on this blog, to find my other Liverpool sketches  – I use my blog to archive them !

I shall companion this post with my next one – Jung’s account (in Memories, Dreams, Reflections) of his vision in Liverpool.  He called Liverpool the pool of life;  the dark city flowed around the glowing centre of a mandala.  It led him to the Way of the Golden Flower.  He had just finished painting a mandala which he called the Golden Castle – through its portal, he entered the I Ching.

Some of the drawings in this post are of London, where my Italian sweetheart lived.  I hitch hiked south at weekends, to be with him.

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In those days, I met and talked with strangers a great deal.  There was something to learn from everyone;  I was a captive audience.

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This sequence is more visionary:

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I just found this passage in my journal, early spring in 1969.  My meeting with John left an indelible impression in my pool of life, and a sketch:

“It is all a bit like practicing Bach – the complexity of fugal themes and analysis of fingers, with which one has to think hard and precisely; and the sudden resolution, the fitting into place of a phrase like a jigsaw piece in harmony – before it flies apart and you have to work some more. The sudden realisation comes out of the bed of a sea of data, facts and study.  Intuition must have form to pass through as expression, otherwise it is dumb – unresolved spasmodic movements in the dark.  Intuition must be completed through a receiving set of Reality, to come to the light – as music, as painting, as love.

“I’m spending Saturday afternoon at John’s, practicing.”

John the Organist

John the Organist

“Here is John playing the organ.  He lectures also at the art college.  He is from Trinidad.  He is an aggressive person, tremendously active intellectually – immersed in philosophy and music.  He pushes his argument to the bitter end, just for the hell of it, and says he doesn’t have many friends, he prefers to live off his own means.  He “travels” in his room.  I am fascinated by his personality.  He has no time for refinement:  it might weaken him.

“He admires intensely the ancient Greeks, whom he emulates in his direct, self sufficient state of enquiry.  He likes to be with people who spark off debate which he carries to the end of the road and beyond.  More an organist than a pianist, he makes music with all of himself – ‘Here I am!’ – he thrusts.   Fred who visited, heard me playing, and said it was interesting to hear a woman on the piano.  ‘Makes a change from your brute force, John!’

“The pair of them went out shopping in the freezing snow and ice, so I had some time to myself.  I try to be a still, small rock of truth somewhere in myself, over which the waves wash their colours.  My contacts with people are intense;  at the same time I can live from my own means …  I don’t want to copy their styles, I don’t want to crash through a Brahms sonata I grew up with, for I knew its exquisite pain when Aunty Lonie and my father played it together – the same exquisite pain is in sex – I hope one day to climb the mountain.

“John and I like discussions which fly from pole to pole, and find each other interesting as opposites;  but I am too bendy so he gets bored.  He is a hard man; he allows human frailty no room;  I live with it because I have no choice.  We both stick to our guns.  In the evening after we had tea, two people came with their little two year old daughter who said “A garden on the wall!” when she saw the wood-carving hung there.   She is at the age of fascination.  Her dad is an architect with a gentle face, a “street acquaintance”.  Because I was feeling defenceless and raw, events and people took on a magnified intensity, harsh and new.  I knew suddenly, a powerful music of life.  John put scraps of Messiaen on the record-player…

“Later in the evening, John said ‘Would you like to come and play the organ in the Swedish church?’ The place we drove to, down dim frosty streets, was in an unfamiliar part of Liverpool, nearby.  Suddenly we found ourselves in a warm room with Swedish lamps. It was a Swedish mariners’ club, and rather elegant.  The TV was hidden;  a few men with jutting Nordic faces and bristly hair sat on settees and drank black coffee.  There was a girl there, a trainee occupational therapist.  She was working in a mental hospital and found the experience depressng.

“I’d like to speak their steely language, and to see the midnight sun.  John is like them.  He and I went upstairs to the circular vaulted church, hard and white, where the organ was. He is black but his mind is blown from the North.  Sitting on the altar step I listened and watched his feet fly around on the pedals, his silhouette dark against the keyboard lamp.  The music of Bach and Cesar Franck lifted my thoughts in great celestial waves;  I felt so HIGH.

“When I had a go, I tried to synchronise both hands and feet in the architecture which is organic harmony.  The place had a strange atmosphere, like a German expressionist film.  I felt  ‘resurrected’ and on the pulse of great mysteries.

From journal, early spring 1969

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That picture of an angel in society, feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable – I dreamed it, the way it spoke, and the tender buds behind the shoulder blades.

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These sketches are mostly of London, and contain an awakening.

The figure in the smoke above Battersea Power Station is a “Wicked Prince” searching for a Ruby.  Whenever he rolls the plain grey rocks and stones around in his search, there is thunder.  When I was a child, my grandfather Jim Ede told us tales of The Wicked Prince year by year.   The saga ended at this point when I was about twelve;  Jim shut his mouth – though we begged him to go on – and wouldn’t tell us any more.

The Wicked Prince is still on his adventurous quest.  He is locked up in the sky.  He seeks the Ruby –  alchemical tincture of the Stone:  a rare wine that grew in the water:  a wine that grows in the rain.

Battersea Power Station was in those days still functioning, and a truly marvellous building – created by the architect of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.   It lifted my soul.

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My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/