Our task is to return to Nature, not in the manner of Rousseau, but to our own nature; to find the natural man again. Instead of this, there is nothing we like better than systems and methods by which we can repress the natural man which is everywhere at cross purposes with us. ~C.G. Jung
I have begun in earnest writing the book that I have been pregnant with for several years; it’s the thing that feels like the rest of my life has been on hold waiting for me to deliver. I thought I had to figure out how to support myself better before I could give such time to writing. I’m abandoning that logic. If I don’t deliver this baby I’m gonna explode. It continues to feel more urgent rather than less.
I want to attempt to summarize here what the message of the book is. If I can communicate that in this short writing then maybe the longer one will unfold more simply. Certainly any reflective response would be welcome. Is this a book that you, my blog readers, would want to take in?
To set the stage will be a personal story that explains what brought me to a strong concern about finding the natural man again. Briefly, I was a minister, a wife and a mother when the unraveling of former frames of mind began. This led to my resignation from the ministry, a horrid trauma for me, for my family and for the people who were my extended family in the ministry. Not long after this, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which was a trauma beyond description for me. I speak for myself here and do not want to speak for her. She is astonishingly brave and smart and amazing about it. Some time later came the third and final blow that at last felled the tree that had been me – revelations that led to the dissolution of my long and previously much loved marriage. It was a cosmic one-two-three punch, barely any strength regathered before the next blow came. I was completely shattered, lost 40 pounds, didn’t know up from down, in from out, or who said what for a very long time.
Only in nature did I feel sane and at peace, sometimes miraculously as if nothing had happened. There, an ancient part of me knew exactly what was going on. The architecture of my own civilization, the person I had become through education, enculturation and religion was gone, seemingly without a trace. I barely recognized myself or the world around me. All of the training and assumptions from that former world had not even remotely prepared me for this. Who is this being who survives? From whence emerges this archaic, natural (wo)man?
I said aloud to myself, before I had ever heard it said by any other, that an indigenous person dwelt inside of me and had been awakened. That person, like indigenous people the world over, has modes of perception, ways of knowing and being that had never been taught to me, they were just there. Innate. The messages of birds, wind, rock, stream, trees were coming in. The non-human world is full of intelligent, lively communication that speaks a very discernible language. I experienced myself as a thread in the fabric of everything, a cell in the big body of the cosmos, one with all things, awake to the song emitting from the stars. It was mystical, but not; mostly just natural. I knew that this indigenous person inside of me, like indigenous persons the world over, had been conquered, colonized, marginalized, shamed and suppressed; yet here she was, surviving.
Outwardly during that period it seemed like I had lost my mind; my daughters said I kept repeating things, and asking the same question over and over. I have suspected that I might have had a stroke. Inwardly, however, it felt like I was finding my mind for the first time. This mind I have come to call “the indigenous mind.” I developed a conviction that over centuries of developing the thinking that has produced our modern world we threw the baby out with the bathwater. The primal mind was over-ridden, considered unnecessary, outgrown. Because of this loss, we now upset the balance of nature; toxify our water, air and food supply; destroy personal, social and planetary health and well-being without even knowing what we are doing, why things have gone awry, or imagining what we might do to rectify damage when we do recognize it. As Einstein said, “a problem cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that produced the problem in the first place.” Another level of thinking entirely, another mind, is needed.
Just last night, January 27, 2014, on NBC Nightly News in a light-hearted little piece about ice-fishing in Minnesota words were used describing “man against nature”, humans proudly declaring themselves as “conquerors” of nature. Language is a powerful tool. Such wording concerns me that collectively we unthinkingly separate ourselves out and forget that we ARE nature, nature is us, and by such posturing and language we place ourselves at war with our own self, and in this may lose the possibility of our own survival. This is a war we are not going to win.
Recovery of the indigenous mind may be imperative. How to integrate it with the mind we have developed is difficult work.This is a rigorous journey that I have committed myself to utterly. I completed a doctorate in Depth Psychology, my dissertation topic being “Reawakening Indigenous Sensibilities in the Western Psyche.” I have worked extensively with shamans from a variety of indigenous cultures, as well as engaging in-depth and long term work with gifted Jungian analysts. In 2004 I moved to a wilderness location in the mountains of Western North Carolina where I started a retreat center to work with people around these concerns – leading retreats, vision quests and sweat lodges. I lived alone in nature for more than 8 years.
Now I am down from the mountain, in town, ready to write and to begin a new phase of my work. I do dream analysis and depth psychological work with private clients in my office in downtown Asheville. My commitment to continue personal work as well as work with others around recovering the indigenous mind continues unabated. I await further insight – what does this work want from me going forward?
Regarding our future on this planet, I continue to be concerned and want to do whatever I can to assist. The human psyche is my study, finding the natural man again my quest. Jung articulated his concerns clearly, and I am with him in the following statements:
We need more psychology. We need more understanding of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied because we are the origin of all coming evil.
Can we not understand that all of the outward tinkerings and improvements do not touch man’s inner nature, and that everything ultimately depends upon whether the man who wields the science and the technics is capable of responsibility or not?
My book will speak of my own journey of awakening, offer research, describe ideas and methods for recovery, and will add my voice to the body of literature being written now addressing a broad mutual concern over the future of our planet, the human’s relationship with the natural world and with our own natural selves. I share with you now this focus and intention.