Dear Depth Psychology Alliance book club participator,
I want to welcome you to the book club for the month of February. During this month we will discuss my book The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, and I invite you to share your thoughts, comments and questions on this theme.
I write these lines from my home in Ra'anana, a small town north of Tel Aviv, at the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. This is the narrowest part of this small country, around 9 miles from the sea to Israel’s border with the Palestinian National Authority in the east (the local bus will take you cross-country).
This place in which I live, seems to eternally waver back and forth between profound creation and relentless destruction. Here, history fuses with mythology, and the heart of three monotheistic religions beats from within an area of a third of a square mile; a heartbeat that sends hurricanes of the spirit and floods of blood, across the face of the earth. From this same harsh earth arose, as well, some of humankind’s most powerful beliefs and influential individuals.
Hope and despair are common visitors in the souls of the peoples that dwell here, coloring their passions in dark red and their spirits in deep blue. You will find the terrors of war alternating at your doorstep with the dreams of reconciliation, reminding you how small we humans are, particularly when we have power and guns in our hands (on all sides). We are constantly reminded of the responsibility that rests on the shoulders of Psyche in each and every one. As Jung said, man’s psyche is the origin of all coming evil.
I have shared my thoughts about these issues in other books.* However, one further characteristic brings us to the cycle of life: the seasons. Here, at the eastern Mediterranean (which means “the sea in the middle of the earth”), the seasons don’t flow gently into each other. The seasons that soften the transition between summer and winter are very brief, sometimes barely noticeable. Likewise, the transitions along life’s journey, from the fires of adolescence to the gray ground of adulthood, for instance, may be sharp and painful. In some, this may evoke resistance and the desire to stay forever young, as in the puer aeternus or the puella aeterna, the eternal youth, who refuses to grow up. Others may prematurely, and sometimes unprepared, have to take on the burden of adult responsibilities, experiencing how the fire and the spirit of youth are extinguished.
My book focuses less on actual development through life’s stages, but rather on the archetypal core of the respective stages, or ages of life, from the perspective of their archetypal meaning. Consequently, the emphasis is not on the child’s development through the stages of childhood, but rather on the child as carrying the image of living in “the mysterious world of mythical images and magical relatedness,” as Gerhard Adler says.
I suggest that whoever wants to participate travels the journey of the book in whatever personal way you find suitable. The reading of the book’s 182 pages easily lends itself to be divided in four: first week we’ll concentrate on the journey, second week on the child, third week on adolescence and adulthood, and fourth week on old age. But find your own path! Sometimes, some of us, start reading a book from the end, or are drawn to a chapter of particular interest. I do suggest, however, that we share thoughts and comments according to this weekly schedule, to keep a certain structure in a world that too easily lends itself to chaos.
So this first week, let us focus on the journey. I have chosen the image of the river, from its source, and then the course the river of one’s life may take, until it finally dissolves in the sea. When Jung, in his essay on the stages of life, emphasizes the importance of ‘problem’ on life’s journey, his intention is clearly living the conscious life. What does that mean? How do we live consciously?
Please be free to relate in whatever individual way you choose, with comments and questions. I will respond regularly, and I hope it will be an enjoyable journey together.
If you are interested, you may listen to or watch an interview that Bonnie Bright conducted with me.
Furthermore, there will be two drawings, one on February 14th for The Hero and His Shadow, and one on the 28th for Enemy, Cripple & Beggar. The winner of the book will be announced the following day.
Looking forward to sharing thoughts and perspectives along the journey,
*Please see my The Hero and His Shadow (the most recent, revised edition of this book was published this January by Fisher King Press); and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return (if you sign up for my newsletter, you will receive a free pdf eBook edition of the novella, but those of you who, like me, prefer the ‘real’ thing, can purchase it at Fisher King Press, Amazon or elsewhere).