The evolution of Jungian psychology owes a great deal to the work of Marion Woodman, a renowned analyst and author who is a pioneer in the understanding of the role of feminine principles in the healing of the human psyche. Her life and work are chronicled in Adam Greydon Reid's striking documentary Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames (Capri Films, 2010), which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in depth psychology and to Woodman fans especially.
Through dynamic conversations with mystic and political activist Andrew Harvey, Woodman shares the personal and professional experiences that fuel her belief in the importance of cultivating a sacred connection to the feminine—meaning to body and to earth—in order to facilitate personal, cultural, and environmental transformation. She teaches that opening to change requires a willingness to surrender to the archetypal processes of death and rebirth, and asserts that even our very Earth is going through such a process now; it's up to us whether or not the Earth is reborn.
With sparkling eyes and her trademark passion and grace, Marion details how she became intimately acquainted with psychic death through her struggles with anorexia and uterine cancer, both of which she overcame by working with her dreams, particularly by learning to integrate the emotional energy of her images into her body. The story of her recovery from cancer is an exceptionally moving testament to the miraculous healing power of making the unconscious conscious.
Probably one of the most poignant and inspiring aspects of the documentary is its exploration of Marion's 50-plus–year partnership to her husband, Ross. Reflecting on the many shifts that have been a part of their journey to mature intimacy, the Woodmans joke that they have had four marriages. Each stage of the relationship has involved the shedding of increasingly deeper levels of projections—a process their marriage is still undergoing, Marion reveals.
As Marion speaks, her words are at times illustrated by the evocative animation of Academy-Award–winning artist Faith Hubley. Hubley's whimsical, at times surreal, images do a wonderful job of bridging the gap between intuitive and intellectual understanding of Woodman's philosophies, and also reflect the dreamscape from which many of Woodman's ideas originated.
All the elements of the film—dialogue, animation, and music—seamlessly work together to capture the fiery spirit of a woman whose desire to become conscious—to dance in the alchemical flames of her soul—saved her very life. Longtime fans of Woodman may find, as I did, such an intimate portrait simply sublime.
Find more of my writing on www.thenightisjung.com. —Melissa Chianta