In the predawn I am sitting in the cushioned wicker chair next to the window in the dining room, my new spot to watch the light rise in the sky. I look over at the doorway that opens to the front hall with the wall sconce by the stairs, at the patterns of pearly light and steely shadows against the white stucco walls, and I am captivated by the space. The wide angles of the doorframe open to the dark living room, a slice of stairway ascending to the right. I draw it, photograph it and describe it in my journal.
I move into it. Not physically. But the way one moves into a timeless moment that is numinous. And those moments, I believe, surround us.
I am reading Donald Kalsched’s book Trauma and the Soul; A psycho-spiritual approach to human development and its interpretation. Kalsched, a Jungian analyst, describes an “intermediate space between the worlds in which we are all most alive.” The “worlds” that he writes of are the worlds of consciousness and the unconscious. He refers to them in many contexts—as the inner world of imagination and the outer material world of facts, as the sacred and the profane. Kalsched acknowledges that there are many doorways that can lead us into mysterious interior spiritual realms and posits that we can evolve into both worlds, concluding “If we are going to ‘individuate’ in the true meaning Jung gave to that term, then we must let ourselves grow from these two roots.”
In many respects this book offers a theoretical amplification of my memoir. It mirrors my final dream of a mother/child, Demeter/Persephone dream figure who “embodies the mysteries of abundance and poverty, of attachment and separation, of the reds, and the blues,” and who “carries my soul.”
Kalsched’s focus is on trauma, and on dissociation as a soul-saving defense which keeps “an innocent core of the self out of further suffering in reality by keeping it safe in another world.” In my first chapter I write about an experience that I remembered from the age of four.
“My guess is, it was soon after we moved into the house when I began to disappear in the windowless hall between my bedroom, my parents’ bedroom, the bathroom, and the entrance into our living room; since I still needed to stand on my stool to see into the medicine cabinet mirror.
…All I can say is, in that hallway I left my body.
…What I am trying to describe is what I believe to be my earliest reportable experiences of dissociation, a splitting off of consciousness. A vacant self.”
I go on to describe other altered states that I experienced as a child, transcendent states as well as the dark terrors of the night.
The tracks of the unseen (In the Tracks of the Unseen) are the tracks of my soul. My memoirs are stories of trauma and the healing that comes from holding the tension of the opposites, part human, part divine, in a third space, a liminal space from where looking into the front hall with the wall sconce by the stairs in the predawn can be transcendent.