In the Norse tradition, Odin’s Ravens are called Huginn and Muninn which represent his intellectual/spiritual capabilities journeying outward (from his physical form) in the form of fittingly intelligent and curious birds.*
It is only in recent times that western science has begun to recognise the entangled inter-connection of mind, body and spirit. Our mechanical or biomedical model of the body is informed by anatomical research back when grave-robbers furnished the medical establishment with bodies to study.
The treatment of the mind as separate and unto itself is echoed in the way psychology has been treated as a study ‘of the mind’ rather than the whole person. So for me, psyche still has connotations of ‘the mind’ and that is what is examined in this anthology. As a teen many of my poems expressed a desire for inner peace which I now equate with self-acceptance...
I miss the way we used to play together in the parched summer afternoons. Drenched in light. I miss how we were. Carefree, feral and freely loving. We had love for any person who smiled, any person who offered an arm. There was no doubt that we could go on giving, and being received. I miss the feeling that it’s summer in the realm of heart. Warm and bright and glowing. And I miss the way you used to think: all thoughts were new thoughts, tumbling any which way. I was gentle with each one, each thought was a jewel, a magic trick, a respectable, precious, pondering. I miss allowing you your thoughts.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung began to bridge the disassociation of all our ‘parts’ with his theories. He wrote: “…by psyche I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious.”*
Jung is perhaps not as famous as Freud who he split from over differences of opinion but Jung strikes me as the most influential. It is Jung’s words that have made their way into common parlance and give us a way to talk about our inner experiences. The Shadow, The Complex, Archetypes, Collective Unconscious, Synchronicity, Midlife-crisis… all these words and concepts are Carl Jung’s contribution which I value not as an analysis of his patients but as his experiential understanding which he applied to his own patients as he pursued his own ‘inner work’.
The main reason a ‘midlife crisis’ is coined as such, is because Carl Jung had his at ‘mid-life’!
(Of this I feel quite sure).
A couple of years ago I found myself at a cross-roads. I had cleared away all the surface noise and was face-to-face with my life-long complexes (possibly spanning generations!) which inhabited my unconscious.
They were at first visible only through the behaviours and assumptions I had been assuming - the care-taking, the rescuing, the over-giving. The archetypal hero and ‘too good mother’ were the first to become a prison.
I realised with a shock that I was starving of soulful, creative nourishment and my physical body was beginning to reflect it. I encountered my inner Judge, my inner child - not as the wild free spirit but the embodiment of all my immaturity and unfamiliar ‘not knowing’, I knew my inner maiden and inner mother were undergoing death and rebirth but I felt like a wreck. I wanted it to be over. I wanted to skip ahead over the discomfort.
And so depression set in.
‘To sing means to use the soul voice. It means to say on the breath the truth of one’s power and one’s need, to breathe soul over the thing that is ailing or in need of restoration.
This is done by descending into the deepest mood of great love and feeling, till ones desire for the Wildish Self overflows and then speak from one’s soul with that frame of mind. That is singing over the bones.’ (Estes 1992, p.24)
That passage by Clarissa Pinkola Estes inspired the title of my 2019 film 'Wild Mother' which is a companion to my artists book 'Paper-clips with Raven', and features three of the poems.
SPECIAL OFFER: Get access to the digital edition immediately when you subscribe to The Artists Notebook
Or contact me to place an order
*1 Hugin and Munin URL: https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/others/hugin-and-munin [Last accessed: 22.2.2019]
*2 ‘The Jungian Model of the Psyche’, ‘Psyche’, Online Journal URL: http://journalpsyche.org/jungian-model-psyche [Last accessed: 22.2.2019]
*Liepins, 2015 'Mind', 'Out of Darkness' URL: http://www.maija.co.uk/poetry/downloads/Out-Of-Darkness.pdf
*3 Estes Clarissa Pinkola, 2009, Women Who Run With Wolves
*4 Liepins, image: 'Puddle Portal' 2019 'Paper-clips With Raven'