Shadows of darkness and light

Aurora, the dawn, the princess of light and goodness who is blessed by fairies to always have a smile on her face, has a dark, malefic shadow. When Aurora meets Maleficent (, she says, “I know who you are. You’ve been watching me my whole life. Your shadow has been following me ever since I was small.” She invites the shadow to come out from the dark forest so she can look upon her face. Maleficent answers “then you’ll be afraid.” In this short but brilliant pre-release teaser clip (which doesn’t correspond to the actual timeline of events in the film), when Maleficent steps out from the darkness, a wall of thorns immediately rises up around the enchanted forest, separating the shadow world of dark, mythical creatures from the human kingdom of light. It sounds like a perfect Jungian account of our first encounter with the shadow – when we first get a glimpse of parts of ourselves that frighten us and we habitually repress, we erect impassible walls to keep them out. (more…)


The lost art of transmutation (intro to Magic in Everyday Life)

“We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out.” – Robert McCammon

I remember when I was six years old and I saw my first magic film. It was a cinematic adaptation of a Russian fairy tale about Ruslan and Ludmila. I was absorbed by the screen and transported into an enchanted forest inhabited by tree sprites, fire spirits, mermaids with painted skin and green hair, talking birds and dancing bears. I was there alongside the princess Ludmila, when she was abducted by a sorcerer-dwarf with an enormous white beard, when she fought off his army of elvish-blue guards with silk pillows, and when she escaped into a forest of white reef corals, and made her way across a bridge of floating ice. I didn’t understand much about epic battles between good and evil, but I knew that I didn’t like the sorcerer-dwarf and that I felt immediately drawn to the wise, old magician who lived in the forest and could communicate with the animals and resurrect the fallen hero with the elixir of life. (more…)

The inner power of will and the discipline of willpower

I dreamt I met my 6 year old self. I was in an old Victorian house, in a large foyer with a marble floor that resembled an enormous chessboard and a grand circular staircase on the left. To the right was a small, wooden, run-down door. I entered it and went down the stairs to the cellar. At the bottom was an oval door, which I first thought was a mirror because it was made of glass, but as I came closer I saw that it was opaque and cloudy, and gave back no reflection. I knocked on the door and waited. She extended a hand through the liquid glass and pulled me into her world.

We went into a dark forest and sat down near a weeping willow tree, with branches hanging like curtains over a small pond with bright orange fish. She turned to me with melancholy eyes and said, stop pushing. And then I transformed into a grandmother, not my own grandmother, who I barely remember, but an archetypal white-haired, old woman who touched the child’s face softly and spoke to her with gentle words. I cannot remember what the I-who-was-not-I said. (more…)