Trauma

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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYemY3xFsB4), 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…)

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Descent to the underworld

Last year, while taking a break from working on a philosophical book about activism, sovereignty, love and the gift economy (Alchemy of Revolution), I spontaneously decided to start writing a fictional memoir (Journeys Between). It’s in the form of a diary-like travel monologue that is both about literal trips and about a metaphorical journey from depression to becoming awakened – though for reasons that become clear as the narrative develops, either of those terms are accurate or fortunate. It begins with a trip to Romania, where childhood traumas emerge through flashbacks, and moves to Morocco, Russia, India and California, where my encounters with Sufism, shamanism, theosophy and yogic philosophy are dramatized as meetings with persons, rather than being described conceptually. I’ve been hesitant to share it because it seems too autobiographical, despite the fictional conventions, and too dark – especially the first two journeys, which are based on my journals from 2011-2012. After abandoning it for 6 months, I woke up with a strong desire to start working on it again, and decided to begin by reworking and posting the fragments I like the most. This is the third entry from the journey to Romania. On one level, it’s about a trip to an actual place (an underground salt mine in Slanic Prahova); on another, the entire first journey is an allegory of a descent to the underworld, which is a common theme in different mythologies. (more…)