Are imaginal experiences real? What is the nature of the beings that live in that space between matters of the natural world, and ideas of the reasonable mind? How do they help us live a life imbued with wonder and mystery? These questions compelled me to begin exploring what French philosopher Henry Corbin called the imaginal realm, the mundus imaginalis. Corbin coined the term “imaginal” to distinguish between that which is “made up” – a flight of fantasy – and that reality residing on the border between waking experience, and a more generative kind of knowing and being.
The Sefirotic Tree of Life
By Tony Woolfson, Ph.D.In the winter of 1944 Jung lost his footing when out walking, fell, and broke his foot. Perhaps the symbolic significance of losing his footing contributed to his suffering a heart attack shortly thereafter. For several weeks he hovered in a liminal state, on the threshold of death, often with the feeling of being way above the Earth in an altered state entirely. He was certainly in a mystical condition, in an out of body near-death situation. The down-to-earth reality of the daily hospital routines irritated him intensely and about the only time he experienced a complete relief from the vagaries of his illness was late at night when the night nurse brought him some soup. Perhaps she brought him chicken soup, a symbolic cure-all that Jewish mothers will tell us cannot hurt, and it might even do some good. Jung even fancied that the nurse was an old Jewish mother figure, preparing ritual kosher dishes for him. And only then was Jung able to eat, and with appetite, as he describes it in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
The Archetype of the Wandering Jew
By Tony Woolfson, Ph.D.This is a photograph taken in 1938 in Cracow, Poland. Within two years at most the old man in the photograph was most likely dead, and most if not all his fellow Jews in Cracow would be living in conditions of near complete desperation, consequent to the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany on September 1 1939, the complete occupation of Poland soon thereafter, and the institution of policies designed more or less to annihilate both the Slavic Polish population and of course the more than two million Jewish people then living in Poland. Although the image looks as if it could have been taken straight from a newspaper of the time, so authentically papery and faded and grey does it look, it was in fact recently reproduced from a book of photographs of Jewish life in Eastern Europe taken just before the outbreak of WWII. The photographer, Roman Vishniac, was commissioned by an American Jewish agency to make a pictorial record of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before it was too late, it being fairly obvious by 1938 that time was not on the side of Eastern European Jews. The lucky ones, like the archetypal figure of a modern-day Job in Joseph Roth’s legendary novel of the same name, had made it across the ocean to the “goldene Medina” (yes, Medina of Moslem fame), the U. S. of A. Six million of the rest were unable or unwilling to tear their lives up by the roots, again, and take to the road of the Wandering Jew. Click here to register for Jung and the World Religions So deeply embedded in the Jewish psyche is the reality of wandering that the very word has a deep symbolic significance. As he or she is alluded to in the Hexagram of The Wanderer in the I Ching, the wanderer really has no home, the wanderer is truly a rootless cosmopolitan. We might note that it seems that ever more people in our day have to live the life of a wanderer, fortunate indeed if they ever reach a welcoming shore and a home they can call their own. Jewish people have also learned how to find consolation and a much more fulfilling life in their next “home from home”. For example, had Biblical Joseph not been sold into slavery in Egypt, his family might have starved to death when they had to leave Canaan because of famine. Similarly, the horrific end to the rich Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula had the unintended consequence of bringing many thousands of Jews to relative safety in Turkey, much closer to the Holy Land. The expulsion surely contributed to the extraordinary flourishing of Kabbalistic mythology in Safed, which we will be discussing on Saturday. In our photograph, then, all this symbolism should be readily apparent. It is a classic image, mystical in its depth and intensity, perhaps due to our, the viewers, knowledge of what awaits this old man and his people within two years from the photograph’s being taken. The old man, a rabbi, knows what we know, however, and the briefest glance at the dishevelled and dislocated architectural background, like a context to the photograph, only adds to the sense of desolation that so often is associated with eternal wandering. A Mediaeval legend that must have contributed significantly to the idea of the Jew as always leaving, never to be trusted, and generally a despised Other is the Legend of the Wandering Jew, deriving from the completely unfounded story of a Jewish inhabitant of Jerusalem’s making an archetypal refusal to give water to the suffering, exhausted, and thirsty Jesus as he proceeded up the Stations of the Cross to Calvary and his martyrdom. For his refusal, it is said that Jesus condemned the Jew to a life as an Eternal Wanderer, knowing no rest and with no place to call home. Roman Vishniac bethought himself to ask the old Rabbi in Cracow how long he had been wandering. “From the beginning,” he replied. For more from Dr. Tony Woolfson please register for the Jung and the World Religions 5 seminar course from the Asheville Jung Center.
By Tony Woolfson, Ph.D.Click here to Register for Jung and the World Religions Around two hundred years ago there lived a Hungarian Hasidic Rabbi called Rabbi Eizik. He lived in a place called Kallo and one evening just before the Sabbath two young Hasids happened to arrive in town and as was the custom they sought out the hospitality of Rabbi Eizik of Kallo about whom they had heard so much. Already tales were being told of his miracles throughout Hungary, and the visiting Hasidim greatly anticipated spending the Sabbath in his company. Soon everyone had gathered together to celebrate the Sabbath, and all waited in anticipation of the sign given by the Rabbi to bring in the Sabbath and welcome the Sabbath Queen, the Shekhinah. But the Rabbi did not stir. He sat perfectly still and although all eyes were upon him he was obviously in deep concentration. The visiting Hasidim were very surprised at this because no one ever delayed bringing in the Sabbath past eighteen minutes exactly before sundown, and all knew of the rush at the end to prepare a table fit for the Sabbath Queen! All at once there was a knock at the door, and a young couple entered. The young man was dressed in white, as was worn in Safed where it is told that the Holy Ari, Isaac Luria, and his disciples donned white robes before going out into the fields to greet the Sabbath. The young woman, also dressed in white, was quite beautiful, comely with very dark eyes, her head covered with a white scarf. The Rabbi rose, at the same time signalling for the Sabbath to begin. The Hasidim began singing the traditional song of welcome to the Sabbath bride. The Rabbi welcomed his guests and treated them with every respect and kindness, paying just as much attention to the woman as to the man. This was already too much for the rather traditional Hasidim, but they were guests and could neither do nor say anything. After the meal the rabbi of Kallo rose and said: “This couple has come here to be wed this day. And I have agreed to marry them.” Now these words were shocking to the Hasidim because Jewish religious law forbids marrying on the Sabbath. And so the young Hasidim began reading Psalms to themselves, to protect them from the proposed desecration of the Sabbath. At that moment the rabbi turned to the Hasidim and said, “Of course, the consent of everyone present is necessary, if the wedding is to be performed. Please tell us if we have your consent.” And there was almost a pleading tone in his voice. Now it is one thing to witness a desecration of the law, but another thing to agree to it. As the young Hasidim did not dare refuse the rabbi to his face, they instead looked down and continued reciting Psalms, and a great fear was in their hearts. At last, when they raised their eyes, they saw that the couple were gone. The Rabbi of Kallo was slumped in his chair. After a long silence the Rabbi said: “Do you know who they were?” The young Hasidim shook their heads. And the Rabbi said: “He was the Messiah, she was the Shekhinah, the Sabbath Queen. Throughout many long years of exile they have sought each other, and at last they were together, and they wanted to be wed. As everyone knows, on the day of their wedding our exile will come to an end. But that is only possible if everyone consents. Unfortunately, it seems you could not, and the wedding did not take place.” A lot of Jewish tradition and Jewish mystical tradition can be found in this story. Another story concerns a man called Carl Jung who early in the year 1944 had a wondrous vision of the Shekhinah, or Malkhuth as she is known in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the Sefirotic Tree. The Tree of Life is a symbol that we pray will always live for us, despite human efforts to cut and burn, to despoil, to profiteer from this sacred symbol of life and death. As you view these images which show the Tree of Life in various shapes and sizes, you might wonder why it is of such major symbolic importance to both the Jewish Mystical Tradition and C. G. Jung. To learn more about the influence that the Jewish Mystical Tradition had on Carl Jung from presenter Dr. Tony Woolfson please register for the Asheville Jung Center’s 5 seminar series on Jung and the World Religions.
An Archetypal Journey to Renew Strength, Love, and CreativityMassamilla and Bud Harris have just released an incredible new book through. Massimilla recently led her lecture and workshop titled “Facing the Death Mother.” The response for this event was great, and we are pleased to announce that a recording of the lecture is now available for you to watch. In their new book, Into the Heart of the Feminine: An Archetypal Journey to Renew Strength, Love, and Creativity, Jungian analysts and authors Massimilla and Bud Harris dynamically weave their own personal and professional experiences in the form of rich and compelling stories, providing a down-to-earth book available to a wide audience. A Book for Women…and for Men Imagine within each of us, there is a deep, powerful source for living lives of love, creativity, and fulfillment. To imagine this foundation for life and the energy it produces is to imagine ourselves and our world filled with the influence of the archetypal feminine – her passionate creativity, love, and ageless knowing. Personally and culturally, this force – which lives at the heart of our lives – has been diminished and wounded until it seems to have retreated beyond the horizon, in a world filled with rationalism and an anxious search for the material “good life.” This is a powerfully moving book that goes beyond gender roles into the soul of the archetypal feminine, exploring how it has been damaged and traumatized, and finding out how this condition affects all of us. Into the Heart of the Feminine was published by Daphne Publications. Massimilla Harris, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst with a practice in Asheville, North Carolina for the past 25 years. She holds a doctorate in Psychology and is a graduate of the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. She is also an author, teacher, award-winning quilter, and certified Solisten Provider. Developed by Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis, Solisten is a special kind of music therapy that, along with Jungian analysis, enables Dr. Harris to help people bring mind and body together to release their full potentials. Bud Harris, Ph.D., originally became a businessman and successfully owned his own business before returning to school to become a psychotherapist. After earning his Ph.D. in psychology and practicing as a psychotherapist and psychologist, he experienced the call to further his growth and become a Jungian analyst. He then moved to Zürich, Switzerland where he trained for over five years and graduated from the C. G. Jung Institute. He is the author of ten books, lectures widely, and practices as a Jungian analyst in Asheville, North Carolina. Dr. Harris is also a Chiron author and his book The Fire and the Rose: The Wedding of Spirituality and Sexuality is another outstanding read.