Freedom to Feel


As a young married woman I was utterly captivated by the film, Blume in Love, for reasons I didn’t understand. The same thing had happened three years earlier when I read my all-time favorite book: The Magus, by John Fowles. Why did I find it so incredibly fascinating? Did it have anything in common with Blume in Love, or were these just random coincidences? I didn’t know then. Forty years later, I do.
The Magus, published in 1966, was an instant success and is considered one of the top 100 best novels of the 20th century. The film which came out two years later is another story. This from Wikipedia: “The film was a critical disaster…Michael Caine himself has said that it was one of the worst films he had been involved in…because no one knew what it was all about. Woody Allen has made the comment that if he could live his life over again, he would do everything the same except for seeing The Magus.”
Who understood the message of The Magus in 1968? Certainly not the general public.  Even Fowles kept working on it until 1977 when he brought out a final version. Interest in psychoanalysis and mystical philosophy was growing in the West, but most of us, including women and some truly bad guys, still had the ego-driven mentality of a teenaged boy who wears the persona of a tough, white-hatted cowboy who defends the weak and is always on the side of right — even when it’s obvious to everyone else that he couldn’t be more wrong.
But the 100th monkey had hopped into a sinking canoe and we were in for a tumultuous ride down a raging river. The denizens of our collective unconscious had gained so much power that they were erupting in shocking phenomena: racial unrest, the Beatles with their Eastern religion and psychodelic drugs, the assassinations of our leaders, college sit-ins, the peace symbols and flower power of Haight-Ashbury’s hippies, the dissolving of the sexual double standard, violent protests against the Viet Nam War, and the charismatic and feminist movements.
Here’s my psychological explanation. Humanity had spent about 5,000 years developing and fine-tuning the ego, left-brained logos, and our masculine sides. All of this was a necessary part of our evolution, but then, in the first half of the 20th century, we experienced two devastating world wars, several smaller ones, and a new invention called “television.” Seeing his dark side reflected on the nightly news finally woke macho Old King Ego up. So he climbed down from his high horse and kissed Sophia, the sleeping Queen and High Priestess of the psyche who symbolizes feeling wisdom that comes from experience. We were evolving, getting back in touch with Eros, our feminine, caring, relationship-oriented side, and chaos always precedes times of great change.
So what does all hell breaking loose in Western society have to do with The Magus, Blume in Love, and me? Nicholas Urfe is near suicide due to an unauthentic life marked by unfeeling treatment of women. He’s drawn into the spell of a mysterious, magician-like man who uses a beautiful woman and an unconventional method to teach him how to feel again. Blume gets back in touch with his feelings when his desperate love for his Sophia-like divorced wife rekindles his feminine side. Like them and my society, I too was having unusual experiences that were arousing my inner feminine. Few from our generation knew what was happening, and many misused their new freedom to feel with disastrous results, but those who seized it and survived underwent life-changing initiations. Could it be that the dark Age of Unfeeling Reason is finally taking its place among the other dinosaurs of Earth’s chequered history?

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0 Responses

  1. Thanks for a wonderful post, a valuable and timely post. I remember reading The Magus so many years ago as well. I think it is time to re-read it as I seem to remember some “identification” aspects.

    1. Thank you, Robert. A professor in the late 70’s told me that on the Myers-Briggs, the only functions related to gender were Thinking (75% males, 25% females), and Feeling (75% females and 25% males). I wonder if that’s still true. When I took it then I was right smack in the middle with just a tiny edge on the Feeling side. I don’t know if it’s the way my brain is made or the way I was enculturated, but as a female with a stronger than usual Thinking function, I had some “identification” aspects too.

        1. Thanks, Skip. Either my professor was mistaken or we are loosening up on the stereotypes out of the awareness that both genders contain both functions! Jeanie

  2. It is interesting that you would refer back to that time of the 1960s, as I also recently wrote an article comparing 2012 with 1968: What is happening? If it is true that “the Dark Age” is slowly taking its place with the dinosaurs, how long do you think it will take? Surely social media is a part of the process, but will humanity evolve into the next level in a century, a decade, or just a year or two? I have noted that some societies are still developing through psychological stages, which we in the West passed 500 to 1,000 years ago. Will the collective unconscious be changed radically by the availability of social media, or will governments shut it down to the point that we can no longer communicate like this, even within the United States?
    There were a few videos available briefly on YouTube™ last fall (before our Puritan sensibilities shut them down) in which women were baring their breasts at the Occupy rallies on Wall Street and Oakland. It occurred to me at the time that the feminine was trying to tell our rational minds, “This is important, pay attention!” The last time I remember this happening in large numbers was during the protests of the 1960s. Speaking for myself, I fully expect to see a lot more of this type of thing in the coming months. I find myself wondering how we can help make these transitions less painfully.

    1. Thank you for the heads up on your article, Skip. It’s very interesting! I know the U.S. experienced major lasting changes in the 60’s and 70’s and I’ve experienced major personal psychological change in my lifetime, so I know it’s possible. Moreover I know that the desire to evolve is inherent in all of us, and that consciousness once acquired is never lost. But it’s also extremely difficult to attain and by the time most of us read mid-life, we’ve acquired about all the consciousness we want or think we need.
      I don’t know what the future holds. For every swing of the pendulum there’s always a compensatory swing in the other direction. It’s true that the swings grow less drastic over time, but are we near the balance point yet? Perhaps some people and nations are; others definitely are not. What I do know for a fact is that if each of us works on ourselves to become more conscious and share what we know, we contribute to the solution instead of adding to the problem. You and I are trying to disseminate what we know about the archetypal powers of the unconscious on our sites and I’ve found plenty of other sites doing the same. Whether enough people or nations have come far enough to prevent a shut-down on a national or global scale remains to be seen, but I believe it’s very possible, and I believe that greater consciousness will ultimately prevail, if not in our lifetime, then in the next or the one after that.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      1. The good news was that last January, when Egypt tried to shut down the internet, they also found that they shut down commerce, which is now dependent upon it. They had to restore it or have complete chaos, because no one knew where to deliver food (among other necessities). If we can all stay connected long enough; I do think there’s hope for rapid advancement. It is great to see Robert Longpre able to chime in from China (Are you still there, Robert?).

  3. What deck does the female Magician card come from?
    I just noticed for the first time that the Rider-Waite Magician appears to have moonflowers at his feet, which would hint at some mastery of the feminine, I think. I guess it just goes along with the other mixed masculine/feminine symbolism in the image.
    Love your blog. Nice choice of theme, too. 😉

    1. Hi rachelci,
      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I found this picture on Google Images and it didn’t say which deck it comes from, but I wanted an image of the feminine magician to complement the masculine one. Are those moonflowers at his feet? I don’t know. I checked my Rider Waite commentary and it says, “Beneath [him] are roses and lilies, changed into garden flowers, to show the culture of aspiration.” I agree with your observation about the mixed symbolism. The cup is very feminine, the infinity figure is a sort of Yin/Yang union of opposites/wholeness symbol, and roses and lilies have always been associated with women: the white lily, in fact, with the Virgin Mary. I used the same symbolism in a fairy tale in my first book about the feminine journey to wholeness,The Bridge to Wholeness, to symbolize the two aspects of woman: virgin (lily) and beloved (rose). Fowles used the same symbolism in The Magus which featured twin sisters who “seduced” Nicholas. Their names were Lily and Rose! As one would guess, Rose was the one he eventually took to bed!
      My best,

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