Have you ever felt like more than one person? I’m not talking about a psychotic split, but about how we can feel and behave differently in different situations or seasons. How sometimes we want to be with people and sometimes need to be alone. How we can be passionate about something today and indifferent tomorrow. How we occasionally feel separated from our true selves. If you’ve ever wondered about things like this, you, too, have pondered Life’s Big Question: “Who the heck am I anyway?”
I used to ask myself this during long summers at our vacation home in the Smoky Mountains. There I can spend hours on the porch contemplating hummingbird hostilities, listening to birds define their territories, scanning the sky for soaring hawks and gray clouds, conversing with the gurgling creek, and absorbing the rhythms of the day. I care for animals, feed fish, hike, garden. If we’re having a drought I spend hours driving around the property in my green John Deere Gator with the big water tank labeled WEEKEND WARRIOR lovingly spraying water on every growing thing in sight. I thrive on being alone. I love going nowhere, listening, feeling, sweating, getting dirty. I can’t get enough of the solitude or outdoors.
Do I want to be outdoors in Florida? Are you kidding me? It’s HOT out there! And why would I want to water plants? If they don’t get enough moisture from the dripping humidity and afternoon thunderstorms they’re on their own! In Florida I rarely think about fish or watch clouds or tend to plants. I don’t care if it rains. I want to be with my family, socialize with friends, write.
So who am I? In Florida I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, supporter of the arts, social person. In North Carolina I’m a loner, gardener, observer of nature, enjoyer of solitude. In Florida I side with Apollo, god of the sun, civilization, the cerebral life and culture; in North Carolina I honor Artemis, goddess of the moon, wilderness, the instinctual life and nature.
Did you know these two Greek deities were twins? Which is the real me? The answer, of course, is both. Carl Jung said, “Within each one of us there is another whom we do not know. S/He speaks to us in dreams…” This Another is our unconscious, an inner soup of unknown characters, complexes, untapped interests and disowned emotions. At an early age our ego adapted to the life into which we were born by incorporating the tastiest of these tidbits into our conscious personality and neglecting the rest. We may not normally be aware of the rejected ones, but they are still part of us. Since most are not crucial to our soul’s purpose they don’t mind being ignored. But there are always a critical few we have wrongly disowned. Until we befriend them they show up in our dreams and erupt into waking life in problematic ways.
Splitting my time between two homes in separate and very different settings has actually helped me heal what was once a split between my soul’s twins. For many years my ego favored Apollo’s high ideals, intellectual pursuits and cultured sensibilities, but no more. Now Artemis leads me through the wild, dark unconscious and Apollo helps me write about what she shows me. Because I love them both as much as I love my twin grandsons, there’s no sibling rivalry, no need for them to vie for my ego’s attention. Life is so much richer and more peaceful this way.
Connor and Jake, this one’s for you. Thank you for enriching my life.
Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks
Ego and God-Image: Part VII
Intellectually the Self is no more than a psychological concept, a construct that serves to express an unknowable essence which we cannot grasp as such,
Your description of time passing in the Smoky Mountains makes me ache with yearning – sounds so idyllic! And once again, Jean, I find your elegant musings serendipitous. Just the other day, feeling “alone” and on the edge of “lonely”, I chose to have a conversation with myself in my daily journal. I was thinking of how some children have imaginary friends, and how ingenious it is, at times, to turn inward for simple solutions. What a romp! It ended up being an hour of dialogue with my alter-ego, who turns out to be quite funny and aggressive. You’re right – it empowered me to be less critical of the fact that I always have several voices talking in my head. Letting them out more often can only be a good thing.
Hi Lorrie, it’s good to hear from you. And thank you for sharing this. What you’ve described is a classic example of what Jung called Active Imagination. This was the basis of all his healing work. I think it works because our inner voices are very real parts of us that need expression. They’re like a little kid that tugs on his mother’s shirt until she puts down the cell phone or whatever she’s doing and gives him her full attention, listening to him, reflecting on what he’s trying to tell her, and thoughtfully responding. They just want to be seen and heard. Once they are, they become less strident aspects of the psyche because they know they’re accepted and loved for what they are. So I totally agree with your last comment: “Letting them out more often can only be a good thing.” 🙂
This is really a beautiful piece, Jean!
Thank you, Skip. I appreciate your letting me know what you think of it!
Jeanie: Your post was waiting for me this morning. Talk about synchronicity: just last night I watched a documentary called “Chi” about a woman battling long-term cancer, who went to India in the hope of a cure. Not a Hollywood happy ending, when she returned home, a final suspicion growth on the right side of her head, was diagnosed and all treatment was stopped and she died several weeks later. As soon as this final journey began, I was moved to tears that did not stop until the credits, this woman was my mother (who died two years ago) and I was the warrior who didn’t cry in front of her. Much of what I had/have been repressing was rose to be acknowledged and released. To confirm this, last night I dreamt I, a new creative aspect, a more mature, hermaphrodite, woman in body/embodied came to and spent true time with my parents and found a camaraderie and intimate connection with each of them, separately. So, finally, now, maybe I am able to release this deep Mother/Warrior wound (just read your post on this!) as my Creator is emerging more fully. Beautiful, thank you!! And thank you for the context of the Twins/Lovers, I love it, and speaks directly to my core. Another synchronicity is that astrologically, my first house is in Taurus flanked by Aries and Gemini. I also had a question for you: do you know the book, The Dream of the Cosmos? Blessings, Lee
Oh, my Lee! My condolences for the loss of your mother. I understand your Warrior ; it helped you through a trauma at a time when you needed it. And last night it held you safe and close while you grieved. Mine has done the same for me.
So many things are coming together for you now, and in such a beautifully synchronistic way: the film, your dream, this post, your birth sign…. The hermaphrodite in your dream is a powerful symbol of the healing of a wounding split. If this were my dream I would look for a creative way to sacralize this deep integration of opposites, this crossroads in my life, that is occurring in me: perhaps involving original art, poetry, music, a private ritual, etc.—something to ground this psychospiritual reality in my physical body and everyday life.
I have read and love Anne Baring’s brilliant Dream of the Cosmos. It sits beside me on the desk where I write.
Blessings to you in this fertile new Spring of your life, Jeanie
Jeanie, thank you for your beautiful heart-opening response and your condolences. My warrior is a younger version of my Hero/ine. Opening myself to the Goddess in all her many forms, through your writing and other sources, she is now a safe gateway between my personal and the collective unconscious. Re. Anne Baring’s work, I have just came across it and am heartened by her lectures and interviews I’ve found. For me, the synchronicity of the Great work, the book title, the sacred marriage, I believe are a part of a deeper integration of the opposites and what I incarnated to do. I have never openly admitted that before, and only now reaching an embodied experience of it. And as I write this, I am just reading June Singer’s words in an essay, quoting the Gospel of St. Thomas and then saying: ” We must move in the direction of uniting the masculine and the feminine aspects of our nature, so that the inner tension will not have to be projected unto the persons that are closest to us.” I am lead to remember that in Judiasm, there is a principle called Tikkun Olam, a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” (or “healing the world”) which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world … I’ve heard it translated as that when we save one soul, we save the world. I believe that. Definitely, a heroic mission and one, as you say, deserves creative sacralization. In appreciation, Lee
I too believe that our soul-making inner work toward self-knowledge and integration is the most valuable and lasting gift we can give to the world. Singer is a favorite writer of mine as well. Thank you for your comments here, which I know are a great help to many of my readers. It’s a pleasure to find another soul sister with whom to this share journey. Jeanie
Jeanie, again, thank you for your words of support and wisdom. I am grateful to have found you and honored to be one of your soul sisters, a heroine at arms! One Path, Many Roads! You are blessed, Lee
elainemansfield commented on The Soul’s Twins
(Note from Jeanie: I received the following message about this post from Elaine Mansfield yesterday but for some reason it isn’t showing up here, so I’ve copied it from my e-mail:)
The balance sounds just right, Jeanie. I feel like there are many inner personalities and sometimes they jostle with each other. The woman who writes and reads and spends time on the computer often pushes aside the woman who loves the forest and the gardens. Practicing balance, but often failing. Practicing some more. Thanks for putting it in these archetypal and mythological images. Helps me see myself more clearly. You are indeed blessed, and so am I.
In your comment about balance you say you are practicing, but often failing, then practicing some more. Me too. In fact, I’m going to make a very profound philosophical observation. Ahem. “Life is like learning to play the ukulele!” (Or vice versa) 🙂 I could write a blog post about this. In fact, I think I will. Stay “tuned.” Thanks, Elaine. We are indeed both blessed.