Is Peace Possible? Between nations, between tribes, between ourselves in our relationships and peace within our own selves, peace of heart, mind and soul? Can the warring that goes on within and without ever be calmed and the lion lie down with the lamb?
 Moshe Dyan (1915-1981) past Israeli Military leader and crusader for peace:
“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies”.
Talk: don’t dismiss out of hand. Engage and take it from there. Listen. Who knows, one may find that there are more similarities between the two ‘negotiaters’ than one realised. The demons may become daemons.
We all have our inner demons. They rage within us. But unless they are engaged with, they remain hidden, festering in the dark shadows. And there they stay, scratching, like any problem or conflict that is swept under the carpet. Yet, those demons are enacted ‘out there’ in ways that are inappropriate and harmful, not only to ourselves but to others too.
But if we brought those demons out into the clear light of day, ‘do battle’ with them, and do the hard work demanded of us, then we may find the middle ground, acceptance of our shadow, allowing it it’s rightful place. The ego does not have to be discarded by any means, though our shadow will ‘do battle’ with it. The ego wants supremacy. The shadow needs acknowledgement that it is very much a part of us, and does not want to be ignored. It wants to be met by us, engaged with, listened to, not to be swept under the carpet. It is a kind of violence to ignore what is within us –
What is the reality of war and fighting in the name of peace? Who gains most? The  propagandists of war who drum up patriotic fervour, are usually not those in the front line. They are not the ones who have their limbs blown off by bombs, shrapnel and guns; they are not the casualties of war who are gang-raped by blood thirsty war mongers; they are not the ones whose children are dead; they are not the ones whose sons and daughters return home, shattered by the horrors of the reality on the ground, air, or the seas.
At what price peace? Are there ‘just wars’? I believe there are, but now is not the place to go into this. Every nation has a right and duty to defend itself against unjust aggression.
‘We have a terrible Love of War’ as James Hillman says. There is no more intense an experience than being in the middle of the archetypal forces of LIfe and Death, fully in the middle. Can this tension be held?
Are our inner demons played out on the world stage? Can we start with ourselves and wrestle with our own inner demons and transform them into helpful daemons, thereby playing our part in promoting peace?
Gandhi: Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone.










Is reconciliation possible between the few opposites I have listed below? Is there any value in uniting those opposites? Is there a centre? Are they opposites or do they belong to each other, two sides of coin, part of a larger cycle?

 acceptance : rejection

  peace :  war

          salvation: damnation

       light : dark

     good : bad

         spirit : matter

        day : night

     angel : devil

           strength : weakness

         saint : sinner

        sacred: profane

They seem to lie so far apart from one another and we may inclined to identify with one side of the pole over the other; if not for ourselves, then we view the one pole as more ‘ideal’.

But, like the moon, we darken and there are times that the devil gets into us and we enact in some way our darker impulses and then we wonder how we, ‘angels’ as we view ourselves, or the person who we thought was ‘above’ such action could have been so devilish. Somehow the unconscious within, seems to act counter to the wishes of the conscious mind.

We do meet these opposites in our every day lives. I know from personal experience and from wondering about them as to how it was possible for example, that I could have both the sinner and saint within me. I can be manic one moment and depressed the next. I can feel optimistic about life in general and an incident can have me swinging over to the other side. I know that I can be creative one moment and hugely destructive the next in relation to e.g. food whereby I had been mindful for several days of exercise and good eating habits, then in a fit of something (unconsciousness), will undo all the good that has been done.

All the opposites reside within our psyches. We ALL contain the polarities of good and evil, agony and ecstasy, sainthood and sinfulness, bliss and pain. Things are seldom ‘either-or’. When we are racked by conflict, we can be sure that an opposite has been activated within. The task is to hold the tension between the two until a symbol reconciling the two appears. After one has differentiated the opposites, a third, uniting factor can appear. Both poles are necessary although at timed we experience only one pole for a while. We sit in that uncomfortable place even if the destructive dimension is more apparent.

We know that our weakness can turn into our strength. What we may perceive as our vulnerabilities may in fact be our strength if we can work it out.

This is a vast subject and I have definitely bitten off more than I can chew. It was an over reaching on my side to attempt to write about this in 500 words or less. But I hope that this brief glimpse into the opposites gives you something to chew on.

And I sincerely hope that from the tragedy of the Boston bombing, for the survivors and their families, for all those grieving and for all of America, some light will shine on this terrible darkness.



N – Night : Nigredo





It is a Dark Day for

Boston and the marathoners; for all of America. My deepest sympathies are with you all for this terrible tragedy. May the law take its course and the perpetrator/s be brought to justice.

Some of our South Africans are among the injured as they were crossing the finish line. Our president has sent his condolences to your president and expressed our outrage at this.

Night has fallen too soon for too many …

 I’m writing about the dark night of the soul – that deep, dense, dark, desert-dry, dreaded silence where even God does not answer. Our souls lose connection with everything in the world and with God. No one can reach us. It is too deep, even beyond pain. It is a ‘disintegration’; a spiritual or existential crisis par excellence. There is no meaning in life. There is no way out, all doors are closed and bolted. The night is dense indeed.

Many of us have experienced the ‘dark night’ in some way or the other. Deep grief and loss on the death of a loved one, illness, breakdown of a marriage, loss of secure job, betrayal by friend, rejection, coming to a stage in our lives where there seems to be no meaning in it any more. The empty nest syndrome is very real where the mother has no identity other than being the caretaker for her offspring. The list is endless. We do not enter into this willingly.

Those who are severely depressed, experience this on an ongoing basis. If they are in a state of immobilisation and unable to work effectively, they may be fortunate enough to  make use of safe medically prescribed drugs. Others may seek the help of a skilled therapist who can act as a safe ‘container’ for their ‘dark night’. Yet, many others seek a way out of escaping that darkness by means of inter alia drugs, drink, food, or throwing their energies into work, work, work, avoiding relationship with their partners.

    Can we escape this metaphoric darkness? I doubt it. Can we listen to what our soul is saying to us by way of e.g. dreams and pay them the attention they deserve? If we can acknowledge the ‘shadow’ that we each have in the dark recesses of our psyche, meet the dragon and come to terms with it, we may be able to lighten the dark. Is it something that we can apply a band-aid to and be done with it? No. It needs to be suffered through, allowed to incubate, turn blacker if necessary and our fragility and vulnerability is to be honoured.

The deep night ultimately does give way to the dawn – the darkness though, needs to be made conscious.

C.G. Jung says: ‘Right at the beginning you meet the dragon, the chthonic spirit, the devil or, as the alchemists called it, the blackness, the nigredo, and this encounter produces suffering’. Jung saw this deepening stage as necessary for the individuation of the individual, i.e. for coming a wholeness of `Self’.

Monday : Moon day

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9moon on water






I hope you all had a great weekend!

So, another week into the A-Z and we are halfway through! ‘M’ is the 13th letter of the alphabet; 13 more to go. 13? – lucky number? Why not –

Monday is mostly assumed to be the first day of the week, as this is the day that people go back to work, those who hold 9-5 jobs and children go back to school. But it really is the second day of the week, Sunday being the day on which the new week begins.

I look at my diary now to double check what lies ahead; what I’ve noted down and what I’ve forgotten to note. What on earth will I write for ‘N’ for the A-Z? I can think of nothing – maybe I’ll write about ‘nothingness’. ‘O’? oh no …

The Greeks named the days after the sun, the moon and the 5 known planets, Ares, Hermes, Zeus, Aphrodite and Cronus. Sun’s day became Sunday. Moon’s Day became Monday.

The Sun Day is bright and visible; the moon, earth’s own satellite, represents night and the unseen with its zillions of stars beyond.

I love this acknowledgement of the moon and its historical and etymological association with Monday. She stands for the feminine principle:yin, and her receptivity to the sun:male, yang, whose lights she reflects. Although she produces no light of her own and projects the light of the sun, this ‘mirroring’ is a profound metaphoric way of illuminating the dark as well as her relation to the (male) Sun. She is queen of the night; responsible inter alia for the changing tides; some plant according to the moon cycle;  women’s menstruation (menstruation means moon change – and perhaps lunacy at this time?); the movement of the celestial bodies – 

 I look out of my bedroom balcony on a clear night and see where the moon is in its phases –  waning: symbolic of letting go and incubating; new moon: symbolic of rebirth; waxing: on the way to fullness; full moon: fullness, peak …

Like the Moon, the month has its phases, neatly divided up into four weeks with a bit of overlap on either side. Before we know it Monday has arrived, then the next, and the next, and all of a sudden we are into another month already!


LILITH: Dark Feminine


Lilith -A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9

According to the Midrash*, Lilith was born at the same time as Adam in the Garden of Eden and thus they were equal. Because of Lilith’s refusal to be submissive to Adam and the ensuing argument in which Adam refused to see Lilith’s side of the story, she was  banished to the depths of the Red Sea to be never seen or heard of again. But she does re-appear, in the guise of the serpent who offered Eve the apple, and hence was instrumental in Adam and Eve’s exile. In psychological terms, this banishment is referred to as the ‘Rise’ of man, and not the ‘Fall’as it is seen as necessary to get out of unconsciousness and to strive for consciousness.

Lilith has a seriously bad reputation. She is viewed inter alia as a whore, responsible for the death of new borns, men’s wet dreams at night (to sap their strength), Bride of Satan… In her demonised form she is indeed frightening and threatening.

She is seen as all we are NOT, she who is the container for the dark and earthy creative feminine. We have all sought to repress her through our projections. We have put her out there, as not belonging to us and the hard work is bringing her in again, allowing her into our psyches to her rightful place within us.

If we can relate to her in a more compassionate way we can see in her, some of ourselves. We all get into horribly dark places at times, when we feel unloved, unappreciated, unvalued, unfairly treated, exiled even from ourselves and we feel that dark, destructive and dangerous energy rising. Too often we act out our feelings of rage and despair, stuffing ourselves with food, whiskey, drugs, anything, to rid us, numb us, of those uncomfortable feelings and emotions.

What are we to do with that energy? Do we disregard it as too foreign to ourselves, too black? Can we bring this dark Lilith energy out the shadows and connect to it in a different way, releasing some of its demonic powers by acknowledging her? Any dark energy stored in darkness tends to become distorted and, if so disregarded, it turns against us to our detriment.

Her energetic force arose as a result of opposition and suppression. Her spirit was broken but not indefinitely. If we bathe her, wash and cleanse her with our tears she will be redeemed and transformed. We need to cleanse her from the socially conditioned and condoned guilt that we have taken it upon ourselves to suffer. Can we reach deep inside ourselves and connect to the core of our sadness, anger and wounding and allow healing to take place allowing the feminine divine to be restored?

It is important to be aware of her divine and demonic powers. She is not to be cast out and banished. She needs to be redeemed through our conscious awareness of her.

Barbara Koltuv, in her book The Book of Lilith says: ‘Experiencing Lilith in her many forms is part of the process of giving birth to the feminine self‘. (italics mine)

Hannelore Traugott, German Lilith expert:  ‘ .. Lilith…is striving to become conscious again. Let’s call it archaic energy, spiritual femininity, something akin to the wisdom of the goddess. As long as we don’t have access to this energy we experience it psychologically as loss, suppression, isolation, emptiness, addiction and above all, power struggles’.

 * Midrash: Rabbinic study into the spirit of the scriptures for a larger understanding.

** Oil painting by John Coller, 1887





MT KILIMANJARO : The highest mountain in Africa 
5895 metres
Yes, I climbed – and summitted it along with good friends in August 1999!
As you can see, we made the cover of National Geographic, and if you read the blurb on the cover, you will see why! KILIMANJARO
We planned this event as a celebration of the turn of the 20th century. Susan and Frederic, good friends on the rhs of the picture, came from the States, I am in the middle, George and Vonn on the lhs.
It was an event not without its dramas. I was training like mad prior to leaving Johannesburg. My left leg packed up several weeks before and I could barely walk let alone train. But an injection into my butt two days before departure took away the pain (it was a miracle) and off we flew to Tanzania.
The first day of our climb we hit MUD, my back pack was way too heavy and I thought this was the end of me. The mud was like the nigredo to me – being fully in the blackness of despair. Susan and I talked of death – when we could talk. My sleeping bag went astray the first night and the second night but George had an extra one, bless his thermal socks.
Wilson, our leader, was like a good father to us, encouraging us to go ‘pole pole’, Swahili for ‘slowly slowly’ so as to acclimatise to the ever increasing thinness of the air. He said many times to us when we were in despair, ‘if it’s not difficult it’s not worth it’, a mantra in the moment that kept us going.
The Barranco Wall on the 3rd day – no, surely not! Not possible to climb over THAT! Surely now was the time to shed my mortal coil. But somehow, my body made unbelievable contortions to get over it.
Luckily none of us in our group had succumbed to `altitude mountain sickness’ which, if it happens, it’s off the mountain immediately. We met a few highly trained younger men from Cape Town with their own physician, who had succumbed and they had to get off. If AMS gets you it gets you. No fault no blame.
Long story short: at 11 p.m. on the 5th night we left Barafu camp to begin the final ascent.  My water bottle froze, my headlights gave up. Julius, one of the porters, my guide, my shadow, wordlessly pushing, guiding, encouraging, pole pole.
The sun rose several hours later; we reached Stella Point, 200 meters below Uhuru. Glaciers as far as the eye could see. Gigantic, imposing, awesome! Uhuru was in sight!
We reached Uhuru at 7.45 a.m. We all promptly burst into tears and hugged each other and cried some more. We were ecstatic. WE’D MADE IT! Feeling is believing! UHURU – like a lion roar!
The descent off the mountain was another story. Only later did it hit me that once you get up you have to get down – as above so below. It was a re-visited nightmare, hitting primordial thick sloppy sludgy mud, AGAIN!
In summary, each of us was going into the unknown, stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones. I am sure that our attitude to this was just about right  – do your best, be aware, be attentive, be yourself, be grateful to the Fates, fellow travellers, guides –
We spent 2 nights thereafter at Maji Moto and 2 nights at the Ngogorogoro Crater Lodge, safari lodges in this beautiful part of Africa, where the wildlife is abundant. Rhino, elephant, lion, wildebeest, flamingo … o my … no words –
O, incidentally, Susan and Frederic had the cover of the National Geographic especially made!



light among the shadows



 JUNG: CARL GUSTAV: 1875-1961

This is a quote by C.G. Jung in CW 9 : AION: 126

“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves”. (emphases mine)

The above picture to the left of the A-Z badge shows light falling onto the surrounding darkness. It is meant to show metaphorically, that when we look into our own souls and the darkness that resides within, and if we actively acknowledge it, its power is reduced and the light will shine.

The quote speaks to the unknown within us that yearns to be known. That hidden stranger who waits patiently in the wings, who is willing to guide us so they we may be a little more whole, within and without.

For the purpose of today’s A-Z blog challenge, I am using only a very few powerful quotes of Jung’s which are worthy of reflection.

‘Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity’.
darkness‘Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people’.

‘We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses’.

‘Where loves rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other’.

‘We deem those happy who from the experience of life have learned to bear its ills without being overcome by them’.

Carl Gustav Jung was born in Kesswil, Switzerland. He trained as psychiatrist and formed a friendship with Sigmund Freud which after several years (1907-1913) ended. He was the founder of analytical psychology which emphasises the individual coming to know him/herself and in becoming what one truly is.

I : Image & Imagination




I: Image & Imagination
I: Image & Imagination








Einstein famously said: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’.

He replied when asked by parents who wanted to know how to enhance their children’s intelligence: ‘If you want your children to be more intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales‘.

Why is this do you think?

The short answer is that the child uses its imagination when hearing or reading the story. There is a fascination about dragons that need to be overcome, dungeons to be explored; or the wicked stepmother lurking in the shadows, or the helpful bird that saves the day; and also a fascination of tales that do not have a neat and happy story line. Children may not have the emotional understanding to relate the tale to their own lives, but it resonates in some way as the fairy tale or myth expresses essential truths about the human condition in a metaphoric way.

As adults we also get lost in gripping tales as images come to mind. We may know that we are not literally Parsifal in search of the Holy Grail; yet in some way we sense that we too seek redemption and healing; and it seems that we too have to go metaphorically through TS Eliot’s ‘wasteland’ as life challenges us.

Image and imagination are inextricably linked. Knowledge is fixed (I’m not knocking knowledge); imagination has no boundaries. The image that emerges from eg a dream requires that it NOT be fixed forever but that it is given room to breath and, more especially, that I engage in it, and allow it the attention that it demands of me and let it act as a psychopomp or daimon (guide) as it changes, moves, up or down, is fed by other images, enlarges, darkens, brightens, surprises and leads me ‘towards‘ – whatever that may be.

Does the artist know the outcome of his painting as his paint brush hovers about the canvas? Does the writer know the final outcome of his words? The poet? Of course there may be an idea of where the work is intended to go – the plan – but as the artist knows, the muse or the imagination may take him or her to places where they never imagined, the door will be kept open, imagery will flow and they will feel the richer for it entering into the ground of uncertainty.

The wound of the Fisher King (the Grail Keeper) is healed and transformation happens when Parcifal poses the socially uncomfortable yet conscious question:’Whom does the Grail serve?’ It is a metaphor for the question we could ask of ourselves as we play with the image using our imagination.


H: HAIR)lady with hair



  On the one hand, I don’t care much about my hair; on the other hand –

Sometimes look in the mirror and think o no! NOW’s the time to have it cut, maybe the roots done, a flash or three here – or, and a big or, to wait awhile, maybe do the roots myself in the bathroom quickly, at much less cost and think about a cut, shape and style another time, when I have time.

Too many times I have done the hair colour myself and it’s been much too dark and perfectly horrible.

Many years ago I would take my sons as schoolchildren to George the Greek barber, until the day I asked him if he would cut my hair. It’s short you see – yes, he said, he would. I am no longer fazed by the peculiar looks of others – mostly much, much older men in the barber shop (or the mothers of boys) when I dash up the road to George for a quick trim. I get very fazed though a day or so later when I actually hate the hair cut he’s given me and then I make an appointment with Derek, at the hair salon. Which is what happened last week. The previous week I’d dashed up to George just for a slight trim thinking the following week or the week after (this week), that I would have my roots done. It looked fine that day after George had cut it; the next day it was horrible and in the ensuing days it looked just terrible. Seriously awful – I was down in the dumps. So I made an appointment at the salon with Derek this past week for a proper shape and to have the roots done.

                 Derek (Vidal Sassoon trained (I know – from one extreme to the other) is used to me coming to him to fix my folly. We had an interesting discussion. He maintains that the obsession with hair is a form of addiction, not unlike alcoholism, drugs, retail therapy or any other form of addiction. Instant gratification is what is required he says. He says that it is extraordinary how women allow their hair to be tortured into shapes that their hair really doesn’t want to go. The amounts of money that women spend on their hair would make me gasp he said. We talked about hair – most people he said don’t have good hair, it’s too thick or too thin, or they suffer hair loss.

Well, I was intrigued, especially given my need for instant gratification when I am not happy with my hair (inter alia). On occasion while travelling to exotic places, I have stopped by the roadside where hair is being cut and had a quick trim. Actually, I have done this several times and if not at the roadside, then in cities other than my own – searched for a salon that can take me NOW. A frisson of excitement –

A tiny bit of google research yields interesting information ..

Hair expresses what we are and wish to be –

Ancient civilisations: our thoughts dwell in the hair – and maybe it’s true –

It is our skin’s expression; it communicates us; it has message and sensuality; it has a biologic function but we ornament it, giving it a social meaning –

Within its chemistry, the hair keeps our mood and the memory of our ailments –

Maybe in a 2000 years, somebody could take a look on our hair (sic) and know something about us –

The above excerpted from: thehistoryofthehairsworld.com

So, for the moment I am happy with my hair re-shaped and roots done, rescued from my folly by Derek. Next week I will have some flashes or highlights or whatever they are called, by Derek at the salon. Or maybe later on this week – I’ll see when I look at my hair tomorrow, or the next day and check out my satisfaction or otherwise.

I wonder what this all means?


soulA-Z G for GENESI




In memory of the Holocaust.

– Genesis: ‘Origins’. The Hebrew word ‘Beresheet’ meaning ‘In the beginning’ –

Have you ever had the desire to read the Bible, from beginning to end? I have, but I haven’t accomplished this. I sometimes read parts of it for research which often becomes sheer pleasure. But I mostly read psychological expositions on it which I find extremely illuminating, by authors whose purpose is to show (inter alia) that while the place and setting, circumstances good or ill have drastically changed, the dynamics of the human condition have changed little. We continue to search for meaning in our lives, for our sense of identity, connection to our neigbour, a connection to our soul -. 

Interestingly, the Bible gives no biography of God – we are introduced to Him by His actions which were all good and creative for example: light is created to balance the darkness (ignorance).

He creates Adam and then Eve as a catalyst for his growth, so they that they can be in relationship and dependent upon each other as equals. Yet God is genderless and so it’s interesting that He creates them in His own image. What does this mean? God is surely infinite; so does this mean that we too have an infinite capacity to grow? To keep on developing our potential and our identity –  and not be defined by anyone else’s? So that we have, or find within us, the ability to journey to find our own soulful centre?

Adam and Eve each denied that they were to blame for eating the apple. But we see in  their expulsion from Paradise that, with this, paradoxically, came the gift of free will, with  accountability and responsibility as its partner. And, we gain a psychological insight into the power of denial. The universal story of growing up and leaving home – leaving established boundaries and voyaging into the unknown is apparent.

Cain and Abel – blessed first borns to Adam and Eve – what can we learn from this tragic fratricide? The Lord says to Cain when He questions Cain’s sadness at Abel’s offerings being preferred: ‘But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must master it. And to you shall be its desire, and yet you may rule over it’. God essentially tells Cain that denial will not be accepted and that he has the choice to make the right decision. Cain’s violent impulse was not restrained and he kills his brother. He then challenges God ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (denying accountability yet again) and is bereft when he is cast out, marked on his forehead, nevertheless with the mercy of God upon him. Thus begins the separation of nations ..

What can we infer from this, today? It’s extremely tricky for me. Was God capricious in favouring Abel’s offering over Cain’s and why allow Cain to live albeit in exile? Why was Abel’s murder not prevented? Is this the first instance of evil winning over good? Does it illustrate the inherent evil in us so graphically enacted? Was this an unjust death? So often this is how it is … God’s favoured ones die unjust and undeserved deaths. 

Was Cain envious of his brother as happens within the family? A child who perceives rightly or wrongly that its parent/s favours his sibling over him/her, feels a rejection in the ground of its being. I can only infer that Cain’s violent anger arose from extreme envy. How can we tame the beast that crouches at our door? Sibling rivalry or rivalry between our colleagues, friends, envy between groups, cultures, countries is ever present, in today’s world.

If the first few chapters are read with a psychological and contemporary eye we can see the potency of these human stories. They do not contain sweet and simple tales with happy endings. Rather, the allegories in just these two stories, highlight the contradictions and extreme difficulties and sufferings we all face in our daily lives. We can temper the sadnesses by generating growth in our lives by seeking deeper and deeper – and remembering our genesis –

And which helps me believe in the unfolding of our souls, throughout our lives.




A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9owl wisdom



Janis Joplin: Me & Bobby McGee


Chorus: ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,

Nothing don’t mean nothing if it ain’t free.

And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,

You know feeling good was good enough for me

Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee’

(I’ve put a clip at the bottom if you want to listen to it-it is a shortened version; I hope it works).

So, ‘Freedom’

There’s ‘freedom’ from, ‘freedom’ to, freedom of, fear of ‘freedom’ – and many more no doubt.

Freedom sounds so great and it is great – freedom from bondage and slavery for example. Here in South Africa we fought for political freedom and equality of all races to have the freedom to vote, to inter-marry between races inter alia; we have freedom of expression in myriad forms e.g. art, speech, film-making, mostly in Western countries; we have freedom of choice; we have free will; we have the freedom to marry same sex partners; we try to free ourselves from parental conditioning in our striving for maturity and autonomy and so on …

We’ve fought hard for our freedom. In South Africa, our past president Mr.Nelson Mandela broke the yoke of oppression; there’s Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara, Golda Meir, Aung San Suu Kyi, Rosa Parks who defended her right not to go to the back of the bus to mention but a few who risked their lives against oppressive injustice and in the name of freedom.

But, how free are we really, we who accept freedom as our right to express ourselves in any which way, free to make choices, free to do as we see fit, hopefully for the benefit of all?

Freedom from the boundaries of Paradise – and free will – was the great gift bestowed on us when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden; yet paradoxically, freedom has great limitations.

Which is how it should be. Without limits, freedom for the strong means slavery for the poor. Freedom has a partner – responsibility. Which means restraint in our enactment of freedom, to ensure that no-one is harmed intentionally or unintentionally in our utilisation of the gift of free will. And this is where it gets tricky. Many of the decisions that we make are based on motives that are unconscious and not honestly considered, and lead us to making less than ideal choices. 

Erich Fromm posits our ‘fear of freedom’ – when we come to realise that we are each responsible for our own fate, we become afraid ..

How free are we from the forces of the media who say we will feel better if we buy this or that; or this car will win you admirers; or this cream will take years off your face; or this diet will make you lose weight? Too many of us are slaves to the media hype and make decisions based on it. We do NOT make conscious choices. We believe the hype and continue to ‘allow’ the media the freedom to influence our decisions. It makes us dizzy. Are we making the best wide awake choices for our children or are we still sleeping towards enslavement – in the name of freedom.

I like Kierkegaard’s definition of anxiety: ‘the dizziness of freedom’.




Sylvia Plath: ‘If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed’:The Bell Jar.

 This may seem a rather negative and pessimistic outlook on life but let’s look at how ‘expectations’ impact on our every day lives.

‘I expected that I would get the promotion at work’.

‘I truly expected that my husband/wife would never have an affair’.

‘I expected that my relationship/partner/spouse would bring me happiness and fill the hole in my heart’.

‘I just assumed that all was ok with Jane/John and expected that s/he understood …’

‘I expected that after all I had done for Jane/John that s/he would have reciprocated when it was my turn …’

So many expectations, so many disappointments when they are not met. Our sports heroes – Oscar Pistorius here in South Africa, Lance Armstrong – we set them up as heroes and are crushed when we feel failed. They have not upheld the ideal of what we expected.

What about the reality of our lives? Do we build a wall around ourselves when we have expectations of how ‘things should be’? Because sadly, along with expectations is this ‘assumption’ of how things should be. What about seeing life for what it is, instead of how we expect it to be? Many times our expectations are false and/or unrealistic and place an uninvited burden on the other.

I am not sure whether this is something we learn as we experience disappointments, or whether it is as plain as day. Surely it is unfair on the other to have expectations of them. Yet, paradoxically, I am at home with my family having expectations of me – that I can be depended upon no matter the situation. My friends can expect loyalty from me and a willing hand to help whenever needed. This is a valid expectation which I am happy enough and prepared to fulfil. This is on my terms or way of being. But, do I expect my friends to be at my beck and call just because they are my friends?

We do have certain expectations I suppose, that e.g. our president and the cabinet, or colleagues, or health care system, or road agency, or spouse, or children or school will meet the mandate given them. I expect that the flight that I have booked will leave on time. I expect that the hairdresser’s scissors will not accidentally slip when my hair is being cut. I expect that I will die; I expect that according to the law of averages, my sons will outlive me. I hope they produce children – that would be a lovely bonus.

I think the only legitimate view on expectations though, is to have high expectations of our own self, and then work hard to make that a reality – and even to exceed our own expectations.



attention to the dream


– An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter –

The Talmud

Ah, that night time activity! That wakes me at 4.43, or at 3.11 a.m. or at some other ungodly hour. I switch on my cell phone for light, pick up my journal and pen so that I can record my dream swiftly – and go back to sleep.

When I look at my dream scratchings when awake, I can make no sense of it at all. How very strange, odd. What on earth has this to do with me I wonder. I can make no connection to it at all. It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with my waking life –

I take my dreams seriously because I know that my unconscious is trying to say something to me – for that is from where the dream comes. I am the author of my own dream afterall. No-one else. The dream comes from me alone. Who ARE those unknown people in my dream? Why am I in an unfamiliar place? Just lately, I have been in extremely unusual places in my dream world. Hotel rooms, bed and breakfast places, lecture halls inter alia. I haven’t been anywhere for a while – but ahh – does this have anything to do with our imminent move from our old house to new abode? Transition?

Maybe, maybe not.

If I know anything, it is that is important NOT to come to any immediate conclusion or interpretation of the dream. That would be too easy. I would be selling the dream short if I were to do that.

I know that the dream does not tell me what I already ‘know’. It indicates what I need to know.

And of course it is not easy to decipher. I find I have to adopt the stance of ‘detective’ to see if I can pick up on an obscure clue; or ‘archeologist’ on the scent of something – I have to dig ever deeper and pay attention to my inner world, and bring an attitude of ‘unknowing’ when I consider it.

And to make it even more tricky and difficult, the dream does not speak in the language we are most familiar with – that of logic and reason. O no – it speaks in a foreign language, that of image, symbol, myth, metaphor. Its language is far from linear and is always unpredictable. Learning a new language – that of dreams – is a life long process, and it means going into uncharted waters.

Why do I pay attention to my dreams you may ask?

I perceive alchemy at work in my dreams. I know that my dreams are there to guide me, to explore as yet unknown parts of myself in my soul’s search for wholeness. I value that my dreams come from that deep well of unconsciousness and that I may be retrieving a tiny part of it when I give them the attention that they deserve. I am willing to learn.

Carl Jung: ‘Your vision will become clear only when you look into your own heart.

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes’.




It’s an evocative word – and such a complex concept.

I thought of writing about creativity, complexes, conflict, consciousness, complacency, choice –

But, I find myself writing about change – even if it wasn’t on my ‘list’ of ‘c’s’.

On the personal front, a big change looms. Changing homes – from a large, comfortable (old), double storey home on an acre of ground where we have lived for the last 25 years and has been our home in which our now adult sons, grew up.

It is a lovely old home, the garden is beautiful, the pool wonderful in summer, the old oak tree outside our front door is magnificent and always an object of awe and admiration when people come to visit. My Zen garden underneath its huge branches is pleasing and calming – all green. There are stones, large and small interspersed with the green. A birdbath is under its branches.

Our ‘entertaining area’ is a large covered verandah overlooking the garden, comfortably furnished, lovely in all seasons. We sometimes have people here for brunch, lunch, or a lunchtime braai (barbecue). All enjoy themselves as do the hosts – myself and husband.

If I contemplate the changes, I get a funny feeling in my stomach. I don’t really want to consider the complexity of this – it is too big a change.

Will it all run smoothly, this move from our home to our new home? The new home is not entirely new – my husband’s late father had lived in the townhouse for many, many years and, on his death we rented it out, which is how it has been for these last several years.

About 2 years ago, we bashed the townhouse down and re-created it to our specifications as it was our aim at some stage to sell our home and move into the townhouse – downsize. Live simpler, use less, streamline, less expense.

The physical changes of the townhouse were drastic and lovely and we looked forward to moving into the townhouse as soon as we sold our home.

But, we realised that the chances of selling our home in this economic climate here in South Africa were slim. The property market has been flatter than a pancake in the last several years. Plus, our present house is really old and does not have the requisite 4 bedrooms en suite etc or have marble this and gilt that.  So, we let out our newly furbished beautiful townhouse to a corporate client on contract from the UK to one of our mining houses.

But, early this month we sold our home. And fortuitously, the corporate client leaves at the end of April.

So, the town house will be ours to move into by the end of next month – to move in slowly I hope, over a few months, hoping that the final transfer of our home to the buyers takes quite bit of time.

Much of our furniture to be sold, much else to be donated.  Moving into a smaller home, less responsibility. A new life, but a death in some way as well.

I don’t know what the change will bring – it will be huge I know. Moving out of my comfort zone, adjusting, adapting. Being challenged on every front. A funny feeling in my tummy.

From where I write, in my study, this is my view onto a part of my garden – soon, no longer visible to me.view from my study Oct 2012
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