light in the darkness


*And no, my post is not on ‘vacuum cleaner’ – (which works on the vacuum principle but pardon me if I don’t go any further on this).

This morning driving home from teaching reading for pupils (for those who need assistance) at a primary school, I was going through in my head about words beginning with “V” followed by a e i o u. I thought variously of ‘vacillate’; ‘vexation’; ‘vicarious violence’; ‘voice’; ‘vulture’. I felt in a vacuum, vacuously wondering –

And while driving, I realised that a vacuum may occur when the A-Z is over. 

Natura vacuum abhorret. Nature abhors a vacuum. I may find myself living in an existential vacuum at least for a while. Not for a moment will I have nothing to do; all those many other activities that have been neglected will come to the fore; packing to move into the townhouse (vacating our 26 years here in our lovely old home); maybe vacuum packing precious glassware; my own writing and much more. Maybe I’ll be able to provide a decent supper for my hard working husband on the odd occasion – veal as a treat?

‘Vacuum’ is defined as a region of space in which there is no matter, there is nothing.

Viktor Frankl writes on the ‘existential vacuum’. He posits that when we as individuals sense a vacuum in our lives, we ensure that we have stuff to do to fill it up which will provide ‘satisfaction’. Anything that keeps that vacuum-filled feeling at bay, an emptiness within, a sense of futility, we will find a way to fill it. We know in what way we fill it. A compulsion to passivity e.g.TV where violence real or otherwise is played out on the screen and from which we derive a vicarious pleasure because it is not us; conformity from a fear of being just ourselves; over eating. We vacuum up everything we can. We suck it up, faster, better, brighter. In some societies, where the government of the day is not fulfilling their promises to the population, people may find themselves living in a vacuum where nothing is happening. They may align themselves to a fundamental sect, right or left, to give their lives meaning, thus filling the vacuum.

Naomi Klein: ‘Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn’t filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.’

Desmond Tutu our own recent past Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner: ‘I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum’.

I often find myself in a vacuum when I try to create with words. My mind feels vacuum-filled. I imagine others who create with different media e.g. paint, canvas, chisel, block, film feel similarly. The screen or canvas or the instruments remain motionless and nothing comes.

Yet, somehow the voice comes and out of the nothing all is contained.

*Sophia Loren: Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.




Oscar Wilde: To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.

A compliment, a gift, a phone call from a long lost friend or relative (just as you were thinking briefly of them); a powerful piece of piercing prose that unexpectedly punches you in the paunch; bright sunlight after dreary days of downpour; a note of appreciation from someone least expected; finding money thought lost in the most unexpected place possible; all these events seem to happen out of nowhere.

Happy instances of the unexpected.

A novel, or a fairy tale, where the wind or seemingly callous creature guides the hapless sojourner and against all odds, all is well. Roald Dahl’s unexpected twists and turns in his writings that has us on edge, wondering what next? (Actually, now that I think about it, a book of his is called ‘Tales of the Unexpected’). A dream that was thoroughly unexpected – they usually are – perhaps disturbing, maybe comforting. Scientists arriving at unexpected results when researching, opening up other ‘avenues’; artists seeing the unexpected happen as they craft – going places in their work not originally imagined –

An unexpected pregnancy when all else has failed. Unexpectedly falling in love with the person least imagined. Making unexpected and unplanned for friendships over the Internet, as in this A-Z April blog challenge. Receiving nominations for awards from them which was so unexpected and for which I am grateful thank you!

All this is light and bright, and things seem to work in our favour, giving life extra flavour.

So many times though, we’re ambushed when the totally unexpected happens. It comes out and under from left field, a curve ball, urgently smacking us hard in the face.

Later: 12 noon

I drafted the above this morning. I had an 10.00 a.m. appointment with my husband’s 91 yr old aunt this morning, so off I went to her retirement village a way away with a gift of a pot of tulips (the buds tightly closed and of a crimson hue) and a small bar of her favourite nougat. The sun was not shining, it was cold and overcast.  I entered the front door, another woman the back door. Granny Barbie was dozing in her arm chair. I placed the small pot of tulips on a side table next to her. Mary and I introduced ourselves to each other and we gently woke Barbie.

Mary was an extraordinary woman, small, white haired, bright blue eyes and she held me captivated as we talked about all sorts of things. Somehow we talked of soul and the holy spirit (I think she is a lay pastor), the Bible, contemporary books on the Bible, Israel and ancient biblical stories, her upcoming trip to Iceland on a cruise with her cousin in Kent UK.

I felt my blood cells expanding as we talked, my heart opening in conversation with this erudite, ageless woman. All of a sudden she said: look at those tulips – they were opening up as we talked. From being tightly closed, they were opening. A ray of sun came through the windows. I felt a shift within me, the synchronicity to me was extraordinary. I said to Mary as such, and that this was a manifestation of something entirely unexpected and that it was a good feeling.

So, for me, an entirely unexpected meeting with Mary … and I’m so glad it happened.


                                                                T:TREEDSCN0617 A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9
The picture on the right is one I took late yesterday afternoon. My friend Jan helped me put it on my computer last night at the meeting that we had here at my home, so my thanks go to him. It is an oak, some say alba oak (white oak), some say black oak, others have identified it as another type of oak.
I don’t know how old it is, I imagine 100 years. It is huge, in terms of its width, 23 paces.
It is outside our front door, though the picture I took is from another angle. You can see all the leaves that are being shed – autumn here in South Africa, winter fast approaching. I wrote about our imminent move from our lovely home for the ‘C’ letter, and now that day is coming closer.
The estate agent, buyer and his 2 architects came by last Friday a.m. It was a dreadful morning, cold, raining. I knew that this would be my opportunity to find out what the buyers’ plans were – to bash down the house, build townhouses? But what about the tree? This was my biggest concern.
I had a fantasy of chaining myself to the tree, when they came at 11.00, but frankly, it was too darned cold and wet. Instead, I made a huge sign on red paper and attached it to the tree just before they came; thankfully it had stopped pouring. The sign said:
I am an old oak
Please may I stay
I will protect you
Thank you
I was the happiest person when assured over and over that the tree was staying and that one of the reasons Eugene and his partner bought the house was because of the Tree. They’re bashing down the house down and rebuilding it – and now that I think about it, it’s the same sort of thing we did with my husband’s late father’s townhouse, the one that we’ll be moving to.
So, The Tree: standing tall, like a sentry, guarding and protecting, its branches spreading wide, enduring weather, always regenerating, a symbol of strength.
I like the further symbolism of the Tree – ‘…its connection with the three levels of the cosmos – the Underworld through its roots burrowing deep into the soil; the Earth’s surface with their trunk and lower branches; the Heavens with their upper branches and top, reaching up to the height’.* So the connection is there with the upper and lower and in-between.
And of course, the two trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. And Yggdrasil, in Norse Mythology is the World Tree, where the gods lived. Isis, the tree goddess..
I’ll be picking up an acorn or two to plant in a pot at the townhouse as a symbolic gesture, at Jan’s excellent suggestion.
*The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols: Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant

view from my study Oct 2012

 This is a photo of trees from my study …




moon on water


Soul sinks. Spirit soars.

Soul resides in the depths, spirit in the heights.

Different images of these words.

If we use the ordinary language of logic and law in trying to define what each means, we lose the essence of these image laden words. Let’s look at them metaphorically and imaginatively and hopefully get a better sense of why they initially need separation; and if they can both work together.

Soul does not attempt to escape the grittiness and hardships of life. Spirit seeks to transcend them and rise above them. Soul resides in the psyche in each individual though  there are times when call a person soul-less. ‘S/he has no soul’. Spirit is formless, impersonal, abstract, the breath (pneuma) of God given to each of us from the moment of birth yet is always above and overshadowing us.

Soul resides in the vales (valleys), in the deep ground of our being. It is the raw material, the experiences we have on a daily basis, both good and not so good. It is in the blood, sweat and tears of everyday life, the precious salt of life, the dark of life, the depths, the swamps – the cooking, crooked, circular complexities of our being in e.g. relationships or on our own. It says yes: it is this and it is that also and all belong. Transformation happens in soul work, the deeper we go.

People who seek spiritual enlightenment very often seek them in the highest altitudes, those peaks where the light is bright and piercing. Illuminating? Often it is a solitary journey, leaving the soul behind, in ascent of spirit. It is usually goal oriented, seeking inspiration, absolute truth, yearning to be inspirited in those distant, superior lofty heights. The linear approach to spirit says: it is this and not that.

Is there a middle position between the two?

Do we experience soul in the world, and is spirit a split off from the soul? Can they be reconciled? It is of immense value to have a spiritual vision, one of divine perfection. But this is an ideal, and is not necessarily ‘of the world’, this world in which we live. Can they be metaphorically, mystically married? Can the one animate the other? Can each feed into the other using our gift of imagination to bring these two closer together?

John Keats: (In letters to his sister Georgiana) “Call the world, if you please, the vale of soul-making. Then you will find out the use of the world”.

I am indebted to the work of Carl Jung, James Hillman and Thomas Moore for the elucidation of soul and spirit.
And – I am adding this 7 hours after posting it, that both north and south stars are lodestars that are guiding lights and show the ‘way’.














OT: Psalms 118 vs 22 “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’’.

Our history is littered with events of overt rejection and repression that are clearly recognizable and with which we are familiar. The ‘other’ is too often rejected and repressed, or resisted against.

But what of less clearly recognizable ‘events’ of, and in, the psyche? Those more covert ways in which we reject others, or we reject what we don’t like in ourselves and thus seek to repress them? Or we resist asking ourselves what role we played in situations that did not work out. Are we even aware of these dynamics repeatedly going on, in ourselves and towards others?

Anything that is rejected, repressed and resisted within ourselves, or without, or simply buried in the hopes that it will never be unearthed, will always find a way out, in fateful manner, for good or ill. That which has been banished will always return, albeit in a different guise in its natural bid for expression (e.g. Lilith in guise of serpent in the Garden of Eden).

We know that sometimes our illness is psychosomatic, e.g. raised blood pressure, a skin rash, a dark mood, a stomachache or worse. This may be the result of denied and unexpressed feelings of rage and anger, even towards our most beloved.

What are we to do with these unexpressed dark, unhappy emotions? Those highly charged emotions are meant to disturb us and are valuable for that very reason – they want our attention; they want to be recognized for what they are and not lie festering in unreachable places. They want to brought out into the open and reconciled with ourselves in some constructive way.

Too often, we project onto the ‘other’, though the ‘other’ may well be the ‘other’ in you, which requires a willingness to step into those disowned and unknown parts of ourselves. Hard work, yes. And if we are still under the yoke of our patriarchal conditioning, it is quite possible that we unconsciously fear that any questioning or displays of anger or disagreement may result in a punishment, rejection and banishment similar to that meted out to Lilith and Eve.

So, we need courage – to not resist getting to know ourselves better, to not repress what rightfully belongs, and not reject the cornerstone. If we can dig, and dig some more, into the reaches of our psyches, we may find the treasure or the Philosopher’s Stone that resides there.

If one does not reject, repress and resist what we are, and rather considers it in a new way, using the skills of differentiation, discrimination and discernment, one may change one’s thinking and feeling about the situation – in the inner and outer – and ponder it anew.

Don’t ignore what seems to be irrational. Give them their due. Be responsible for yourself. Reality is freeing. Illusions keep us bound.







The words spoken by Peter to Christ : Quo Vadis – Whither goest thou?

The song by Diana Ross :  Do you know where we’re going to, do you know …?

I quake when I observe all that is going on in the world.

I have qualms about our planet and the damage to Mother Nature

I query bank charges and government policy

I hate queues and will not wait for a restaurant table

I quiz myself often about my purpose in life

I walk, cook and read quickly

I love reading about historical quests and wonder about my own

I love quotes

I am fascinated by quantum physics where the wave is also a particle

Quarks are also interesting

I sometimes want to call it quits when faced with my untidy study

The question is sometimes more important than the answer

I wonder about my allocated quota for the time left to live

The British Queen Elizabeth is gracious and I love Queen the music rock star

I sometimes have to get quarantine shots if travelling abroad

I am not mad about quince

I love quartz crystals

Some doctors are quacks

How to quell my desire for quality chocolate is ongoing

People who quibble over inconsequentials are irritating

Old and quaint are often lovely as in quill pens

I sometimes feel as if I am stepping into quicksand if I take on too much

I qualify as mother wife sister friend writer wonderer

I love night time when all is quiet and quarrels are forgotten

quarries can be dangerous if fascinating

Mac quarter pounders? My sons love them

Ok, enough already – But the movie ‘The Quartet’ was wonderful and quixotic

and my husband always has a quip to make even though the subject matter is serious



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.

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