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This next bit is a radical departure from my usual "for beginners" posts. If you're a beginner, use the category selector to the right to filter the posts.
Recently published at The Fisher King Review was an article by Lawrence H. Staples entitled "Opposites, the Creative Instinct, and Our Unique Identity." (Saturday, May 15, 2010)
In the opening section of the article, "the problem of the opposites," Staples tells us that Carl Jung saw the problem of opposites as an impediment to psychic integration, pointing out that consciousness itself is a product of the tension between opposites and that a complete merger of those opposites results in the dissolution of that consciousness.
[I needed to think about this a little before I "got" it. First, I tried to imagine what happens when heads and tails of a coin "merge." No coin, right? Then I considered "odd" and "even" for a moment. Those are opposites. What happens if they merge? I lose the separate concepts entirely, and have nothing in their place (zero?). How about truth and fiction? Merge them, and I have something that is neither truth nor fiction (therefore it doesn't exist?) OK, so the concept is that something that is by definition polar, ceases to exist when the poles come too close and merge into oneness. That's almost a "Well, duh" when you really consider it. Onward through the article.]
Staples, taking Jung's part, claims, "Consciousness of life depends upon the tension of opposites." [He doesn't say what those opposites are, though I assumed they were "good" and "evil" at this point; he actually meant all of the oppositions within us, male-female, creative-destructive, good-evil, etc.] Staples also says we are meant to bring those opposites together being mindful not to merge them. [We have good and evil within us, I took this to mean, and we cannot go back and forth between being Mother Theresa and Adolf Hitler. We tighten up the distance between them, but can never merge them utterly without losing our very selves. We need to somehow recognize this and work with it.]
Staples quotes Jung: "The one-after-another is a bearable prelude to the deepest knowledge of the side-by-side, for this is an incomparably more difficult problem. Again, the view that good and evil are spiritual forces outside us, and that man is caught in the conflict between them, is more bearable by far than the insight that the opposites are the ineradicable and indispensable precondition of all psychic life, so much so that life itself is guilt." (Jung, C.G., Collected Works 14, par. 206)
Staples, whose book, Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way, is about guilt (surprise, surprise), argues that guilt is a means for us to move back away from evil. It's a psychological mechanism for our being able to manage the duality within us. Let's set that thought aside for a moment; we'll come back to it when we look at the cards.
The next part of Staples' article looks at the creative instinct, and now he is looking at a different pair of opposites: male and female. He purports that creativity is a tool that, like guilt, we can use to assist us in resolving our nature of opposites. "This tool is creative work. Creative production in art, as in life, depends upon bringing two opposites, the masculine and the feminine, into close enough proximity to produce a 'child' (i.e., a book, a symphony, a painting, etc.) without losing the identity of the opposites that created the 'child.'"
Likening creation and God, Staples expresses the view that we approach self-completeness through creative activity. But there he departs from Jung to expound his own thesis: It is wrong of us to label good as exclusively good and bad as exclusively bad. We need the complexity of the two, and we look for it in our art, in our movies, in our novels because it more accurately reflects who we are. In fact, how we each uniquely balance our many dualities ultimately defines who we are.
Moreover, it is difficult to "see" our unique psychic selves; it is easier to see the creative product. We "know" an artist through her/his product. We "know" our selves by our creative acts. It is what we do that makes us visible to ourselves.
From there, Staples move to the role of the therapist in revealing our inner selves, but I am more interested in how working with the Tarot can help us to do that. (The article by Lawrence Staples is an excerpt from Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way).
To be continued...
Wally Swist's forthcoming book of poetry, entitled "Luminous Dream," that was chosen as a Finalist in the 2010 FutureCycle Poetry Book Award, will be honored by a book launching, sponsored by Booklink Booksellers, located in Thorne's Marketplace on Main Street in Northampton, MA, on Thursday, 7 October, at 7:00 p.m.
"Luminous Dream" collects fifty-one
When we are in times of trouble, we seek advice. It is then that we are most vulnerable. It's important to know what a Tarot reader's own guidelines are. Here, for example, is my personal code of ethics regarding doing readings:
Yes. Think about this question logically.
If you and I are sitting across from each other, would it matter how far apart the table is? Of course not. The table, in a telephone reading, might be thousands of miles across, but it is still me with my grandmother's Tarot de Marseille deck answering your question, and you hearing the answer.
Open Meditation for everyone...