Friday, July 22, 2011

"Hospitality Towards the Gods..."

I'm aware that doing this blog presents certain challenges because of my cognitive limitations. Even though I've spent years studying Jung it has been hard for me to access the material since getting sick four years ago. So it is with some self-consciousness and some fear that I won't be able to articulate or organize the information in a readable way that I begin.

Studying Jung was one of my favorite things to do. Having this blog will allow me to delve back into that place of poetic soulfulness that I use to enjoy so much.

I want to start with the classical story of Philemon and Baucis.

The story as told by Ovid goes like this: the world has become ungodly. The two divine strangers, Jupiter and Mercury, wandering the earth, do not find any hospitable place of rest until Philemon and Baucis, living under very modest conditions, accept the two guests into their home and serve them hospitably, not withholding from them anything that their scanty household can offer. Baucis is even willing to offer them their only goose, saved for a special occasion as a sacrifice to the Gods. Then it happens that the Gods reveal themselves, that the simple hut is changed into a temple, and that the two old people are made the priests of this sanctuary forever, whereas at the same time a flood consumes the ungodly human race.

The story tells of a metamorphosis. In the beginning there are two wanderers, likely dirty and dressed in rags, and not in the least bit divine. And a simple hut with two modest old people. In the end we have two Gods, a magnificent temple, and two dignified priests.

On the face of it, what happened is very simple and ordinary. Two strangers visit a home and are entertained. The hosts and guests get along well, and so the goose, saved for a special occasion is remembered and served. Philemon and Baucis realizing that in this very moment the special occasion has already arrived. That is all. It's simply a human encounter, eating food, having good conversation,, all this, however, within an atmosphere of true hospitality.

The revelation of the Gods completes this natural movement of hospitality. The Gods here embody the the essence of presence. Jupiter is Zeus Xenios, the God of hospitality. In other words Jupiter is the God of the present moment. And the presence of Mercury, the God of commerce and interpretation of exchange and communication, indicates that this evening must have led to a true meeting of souls between the hosts and guests. Jupiter and Mercury present the divine face of this ordinary situation.

Philemon and Baucis, with a total devotion to the shape of the moment, willingly spent or even wasated the little they had, without reserve, in response to its uniqueness of the moment. Because they lovingly surrendered to the present and allowed what they had to be consumed, the present could be consumated in return and reveal its own immanent archetypal or divine face. The moment of hospitality began to shine.

The name Philemon means the loving or hospitable one. Similarly, the name Baucis is the tender or affectionate one. And the goose that Baucis offers to the Gods is Aphrodite's bird. Love made it possible for the hosts to surrender and splurge. By letting go and freely sacrificing the goose to their guests, Philemon and Baucis fed the moment with love and with the rich fat and round wholeness of the bird.

Feeding the here and now with love or 'the goose' releases the image of the present moment, which would otherwise remain hidden. Any moment to which we abandon ourselves with this loving devotion will find its fulfillment.

Why hospitality? The story wants to show that it is hospitality to whatever present moment may knock at our door that allows this moment to reveal its Divine radiance.

In 1923 Jung built his Bollingen Tower. Acting as an axis mundi (cosmic axis, world axis, center of world; expresses a connection between heaven and earth where the four directions meet) the Tower connected Jung concretely with the three realms of earth, heaven, and the underworld, that is, with his total self.

He carved over the entrance gate the following inscription: 'Philemonis sacrum, Faustis poenitentia' meaning Philemon's sanctuary, Faust's atonement (Geigerich, 1984). An inscription over the threshold of one's home is like a motto under which one's entire life and thought are placed. By placing  his spiritual existence under a motto taken from the world of Goethe's Faust, Jung declares that what occurs there was personally significant for him.

Jung felt it was necessary to create a sanctuary for Philemon and a place of atonement for Faust. Bollingen could be this sanctuary, for it was the place whose specific purpose it was to give room to visitations. Jung writes: "At Bollingen I am in the midst of my true life. I am most deeply myself. Here I am, as it were, the "age old son of the mother". That is how alchemy puts it, very wisely, for the "old man," the "ancient," whom I had already experienced as a child, is personality number 2, who has always been and always will be....In my fantasies he took the form of Philemon, and he comes to life again at is a space for the spaceless kingdom of the world's and psyche's hinterland." (Jung, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, p. 214)

Bollingen was his place of silent solitude where he could receive the images, thoughts, and reveries, the waves of the lake, "the animals that come and go" and where he could house the ancestor spirits in hearth and cooking pot. Here pumping his own water, chopping wood, lighting the old fashioned lamps, cooking his own meals, Jung lived in the modesty and simplicity reminiscent of the old couple Philemon and Baucis.

During Jung's period of active imagination (define) in the years of 1913 and thereafter, there appeared to Jung a figure that Jung called Philemon. It's easy to see why Jung named this figure Philemon as it was Philemon who taught Jung that there are things in the soul that he does not make but that make themselves and have a life of their own, just like animals in the woods or people in a room or birds in the air. It was Philemon that taught Jung psychological objectivity, the 'reality of the psyche.' In other words it was Philemon that taught Jung that psyche and soul were real entities.

In this light, not only Bollingen provided sanctuary for Philemon in Jung's world but also his psychology. By naming the persons of the soul-such as, Anima, Old Wise Man, Great Mother, Philemon, Elias (Elijah), Salome-and by developing his archetypal theory and the idea of the reality of the psyche, Jung provided just this ontological (the philosophical study of the nature of being/existence) recognition of the objectivity of the diamones (spirits).

So it is in this spirit of hospitality toward the Gods that I begin this blog by being present to the moment and feeding it so that it will reveal the God(s) within and all that is hidden that wishes to be born into consciousness.

This blog is devoted to the birthing of the Soul. A symptom is a grave marker for the Soul to tell its story....more to be revealed...