Happy New Year, Spirit of the Depths

I woke this morning with a feeling of urgency. Some of this was inspired by an interview I saw last night on the news, with Zainab Salbi, the CEO of Women for Women International. As leader and creator of this organization, Ms. Salbi has spent years opening up opportunities for women in the most war-ravaged countries on the globe. Since my own trip to Africa in 2007, I joined her organization, and monthly send the most modest of checks to my “sister” in the Congo. To listen to Zainab speak is to feel inspired. She cited the three women who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, all activists in countries where the status of women has historically been as beast of burden. She spoke with optimism that women across the world can have a stronger and stronger voice in the peace process in the coming years.

Is it time for the archetypal Feminine to come out of hiding and make her mark on the world stage? Zainab Salbi would say a resounding “Yes!”

What does this mean for women and men on the ground, in our own communities, in our own embedded lives? I ask this to counter my own zeal to drop my “ordinary life” and take off for Africa, Nicaragua, or Egypt. This morning, I had to look at this eager-beaver part of myself with tolerance and good humor. I know I have worked hard to build a practice, family, a dear community of friends. And there is gentle inflation at work, in the notion that the people of these countries need someone of my age and culture, to “rescue” them.

What then can I do? What can all of us do, to promote the collaboration, peacemaking, and psychological wholeness needed to make a shift in the deeply entrenched “enemy-making” patterns that have caused war, violence, and oppression throughout the ages?

In searching for an answer, I reflected on last night’s dream, an image of a mythological spirit of the deep forest, emerging into sunlight, flanked by a banner of red and blue.

This figure was both masculine and feminine, and seemed to represent a fulfilled and complete soul. Alongside was a young woman in her forties, who stood by the banner, and was like a young warrior woman, dispelling any fear about the emergence of this whole soul. I felt that this was the Spirit of the Depths, so poetically articulated by Carl Jung in The Red Book. It is time for this archetypal spirit to come forth, to stand up to the Spirit of the Times.This will look different for each of us, as will its expression in the world. For some it could be a call to greater activism, as written of in Andrew Samuels’ The Political Psyche. For many, it could involve a conscious awareness of the barriers we unconsciously construct to avoid compassion. Being mindful whenever we feel too full of ourselves, too superior, or simply too busy to extend our love and help to those right under our noses: an aging Aunt, a neighbor, a coworker. Just asking ourselves (myself) – How can I bring peace, love, and reconciliation into every minute of my life? –

And, make friends with the spirit of the depths – the Archetypal Mother; the Amazon, who fights for justice in all things. She is with us, in all her manifestations, feminine and masculine, anima and animus, young and old.

Happy New Year, Spirit of the Depths. May we all befriend you, and let your wisdom and love shine forth, in 2012, and beyond.

Copyright January 1, 2012 by Elizabeth Clark-Stern

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