I was always an empath and (growing up in the 50s) responded to the collective psychosis of the Cold War years by weathering horrendous hallucinogenic nightmares, like a leaf on a stormy sea - whenever I was ill, which was frequently because we played in a stream of untreated sewage, south of the University of Conn. But when not ill, I experienced a merging with the natural world, thanks to my mother, who pretty much raised me, while my (brilliant but repressed) father raised my (older) brother, Dave.
I turned my father on to Jung in 1974, a few years after his early retirement from UConn. He became a certified Jungian and was a practicing analyst for 30 years until a few years before his death.
I want to share some threads of my biography:
#1 I only started being able to navigate my psychic landscape when I grew into my poetic shoes. . .I say shoes because initially I swallowed poets like TS Eliot, Yeats and Rilke whole, around the age of 17 (as well as the French Surrealists and the imagists). Almost overnight I started writing original poetry, copping their language (wearing their shoes). I assimilated them. These worthies opened me to the power of metaphor. It was as if I was channeling. I was writing precociously about archetypal worlds; mythic, epic scenarios played before my visionary eye and flowed forth. The archetypes began healing me long before I knew what archetypes were.
From then on poetry went ahead of me, clearing my way into the world. Poetry was in my DNA.
#2 I became passionate about Jungian Psychology as an undergrad at Hampshire in '73 (first graduating class). Within about 5 years I had read and comprehended everything he wrote (his Collected Works) and was deep into analysis and shadow work (at 22) and my journey of individuation, making up for lost time.
#3 Thanks to my mother, I was always drawn to Native American spiritual practices, identifying with their close relationship to the ancestors, nature and the land. For example: It was easy for me to study geography in highschool while secretly embracing the idea that we are living on the back of a giant turtle. When I graduated from highschool with my low lottery number I applied for a conscientious objector draft deferment and traveled to the Navaho Reservation where I tutored Indians and wrote my manifesto, age 19.
#4 I lived in the streets in Santa Cruz, age 28, partly because I already felt homeless in my native land. Being literally homeless was my way of seeking balance and buying / stretching time. Living outside, one is off the clock.
#5 In 1981 - 82 I self-published a book of poetry that was somewhat prophetic titled "The Blue Man". This was way before the all-male pop-group of the same name, popularized that tag. You probably aren't aware that Black Elk, in his 9-year-old world vision, did battle with the spirit of the Blue Man, a powerful spectral-archetype that has popped up periodically in visionary history and mythologies of both Eastern and Western cultures through the ages. As an archetype, it means slightly different things Age-to-Age. I was not aware of this when I wrote The Blue Man. It was simply an archetypal spirit that was haunting me in dreams and in waking visions - a worthy nemesis. In writing this book (these poems, age 29-30), I was, in a sense, taking on this archetypal spirit, via my poetic-persona. I had to, or I would have suffered a break-down.
The Blue Man for Black Elk was a spirit-manifestation of devastating drought. In my case it represented the extractive, rapacious, world-polluting, militaristic, Earth-exploiting, self-aggrandizing, soulless, insidiously rising surveillance state that was ascending in the guise of figure-heads like Reagan who served as the fathers of a new fully weaponized brand of capitalism that was granting itself a free pass to dominate the globe.
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