The Owl Was a Baker's Daughter: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Repressed Feminine (Inner City Books, 1980, ISBN 0919123414)
Ophelia is a little walking owl, bewitched by her unconscious feminine, her father, and what "they say." She never finds her own voice. She never finds her own body or her own feelings and therefore misses life and love in the here and now. Gradually the waters of the unconscious to which she is "native and indued" swallow her.
If in later life she has mastered her hunger drive by ego control, she may assume that she can control her fate herself. But that ego may in fact be very weak, because it has been built by cutting herself off from the mainstream of life through severe dieting. It is built on negative rather than positive need. In a real life crisis, such an ego may fail to operate because she does not know consciously what her own needs are. [...] An ego which sets itself up against Fate is attempting to usurp the power of the Self; it swings from light to dark, from inflation to depression. Only when her ego is firmly rooted in her own feminine feeling can a woman be released from her compulsive behavior.
Her [an anorexic's] natural bent is towards perfection, purification, aesthetics. Her ideal is to remove all the superficial veils until only essence is left.
The confusion of spirit and body is quite understandable in a culture where spirit is concretized in magnificent skyscrapers, where cathedrals have become museums for tourists, where woman-flesh-devil are associated, and nature is raped for any deplorable excuse. [...] Dieting with fierce will-power is the masculine route; dieting with love of her own nature is the feminine. Her only real hope is to care for her own body and experience it as the vessel through which her Self may be born.
Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride (Inner City Books, 1982, ISBN 0919123112)
Serious drinkers are like serious eaters or serious noneaters. They are like serious drug-addicts. Their addiction holds a spell over them which acts as some powerful secret at the center of everything they do. The serious eater listens to others talking of diets, Weight Watchers, exercises; she hears them excitedly comparing pounds lost, pounds gained. She hears them encouraging each other, joking, consoling. She is not one of them. She knows the diets better than they do; she knows Weight Watchers is useless for her; she knows her life is on some Almighty Scale that she has to step on alone. She is in some covenant with food — a covenant which she probably does not understand, but which nevertheless exerts some magical, compelling power over her. She hates it; she loves it; she keeps her covenant silent.
Their [those with eating disorders'] task is to rescue themselves from a drive that is destroying them. Food embodies the false values that their own bodies refuse to assimilate, by which I mean that their bodies become edemic, bloated, allergic, or resort to vomiting the poison out. The unconscious body, and certainly the conscious body, will not tolerate the negative mother.
We live in a predominately Christian culture which has lost its living connection to the symbolism of wafer and wine. Lacking spiritual sustenance there is a genuine hunger and thirst. The archetypal structure behind the wafer and wine is slowly giving way to a new configuration, but we are in chaos during the transition. That chaos breeds loneliness, fear and alienation. While that sense of aloneness is hard to endure, it can be of supreme value in the analytic process. The new life always comes out of the dispossessed, as Christ came from the cow stable.
Living by principles is not living your own life. It is easier to try to be better than you are than to be who you are. If you are trying to live by ideals, you are constantly plagued by a sense of unreality. Somewhere you think there must be some joy; it can't be all "must," "ought to," "have to." And when the crunch comes, you have to recognize the truth: you weren't there. Then the house of cards collapses.
For the first time in history, men and women are seriously exploring the possibilities of relationships based on separateness rather than togetherness. Instead of clinging to Yahweh, to a rigid set of laws established by a jealous Father-God who will rant in fury if he is disobeyed, they are simply ignoring that ranting, walking away from it, and attempting to put their trust in the irrational. In other words, they are trying to live by the spirit.
The Pregnant Virgin: A Process of Psychological Transformation (Inner City Books, 1985, ISBN 0919123414)
The whole, however, had become more than the sum of its parts. The parts concentrate on the periods in the chrysalis when life as we have known it is over. No longer who we were, we know not who we may become. We experience ourselves as living mush, fearful of the journey down the birth canal. The whole has to do with the process of psychological pregnancy—the virgin forever a virgin, forever pregnant, forever open to possibilities.
Introduction, p. 7
The puella mother who has never taken up residence in her own body, and therefore fears her own chthonic nature, is not going to experience pregnancy as a quiet meditation with her unborn child, nor birth as a joyful bonding experience. Although she may go through the motions of natural childbirth, the psyche/soma split in her is so deep that physical bonding between her and her baby daughter does not take place. Her child lives with a profound sense of despair, a despair which becomes conscious if in later years she does active imagination with her body and releases waves of grief and terror that resonate with the initial, primal rejection. [...] The body that appears in dreams wrapped in fire, encircled by a black snake or encumbered by a fish tail from the waist down, may be holding a death-wish too deep for tears.
Body work must be approached with the same respect and attentiveness that one gives to dreams. The body has a wisdom of its own. However slowly and circuitously that wisdom manifests, once it is experienced it is a foundation, a basis of knowing that gives confidence and total support to the ego. To reach its wisdom requires absolute concentration: dropping the mind into the body, breathing into whatever is ready to be released, and allowing the process of expression until the negative, dammed energy is out, making room for the positive energy, genuine Light, to flood in.
For years they have known they are in the presence of something stronger than they—a mystery that renders them powerless. Already constellated is a "god consciousness"—awesome and holy—that has nothing to do with the church or with groups. They know they have to engage in a different arena of reality. That arena is the psyche. By virtue of their temperament, training, consciousness, these women are blessed (or cursed) with an introspective nature, an exploring mind, an invincible curiosity about themselves which connects them to their own inner microscope. For better or for worse, they are convinced that the solution to their lives is in submission not to an externally imposed authority which they cannot understand, but to a truth that abides in themselves.
In a culture whose media extols thinness as the great panacea that will bring happiness, sexuality, self-respect and social acceptance, they are blind to the insidious lies of the false goddess. Possessed by their own damaged instincts, and ironically driven by the same desire for power that their parents used in raising them, some children wolf down food, or reject it, or vomit it out. Whether that rejection of life is concretized in 200 pounds of armor, or 90 pounds of bone, or vomit in the toilet, the surest way out of the neurosis is to try to understand what food symbolizes in the individual psyche and why the energy is pulled in that direction.
Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness, co-authored with Elinor Dickson (Shambhala, 1997, ISBN 1-57062-313-9)
Although the patriarchal ego prides itself on being reasonable, the twentieth century has been anything but the Age of Reason. In our collective neurosis, we have raped the earth, disrupted the delicate balance of nature, and created phallic missiles of mass destruction.
She faces us with our greatest fear and by showing us the treasure hidden away within it, she takes us to a place where love is born. Love is the true antithesis of fear. It expands where fear constricts. It embraces where fear repels.
On the Dark Goddess, p. 45
Metaphorically, the body becomes a machine to be driven or a garbage dump to be avoided. At the same time, the magnificent Mother in whose womb we live is mindlessly poisoned and raped. Surely, our insane denial has to be perceived and acted upon.
In the Seventies, people discussed the first two paradigms and tried to imagine what the next one would be like. Generally, they agreed that the new paradigm would be neither matriarchal nor patriarchal; it would be androgynous. Rather than tribal or hierachial, the structures of such a society would be ecological.
This is the point where love becomes possible. We see the other with the eye of the heart, an eye not clouded by fear manifesting as need, jealousy, possessiveness, or manipulation. With the unclouded eye of the heart, we can see the other as other. We can rejoice in the other, challenge the other, and embrace the other without losing our own center or taking anything away from the other. We are always other to each other — soul meeting soul, the body awakened with joy. To love unconditionally requires no contracts, bargains, or agreements. Love exists in the moment-to-moment flux of life.
"What's this Chungian analyst?" he asked.
"Five years' training in Zurich at the C. G. Jung Institute," I said. "Jung was a student of Freud until they quarreled."
"Oh, yes," he said. "Dreams and all that kind of thing."
I felt his dismissal; I made no response.
Dark underbelly to all of this. Sarajevo, where the [Olympic] Games were held in '84, is under threat. The UN and NATO have ordered the Serbs to have their big guns off the surrounding hills by midnight, February 20. All the love that is being manifested in these Games was once manifested in Sarajevo. The cameras pan across the great stadium — bombed out, an empty shell. [...] Ten years ago, all that glory gleamed in the center of what is now a cemetery for the dead killed in a ferocious attack. What sense does it make?
Unable to do anything for a month after the ordeal. No more cancer. No more radiation. My doctor pronounced me clear on March 29. Felt the crucifixion this year, and the tomb, and Easter Sunday. Still not sure who has emerged.
Dismissing poetry is dismissing the glory of the imagination. Teaching English to adolescents for twenty years gives me the authority to say, "Kill the imagination and you kill the soul. Kill the soul and you're left with a listless, apathetic creature who can become hopeless or brutal or both. Kill the metaphor and you kill desire; the image magnetizes the movement of the energy." I will make this clear as I speak. The tax money that is being withdrawn from arts programs in schools will be spent on prisons.
Thank you, dear Sophia. From every cell in my broken body, my radiant body, I thank you. I am alive. I am free... to live... to die.