Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

The Symbolic Power of Home, Part 2: Where is Home?

June 10th, 2010 · Carl Jung, depth psychology, Halton Region, Home, inner life, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, Meaning, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychology and Suburban Life, Relationships, The Self, therapy, wholeness

In the first part of this series, I wrote about how the experience of connection to a specific place that is home can be powerful and profound. However, there are also many people for whom there is no connection to a sense of home.  And, for any of us, there can be many times–perhaps long periods–when we feel that we have lost anything that resembles that connection.

There are many real people for whom the experience of not having a place where they belong is overwhelmingly powerful and poignant.  We may not be that sort of person, may not feel that way.  And yet, very often, there is something in the experience of these people that can profoundly resonate with us.

OK, I admit it: I am really dating myself with the video below.  It’s from 1970, but, nonetheless, I’ve decided to include it, because I think that it represents a remarkable musical expression.  The group is Canned Heat, a blues-rock band from California, and the singer/blues harmonica/group leader is a young man named Alan Wilson.  In my opinion, Wilson’s singing here, in his inimitable blues manner profoundly touches on the experience of what it is to feel without a home.  By today’s standards, the video is very rudimentary, and the band seems far from polished in its stage presence.  However, as you watch and listen to Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson sing and play “blues harp”, it is hard to avoid the feeling that he is putting the whole of himself, the whole of the pain in his life, into those lyrics of endless wandering, “on the road again”.

“The first time I travelled on, in the rain and snow / I didn’t have no fare, not even no place to go…”

“My dear mother left me, when I was quite young / She said, Lord have mercy, on my wicked son…”

This is really an aspect of all of us.  It’s an archetypal theme.  Homer’s Ulysses on his seemingly endless 10 year struggle — and all he wants to do is get back home to Ithaca.  Aeneas, in Virgil’s Aeneid, sole Trojan survivor and refugee from the sack of Troy, for whom there is no home to which he can go back–he must just keep on moving, that’s all there is.

As good as the human experience of home may be, there are those voices that would remind us that the welcome is never quite complete and total enough.  In the words of the German writer and poet Hermann Hesse, “One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect the whole world looks like home for a time.”  But there is always a sense in which we are journeying onward.

The truth seems to be that our deepest yearning for home is something that cannot be fully met by an outer place, however wonderful. We may feel deeply connected to the place of our birth or family life, for instance, and yet something is missing, something for which we yearn.  This is because home, the real home we are seeking is something within ourselves and our own being.  Symbollically, it is the center of the mandala.  Home is connection with the centre of our own being; it is to be accepting of and at home with the deepest part of the self.  But to find that, we must undertake an inner journey.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you yearned for a feeling of security and rootedness?  Do you know what it is to be “on the road”?

Are there people who make you feel at home with their warmth and acceptance, as Hesse suggests?

Have you had the experience of feeling at home in yourself, of accepting who and what you are, and accepting your life?

I’d gratefully welcome your comments and reflections on the archetypes of home and homelessness.  What would it mean in your life in your life for you to truly “come home”?

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Teokcmy |Dreamstime.com

VIDEO CREDIT:

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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The Symbolic Power of Home, Part 1: Michaelle Jean

March 16th, 2010 · Home, symbolism

 

I think that many Canadians’ imagination and empathy has been caught by news stories of our Governor General, Michaelle Jean, who has been in the news here quite a bit this week.

 

Haiti for Vibrant Jung Thing

Her Excellency is herself a native of Haiti who came to Canada at age 11 in 1968.  In the last few days, she has returned to her homeland in the wake of the devastation, as an emissary of hope and solidarity.

Michaelle Jean has been both very strong, and also very apparently in grief over the loss of human life and destruction in her homeland of Haiti and her home town of Jacmel.  It is very clear how moved she has been, even shaken to the core.  Yet in the midst of that she has delivered a clear and unshaken message of hope for the future.  Clearly she is a very remarkable woman.

Her experiences should cause us to stop and reflect.  It is hard for those of us who have not been through such an experience to imagine what it would be like to see one’s home, the place from which one sprang, facing such devastation, to face the death of many whom one has loved, and to see the places of one’s youth endure such damage.

Horrific as these experiences are, they teach us an incredible amount about the psychological significance of home… to ourselves — and to every human.  It is the nature of human beings that we need a place to belong, a place that is fundamentally ours, where there are others to whom we are bound by ties that never break.  The very bond with the land where we come into being is a very powerful one.  The place that brings us to life marks us, shapes us, never truly lets us go.

Modern people tend to downplay the importance of place, and to feel that one country, one city, one house is interchangeable with another.  This is particularly so in suburban places, like Oakville, Burlington or Mississauga.  Here we often tend to think in terms of houses and the land they are located on as badges of particular social status or as arrangements of convenience, rather than as a fundamental reality that touches us in the deepest places in our being, in what we might very well call our soul.  But increasingly, environmental psychology is demonstrating to us the unshakeable importance of place.

This is a matter of particular psychological importance for nations like Canada, the United States and Australia, which are predominantly immigrant cultures, or particularly mobile.  The immigrant retains a psychological bond to the soil that brought him or her to life.  That bond is not easily broken, and may be a matter of great personal significance to the individual.  To come to terms with that bond, and to come to terms with the particular character of the new homeland may be a major piece of psychological work. 

For Jungians, there is another dimension, also, to the symbolism of home, and that is an archetypal dimension.  For the deepest and true home of all of us is the Self, the core of our being.  Ultimately, it is only by connecting with one’s true identity and the unique reality that each of us is, that we can really come to feel at home in the world, and in our lives.

 

I’d gratefully welcome comments and reflections on the archetype of home.  What does the symbol of “home” mean in your life?  Where is home for you, a place that you associate with your own fundamental identity? 

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Konstantin32 |Dreamstime.com

VIDEO CREDIT: © ‘A’ Morning Video, 2010 | //www.atc.ca/ottawa

© 2010 Brian Collinson

 

 

 

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