Tag Archives: Psychology

Names of the Wind — Nick Hunt

 

ELSEWHERE – A JOURNAL OF PLACE recently featured a piece by Nick Hunt who’s book “Where the Wild Winds Are” (Nicholas Brealey Publishing) was published in September 2017.

 

PHOTO: THE BORA IN FULL SPATE ON THE SLOPES OF MOUNT MOSOR, NEAR SPLIT, CROATIA, BY NICK HUNT

 

Nick “set out to follow four, which seemed an appropriate number for winds, drawn by the romance of their names but also intrigued by their effects; Europe’s great aeolian forces are said to influence everything from architecture to mythology to psychology.”

It’s fascinating to discover just how much mythology and folklore is attached to the wind, and how Nick found some of these stories to contain truth, and was a witness to their effects.

The Helm – Britain’s only named wind – blows down the western slopes of Cross Fell, the highest point of the Pennines, with enough force to destroy stone barns in the nearby Eden Valley. According to local legend the summit was formerly known as Fiends Fell, until the air-dwelling demons – whose howling caused such terror in the parishes below – were exorcised by a wandering holy man.

The Helm itself takes its name from a long white cloud called the Helm Bar (a helmet for the mountain’s head) which acts as a harbinger of this freezing north-easterly. I camped for four days and nights up there, scanning the desolate moorland and waiting for the cloud to form; when it did, the demons returned to haunt me with a vengeance.

My second wind was the Bora, which led me down the Adriatic coast from Trieste in north-east Italy through Slovenia and Croatia. Fierce enough to sink ships and hurl fish from the sea, the Bora is also credited with helping defeat the last major pagan army to oppose the Christianisation of Rome – turning the arrows of the troops back towards them in the air – despite the fact that it takes its name from the pagan god Boreas, ancient Greek avatar of the cold north wind.

It is celebrated for bringing good health, in stark opposition to the southerly Jugo, which muddies the sky with a yellow haze (taking its name from the Slavic word for ‘south’, this is the local variant of the many-named Sirocco, whose other appellations include the Khamsin, the Ghibli, the Sharav, the Marin, the Leveche and the Xaloc).

During my three-week walk I found myself in a tug-of-war between Jugo and Bora, north and south, clear skies and humid haze. At last I met my quarry on a snow-covered mountainside above the Croatian city of Split; appropriately enough for a god, Boreas froze the blood in my veins and knocked me off my feet.

The etymology of the Foehn, which I chased across the Swiss Alps, perhaps also stems from the divine – it may derive from Favonius, the Roman god of the west wind – but locally it has earthier names: Schneefresser, ‘Snow-eater’, Maisvergolder, ‘Corn-goldener’, and Traubenkocher, ‘Grape-cooker’, in tribute to its warming effects. Associated with clear skies, sunshine and the coming of spring, it is also blamed for causing headaches, nosebleeds, insomnia, anxiety, depression and a host of other ailments; antique maps depict the Foehn as a puff-cheeked face blowing out not air, but showers of human skulls.

I tracked this ill-omened force for a fortnight from one deep valley to another, acting on meteorological tip-offs and snatches of local lore, until eventually catching it in the heart of Haslital. After experiencing three days of relentless roaring heat – incongrously thundering from snow-capped summits and glaciers – I woke one morning so depressed that I could hardly move. It felt as if everything in my life had gone disastrously wrong, and it took me most of the day to understand the cause and effect. The legends and old wives’ tales were true: I had fallen victim to Föhnkrankheit, the notorious Foehn-sickness. As soon as I escaped that valley, the symptoms disappeared.

My final wind was perhaps the best-known, being something of a household name far beyond its native range: the bitter breath of the Mistral, which blows, according to superstition, for three, five, seven or nine days southwards down the Rhone Valley from Valence to the Gulf of Lion. Its name comes from the Latin magistralis, which means ‘masterly’, and it certainly dominates the land; the farmhouses in its path are built with windowless north-facing walls to protect against its blast, and lines of closely-packed cypress trees are planted as living windbreaks from east to west.

Like the Bora and the Foehn, the Mistral makes a clean sweep of the sky and helps create the vibrant light that has attracted generations of painters to the south of France. But there is a price to beauty; this ‘wind of madness’ is notorious for driving people crazy. Vincent Van Gogh, who lived in its path for two years in the town of Arles – during which time he cut off his ear and committed himself to the local asylum – referred to it in his letters as ‘a nagging malice’, ‘pestering’, ‘merciless’ and ‘the devil’, even as the conditions it brought inspired some of his greatest works.

I followed its trail for ten days down an ancient pilgrims’ path on the western bank of the Rhone, ending my travels on the Plain of Crau, a little-known and desolate region classified as western Europe’s only steppe. Two thousand years ago the geographer Strabo travelled there, describing ‘an impetuous and terrible wind which displaces rocks, hurls men from their chariots, breaks their limbs and strips them of their clothes.

Source: Names of the Wind — Elsewhere: A Journal of Place

Nick’s website can be found here

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Working through Depression with Alchemy

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“More than a school of thought, alchemy is a gnosis, a “way” of knowing. It is a deliberate attempt to grasp immortality in which the process is paramount. We all embody the archetypal journey of life, consciously or unconsciously. We are born in our essential nature but it quickly becomes covered with a hard-shelled core of the false ego. We long to return to our true nature. Alchemy amplifies and accelerates this process of self-actualization, connecting with a sacred sense of self.

Naturally, there is no absolute actualization, no final self-reflective insight. It is a recursive formula of returning, over and over on more subtle levels, to the sacred center where heaven and earth meet. You don’t have to heroically “succeed” at alchemy.

Not succeeding will deepen you as you improvise the narrative that is your life up to that point. How many times do we make, then lose the Stone? How many times do we lose our hard-won happiness or wholeness? The trick is to not paralyze yourself with New Age guilt over it. If a scientist has a failed experiment he or she doesn’t wallow in shame or analysis paralysis but starts over with new boundary conditions.

First, you must separate yourself from the herd mentality. When your comfort zone becomes constrictive, you have grown beyond it. Still, only a few adventurous souls will move beyond the cocoon of their self-imposed prison. If you suppress yourself too much, you become a stranger to yourself. Alienation is felt as chronic depression.

You have to change your level of game play, change your reality map. You die to one level to be reborn at a higher level. Dis-identify from the social hologram, dis-identify from rigid roles and soul-diminishing victimization to become open. To step up your game, you have to reconnect with your core, your deep presence and awareness. Reality speaks for itself if we listen closely enough to nature and our nature. But you have to retrain your eyes, ears, and heart to comprehend the intuitive language of alchemy.”

“The spiritual landscape is changing and alchemy offers a safe harbor for the drifting spirit beyond institutional or cult affiliation. Many paths are vying for participants but alchemy chooses you. It is a self-initiatory path that provides a structure or scaffolding for metaphorical death and rebirth, a generic process described in many traditions. But you must remain dedicated to the process.In exploring the unknown you are exploring yourself. The journey to wholeness often begins with a retreat – into oneself, your interior nature.”

From: Working through Depression with Alchemy http://ionamiller.weebly.com/nigredo-depression.html

Zen Master Alan Watts Explains What Made Carl Jung Such an Influential Thinker: Open Culture

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“There is a nice German word, hintergedanken, which means a thought in the very far far back of your mind,” says Watts.

“Jung had a hintergedanken in the back of his mind that showed in the twinkle in his eye. It showed that he knew and recognized what I sometimes call the element of irreducible rascality in himself. And he knew it so strongly and so clearly, and in a way so lovingly, that he would not condemn the same thing in others, and would therefore not be led into those thoughts, feelings, and acts of violence towards others which are always characteristic of the people who project the devil in themselves upon the outside, upon somebody else, upon the scapegoat.”

And so, whether we enter into this field of thought through Watts, through Jung, or through anyone else, it always seems to comes back to the ancient Greeks: “Know thyself.”

Source: Zen Master Alan Watts Explains What Made Carl Jung Such an Influential Thinker Open Culture

The Opposite of Love Is Power… Not Hatred – C.G. Jung | Dr. Peter Milhado

By Peter Milhado PHD on March 9, 2014

 

There are two kinds of suffering.  Suffering imposed on us by the outside and suffering created by ourselves.  All we can do with suffering imposed by the outside is share it in the human family and show compassion, love and empathy for those who’ve been hurt.  Suffering created by ourselves is referred to as neurotic suffering i.e. ‘inauthentic suffering’.  At bottom, neurosis is a moral and ethical problem.

In other words symptoms like neurotic anxiety, depression, compulsions, ulcers, headaches etc. occur primarily because we try to manipulate others.

We do this in a variety of ways…i.e. blaming, withholding feelings and affection, using guilt to have others do our bidding, temper tantrums and primarily abusing power.  The opposite of love is power, not hatred.

[ … ]A calling may be postponed, avoided, or intermittently missed. It may also possess one completely. Eventually it wins out and makes its claim either in a soulful life, or if ignored, in meaninglessness, cynicism, hoarding, loneliness and alienation.

The dragon we must slay is no more that the monster of everyday expectations about how we “ought” to live our lives. If we realize this, we will be back in the world, but “no longer of it”. We will be able to interact with others without submitting to their definition of who we are supposed to be! This precious pearl that is one’s individual worth can only be found when we are willing to stand alone. By consciously choosing to pursue the inner journey, we transform impersonal fate into our own personal destiny.

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via The Opposite of Love Is Power… Not Hatred – C.G. Jung | Dr. Peter Milhado.

“”The ancestors. They are in our bones. Remember.”

“When societies lose their initiation practices, new ones emerge, for rites of passage are hardwired in the human psychological formula.”

“The classic tarot deck is a great representation of this, as it parallels the esoteric Jewish Kabbalah, in symbolically showing us the four levels of magickal morphogenesis through the suits of the wands, cups, swords, and disks. An idea begins in the archetypal ethers, funnels into the realm of dreams, visions, and emotions, moves down into the realm of thought and mental activity, and then finally becomes manifest reality.  Initiation, because it is such a psychically impactful experience, can affect all four realities at once in impressive and synchronistic ways, leading to a revived belief in apophenia. [the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.] Again, initiatory experience is about reconnecting the separated aspects of the psyche. Ideas, emotions, thoughts, and physical things may quickly shift, as the psyche attains a new level of integration.”

via 21st Century Guide to Cross Cultural Initiation | Reality Sandwich.

Separating ourself from ourself | Jim Robinson

“…our first steps towards freedom require us to “remember ourselves” and in doing so “separate ourselves from ourselves”. As I understand it, this means in my psychological language to dis-identify with the reactive places we are caught in. In other words to make an object of the part of that is caught into whatever reaction is happening now. This is also what Robert Keegan’s 1994 “Subject / Object Theory” is all about, making objective, i.e. clear to ourselves, what we are identified with, bringing our unaware ground into consciousness so that we can relate to it, so that we can develop our awareness around it and start to understand it. So that we can start to look after ourselves in a new way.This is what therapy is all about, facilitating this movement of separating ourselves from ourselves in order to develop our awareness and understanding around that part of ourselves. This in the service of healing the unfinished trauma in its widest sense that we hold from our pasts and which unconsciously drives our compulsive reactive identifications. Just making this step into seeing that we are caught and that this is not the whole of ourselves, is such a profound and powerful one. ‘Remembering’ ourselves, i.e. connecting our split self back together again, opens the door to not only self-knowledge and understanding, but also to all the possibilities we have of being.Held trauma inevitably splits the heart and mind and body, and it is re-connecting these aspects of our whole together again that facilitates “self-remembering”. Or is it ‘remembering ourselves’ that enables them to re-connect? I’m not sure which way round it is, maybe both work simultaneously, or maybe we can get there from using either our ‘intention’ or ‘attention’.

via Separating ourself from ourself | Jim Robinson.

Benjamin Betts – Geometrical Psychology

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“Benjamin Betts’ Geometrical Psychology from 1887 contains a sequence of delicately toned geometric figures intended to represent no less than ‘the evolution of human consciousness from the animal, zero, or starting point, through to the culmination of human possibilities – the transcendental’. Originally educated as an architect, Betts resolved to end his career determined to visualise the internal through his idiosyncratic topological models.” http://www.dataisnature.com/?p=1693

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Geometrical Psychology

Geometrical psychology, or, The science of representation: an abstract of the theories and diagrams of B. W. Betts details Benjamin Bett’s remarkable attempts to mathematically model human consciousness through geometric forms. From the Introduction:

The symbolic forms which Mr. Betts has evolved through his system of Representation resemble, when developed in two dimensions, conventionalised but very scientifically and beautifully conventionalised leaf-outlines. When in more than two dimensions they approximate to the forms of flowers and crystals. …. The fact that he has accidentally portrayed plant-forms when he was studying human evolution is an assurance to Mr. Betts of the fitness of the symbols he has developed, as it affords presumptive evidence that the laws he is studying intuitively admit of universal application.”

Alchemical Psychology – Old Recipes for Living in a New World

“An alchemist is seen in physical form below this magnificent scene wearing a coat of stars, white one side and dark on the other. He stands in a grove of trees, each of which bears a symbol of the planetary metals and twelve fundamental substances. The alchemist holds a twin-bladed axe in either hand reinforcing the division of opposites in the manifest world. Yet he stands upon the backs of two lions sharing one head. This indicates his powers of discrimination and freedom from the opposites.”

Open Culture – 500 Free University Courses, including Psychology

Open Culture are providing free Psychology courses from the world’s leading universities. You can download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player. For more online courses, visit their complete collection of Free Courses.

http://www.openculture.com/psychology_free_courses

Open Culture are providing free online courses from the world’s leading universities. This collection includes over 500 free courses in the liberal arts and sciences. Download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player.

http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses

They are one of my favourite sites on the web and also offer a lot more – interviews, films, and so many other wonderful links such as this 1993 film http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/darwin_a_1993_film_by_peter_greenaway.html

An interesting paper on Brainwashing

“The word “brain-washing”, translated from Chinese communist jargon, is a
very strong metaphor, first popularized by Robert Jay Lifto n. It vividly
describes one person interfering with the personality make-up of another,
removing the other’s ideology and replacing it, and similarly tampering with
the other’s tastes, pool of information to rely upon and whatever else goes
into the make-up of the other’s personality. Clearly, in some sense or another
everyone interferes with the personality of people with whom they interact;
yet what is meant here is something much more drastic than friends
influencing one another’s tastes or opinions; it is something more dramatic
and more large scale.”

[…]

“Some people, in Plato’s
lifetime and in the modern world, view Socrates as a sly master of the art of
persuasion, as one adept in the art of stealing into people’s minds to influence
them with sophistry. Be that so; nevertheless, sophistry, even the most
objectionable kind, is not the same as brainwashing.
The same can be said of indoctrination. Good or bad, indoctrination is not
brainwashing. Perhaps re-indoctrination is–the taking away of one
indoctrination and the replacement of it with another. But this should be
examined in technical detail: what is the difference between the two? Why is
the latter so much more objectionable than the former?
One way to re-indoctrinate is through excessive and ceaseless propaganda.
This technique may work, since in time lies constantly presented as true may
penetrate great resistance. Anyway, this is also not the sort of thing that was
labeled brainwashing. No one ever denied that violence can crush people’s
intellectual independence. The best example that comes to mind here is the
Nazi propaganda theory. In it, as in George Orwell’s fables, Animal Farm and
1984, use is made of terror, lies, concealment, psychological pressure–and
these are well-known techniques. These are not the same kind of subtle
manipulations as those known as brainwashing.”

Full pdf article:

http://www.tau.ac.il/~agass/joseph-papers/brain.pdf