SEEING THRU ART
EMBODYING THE IMAGE OF THE SOUL
a JUNGIAN approach to imaginal research
BINDING ABOVE AND BELOW
THE RED BOOK
TRB describes a teaching found not in any book or mouth, but in the heart.
JUNG would dialogue with the images ...
to consciously understand
The opening of the third eye and the intuition is a fundamental part of and I imagine purpose of this archetypal art-based process.
~ Heather Taylor-Zimmerman
AN INTERPLAY — Words and Image
Just as Jung returned from TRB’s depths to continue his theoretical work, it is important to understand the movement between image and imagination as a practice and the theory they birth, while not falling prey to the lie of the word but reaffirming its living essence.
“You believe in the idol of words.” (Jung, 2009, p. 298)
The glossary bridges between the conscious and unconscious, theory and practice words and images, logos and mythos (specifically represented by Eros in TRB and in this website). In alternating the text and imagery, the hope is to induce a semi-lucid or conscious, hypnogogic state in which the visionary heart and art of the images can illuminate the words.
THE RED BOOK— A Teaching of the Heart
VISUAL LITERACY is about understanding what you see. This sight or insight is reflected in the root of idea “to see” and to see through an archetypal pattern, and it will be critical to this methodology. In effect, the viewing reader will be practicing this new (and yet old) way of seeing as imaginal knowing. This way of seeing or seeing through the image (whether a painting of a tree or a physical tree) allows you to enter the image through the imagination—like a window or even a doorway to the soul.
Even though this realm is imaginal, it is also real. Seen through the animated worldview of the soul and the embodiment of the soul in art, both a painting of a tree and a physical tree are real and alive or animated (from anima). This ensouled perspective is the heart of the art-based teaching, which Jung’s soul in TRB described a teaching found not in any book or the mouth of any teacher but in the heart.
AN ETHIC — Nothing is to be fixed or static
My experiences with the paintings were through me—I was literally entering into them as myself. This made them feel more personal and makes me more conscious of myself as a distinct person. As I communicated in the Conclusion, I grew to empathize with Jung about not finishing or publishing the material of TRB. Nowhere is this truer than when I confront the text. Compounded by the literal and erotic nature of my experience, my engagement with the visual imagery is uncomfortable. Like Jung being called by his soul to consume a girl’s liver, the experiences were often uncomfortable for me in the lived moment, but they are doubly (at least) uncomfortable when considering sharing the material publicly.
Immersed in the experiences, I really felt that I was in them and I actually identified as an explorer on behalf of collective humanity. Now I feel more like myself, an introvert who already has layers of wounding around difference and being “out on the bell curve,” as my husband is fond of saying. For these reasons, I have decided to give a short sample of the active imagination. Claiming as a prerogative to publish this material later if I choose. What I imagine is that I will bring the material to light on a case by case basis in teaching the methodology as examples. I do not feel called to refine or publish the textual work at this time. I actually feel that not publishing is an ethical safeguard for myself. Again, given the embodied and, at times, erotic nature of receiving and healing the mythic wounding of Eve, I am not even sure what is appropriate from a sharing perspective. So, I will remain cautious on this front.
While Jung elaborated and polished his writing through the Black Books and in the editing of TRB over sixteen years I have not done this work and do not feel called to. For me the textual element of the dissertation art is an elaboration of the visual images (which are an elaboration of the original visionary experience), and they will continue to shift and evolve over time. So far, my primary distinguishing characteristic and ethic regarding structure has been that nothing is to be fixed or static. All of the pieces are meant to move. From the three-ring binder that allowed me to engage repeatedly with the text and rearrange it, to the paintings that were not bound in a book, everything was designed to be in motion.
THE EMPRESS; We Begin
I have decided to begin in the beginning where people who are starting their own applications of the process will start. This place is the most distinct and static for me, and it is also a time that feels safer in terms of sharing content. In my process I would meditate in a set location to induce a vision, similar to Jung’s induction of hypnogogic vision with his patients. I would then go immediately and sketch out a composition that evolved what I thought of a visual thought or teaching. By this I mean that the vision was an experience with sensory data, but I also sensed that the vision had meaning behind or within it.
The following is my experience in engaging the painting—or it engaged me. Again, it is not refined into a work of art but can be seen as a rough and hasty sketch made during the experience in which I wrote as fast as I could to record the inner events. As a final preface to the detail of my experience, I ended up walking right out of the picture to the left without engaging any of the painted elements (including the empress). In this way it was like the painting was an initial threshold or portal to enter and move through. This experience happened a lot of times, and I moved through one painting into another at times—almost always through chthonic tunnels or caves.
I enter the image and go around back into the purple mountain and there is a tunnel entrance to a cave. I go in and there is a dripping sound and I follow it in relative darkness. I follow the sound to the back. It becomes quiet and I sense an echo in the expansive hollow of the space. The echo feels like the reverberation of time. As I go back I feel that I am walking backwards in time, but into greater light not darkness, into daylight—sunlight.
...This is good. I feel like crying and sleeping with my arms around the night, around the world. I take the gem from this incarnation like recovered treasurer. I have access to it and it is with me now. I/we are whole, holy. One. I am one. I am not woman and man, mother and father. Husband, brother, father, son. They are me—only then will we be set free.
"It is not to be thought; it is to be viewed. It is a painting." Jung of his soul