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Sunday, February 14, 2016

"I realized how failure to be true to myself resulted in being false to others” Marion Woodman




Foreword by Marion Woodman

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run. ~John Keats, "To Autumn."

This ode by Keats echoed through my thoughts like an old friend as I walked for the first time to the C.G. Jung Institute
on Gemeindestrasse in Zurich.

It was the fall of 1974. I had landed at the airport at 8 a.m. and was stunned by jet lag.

Further stunned by being addressed in German, I managed to register at the front desk and then sought refuge in the
library.

"What madness possessed me to come here?" I asked myself.

Then a book with a bright yellow jacket almost leaped off the bookshelf. It was Striving Toward Wholeness by Barbara Hannah.

I suddenly realized it was about the Brontës, and about their problems as P.K.'s (Preacher's Kids).

Within half an hour, I knew that the author of that book was the right analyst for me.

When I asked for Miss Hannah's phone number, I was assured that she was a very old lady, certainly not taking any new analysands.

So I wrote her a note thanking her for the unique insights her book had opened to me.

The next afternoon the phone rang.

It was Miss Hannah inviting me to tea.

Over our cups she said: "You are a parson's daughter; I am a parson's daughter.

When I came to Zurich, Jung told me that only a parson's child could handle a parson's child."

And so, with eighty-one years of experience attempting to integrate the intensity of the opposites in a child of the manse, she took me on.

For me, one session highlights the essence of our work together.

Fiercely independent and well aware of the conflicts that analysis would entail, I was financing myself in Zurich with my own money saved over a twenty-five year teaching career.

I was left somewhat stranded when the dollar dropped in ratio to the Swiss franc, and I found myself needing money for values that were of utmost importance to me, but values of which I knew my husband would not approve.

Since he was my sole other financial resource, I was in an intolerable conflict.

In an analytic session, I said, "My husband wouldn't give me money for that purpose."

"Then lie to him," Miss Hannah said.

"But, Miss Hannah," I said, aghast at her response, "that would not be honest."

"My dear," she said, looking me straight in the eye, "we're not talking about honesty, we're talking about getting along with men."

The words resonated in my being as the right words spoken in the right moment always do.

I knew the words were coming from the Self.

I knew they had nothing to do with taking revenge on men, nothing to do with manipulating men for my own insidious purposes.

Exactly what they did mean, I did not know, but they rang true.

As I left Lindenbergstrasse 15, where Miss Hannah lived and practiced (in the same house as Marie-Louise von Franz), consciousness began to dawn.

Someone was going to be betrayed in the situation, either my husband who had no way of comprehending the feeling values involved, or myself who had pondered their worth for weeks.

What was of utmost value to me as a woman would, I thought, seem foolish, hair-brained, stupid to him. I began thinking back through my life to the countess times I had betrayed my own feeling values and accepted some man's logical, rational decision that left me saying, "Yes, it is for the best," while at the same time feeling dead inside.

Remembering the many times I had withdrawn from a fight, gone ahead and done what I wanted to do alone, leaving the man to do what he wanted to do alone, I realized how the betrayal of my own feeling betrayed his as well.

I realized how failure to be true to myself resulted in being false to others.

That night I wrote a detailed, honest letter to my husband. He replied with feeling and with money.

That immediacy, that presence, that feminine capacity to live the moment as it presents itself, is my most precious gift from Miss Hannah.

Her own trust in the Self made that gift possible.

Knowing her in the autumn of her life, I saw the full flowering of her sense of humor, her forthrightness and her love.

Never sentimental about herself or others, she constantly dealt with the opposites within the Self with unflinching courage.

She knew when to use her masculine side to discern what was irrelevant and what was essential, and when to rely on her feminine side to receive what the Self was ready to give.

Her surrender to the Self sustained her immense energy, physically and spiritually.

Miss Hannah was my living example of one who lives forever true to the process, holding farm to the opposites until the transcendent emerges.

And while I have seen her faith stumble in the fires of adversity, I have also seen her steady herself and stand firm in the flamesburning until the dross was burned to silver and gold.

Her commitment, which was at the same time her detachment, made me understand the love that Wordsworth writes about, a love that makes

. . . a thing endurable, which else
Would overset the brain, or break the heart. ~Marion Woodman, Foreword to “The Inner Journey” by Barbara Hannah, Pages 8-9


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