His whole science, [Jung] explains, derived entirely from his visions and dreams. (79)
I have read and re-read many of Peter Kingsley’s books over the years, and his audio CD’s as well, so I was delighted to find him again speaking with Murray Stein on a video discussing C. G. Jung’s Red Book and Kingsley’s latest book Catafalque.I felt an immediate kinship with the subtitle. After all, my dissertation was about the phenomenon of the end of the world, for which my dreams were the primary “data”.But I did not know what a catafalque is so I looked it up to find that it is the “decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state.” Is C. G. Jung that distinguished person, I wondered, or humanity? Maybe C. G. Jung is a modern mouthpiece of humanity. I certainly believe so. I rushed to order the book and now have it—two volumes in which Kingsley wisely separates his literary voice, which as a mouthpiece of the goddess, carries Her wisdom and withering scorn for fools (i.e.all of us), from the scholarly references and endnotes that must come in the voice of the Academy, or tradition.
I am only two chapters in and already the urge to speak rises up. I know this urge. Kingsley’s voice has stirred my depths once again and, like him, I must obey. I was immediately gripped by his willingness to pay attention to his dreams in the spirit of She Who Must Be Obeyed.He had a dream in 2011 instructing him to cease “all the things I was doing: public speaking, teaching, meetings, interviews.”Shocking news from the “other side” to be sure. And what one DOES next is all-important, not what one thinks about. I was so moved to read that he acted in obedience. The story that followed his dream is instructive to us all especially those Jungians who insist, “No balanced person should ever obey messages or instructions given through a dream. Instead you have to argue with them, etc.”This dogma has a place to be sure for those who have not differentiated their personal self from the deeper reality that Kingsley knows. In that case you might be engaging a personal complex that is “speaking” to deprive you of any connection with life. But connection with the goddess restores our connection with life even though the descent into Her domain may be a little rough for our modern “alien” consciousness.
I once had a dream of humility. It invoked immediate obedience, in my waking life:
I am in a room with Chuck Norris. He decides to meet me in combat after a playful spar in which I block one or two strikes. I now need to prepare for the fight. As I do so, we are moving towards a secret monastery outside town. I wonder increasingly what it is I think I am doing. There is no way in the world I can fight Norris. People are gathering in the auditorium. I try to practice by doing basic katas from my own training years ago-woefully inadequate. Who am I kidding? They will see through me completely. What a sham. This is a mockery. I move towards a young boy. Now I am in a room. My bravado is useless. Any thought of I know what to do next slips away fast. In this room where I am in the centre and others line the walls, watching. A young man comes up to me and shows me a book—a red box with a red string running through it. This is his solution to the problem of cause and effect. “How long do you think I have been working on this problem? A good deal longer than you!” he says, faintly mocking. I do not have the faintest idea of what he is showing me. I feel humiliated, knowing nothing or near to it. The room erupts in chanting. More people go around the room, taking turn to chat about this or that existential problem. One man looking at me has tears of compassion for my plight. I am being submitted to a barrage of knowledge that I know nothing about. It is an ordeal. I do not know what to do next and I begin to weep. All my own ideas, plans, purpose, were washed away in my ordeal. The master is in the room too. I am left with no words. He gets up and moves away and I simply follow him. We enter ordinary reality, a house. He sits down and I come in. he says gently that I must not sit down, as we put on sandals. We are going to meet a great man who lives in ordinary life. My ordeal stripped me away from all pretensions, facades, knowing. The locus of knowing lies outside my ego in the other who really knows. I in turn follow the master.
What I have always valued in Kingsley’s works is his commitment to the Goddess and Her voice, speaking through him, a man of the 21st C. Her/his voice, dripping with scorn at times, excoriates us for forgetting Her and, at the same time, freely bestows her bounty on us. Can we even perceive this bounty today, as we near the end of humanity?
Kingsley’s literary style in all his books is an incantatory method of excoriation (stripping, flaying…) combined with rhythmic droning repetition. This magical methodology can steer us, if we dare to go, towards the mystical foundations of our Western civilisation. Catafalque is methodologically no different in this regard. With this rhetorical style and profound scholarship, Kingsley drives home how our privileging reason/rationality historically has in effect murdered those foundations.
Some time ago I wrote about a modern artist who dreamed of those mystical foundations and rendered her dream in an artwork. Here is my essay:
More to follow as I now continue reading (see post “Howl” )
See my essay, “Jung and the Posthuman” in: Jung’s Red Book for Our Time: Searching for Soul under Postmodern Conditions. Edited by Murray Stein & Thomas Arzt. Chiron Publications, 2017. https://www.academia.edu/35056270/Jung_and_the_Post-human_2017_