Reflections from Bone:Dying into Life by Marion Woodman
“… archetypes as energy templates, seeds that are coded with potential energies, sacred geometry.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 34)
“…integration of consciousness and matter…” (Woodman, 2000, p. 35)
“In the move toward unity, we will move through continuous birth, death, rebirth patterns. All is energy in motion.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 35)
“… consciousness and matter each supporting the other in mutual ascent and descent toward unity.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 35)
“Until we are able to perceive through feminine eyes, to embody our femininity, we cannot hold the opposites without opposition. We cannot live the Oneness of the feminine.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 39)
“Our culture is schizophrenic, broken into autonomous parts.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 42)
In the passages I quoted above I see some of what I believe to be the core elements of Marion’s work. 1) working with archetypes 2) Integration of consciousness and matter. 3) All is energy and, 4) the holding the tension of the opposites
I had an interesting experience while reading this. It wasn’t actually a dream, but more of an image (or images) that appeared as I was in that liminal space between being a wake and falling asleep. Swirling in my mind was that I have been encountering the name “Jean” a lot in my life — starting with my own middle name which is Jean. Swirling images of all the people in my life whose name was Jean moved through my imaginal field in a sort of blurry, spiraling circle. I remember hearing myself say “Wow, there are a LOT of Jeans!” One of the Jeans swirling around me was the friend Jean that Marion quotes not only through out the book, but specifically in this section.
Suddenly, the swirling circle of Jeans began to slow and then the image came to me of my sitting up in bed and the figure of a person, a woman, begins to form sitting at the foot of my bed. Her body is positioned perpendicular to mine but she twists her torso until the upper part of her body is facing me. As she becomes clearer I recognize my Aunt Jean who had died in 2013 … of uterine cancer. All she had done in this appearance was to look at me and smile. In that simple smile I was reminded of her love for me and mine for her. I returned to a fully awakened state with soft tears in my eyes and took a deep breath.
In the schema I propose about the relationships between spirit, body, and soul it is the spirit that each of us embodies that is immortal and continues after the body dies. In my thinking spirit is, in its essence, energy. I have long had experiences of encountering people who have died and I what makes sense to me is that when our bodies die it is that aspect of ourself that is energetic, the spiritual aspect of our selves, that remains. In my experience, I have found that I can, at times, interact with people who have died when I encounter what Carl Jung termed the collective unconscious. Ways to engage with the collective unconscious include working with our dreams, lucid dreaming, Jungian active imagination, meditation, and the ecstatic state such as experienced in shamanic journeying.
We can look back to our classes in physical science to remember that energy can not be created or destroyed but only transformed. So, when our physical body dies the spiritual (energetic) aspect of who we are is released and remains in existence, but is no longer accessible by the senses of our physical bodies. I consider this to be an experience of the archetypal field. Archetypes were introduced to psychology by Carl Jung and are generally defined as universal patterns and images that are part of the collective unconscious. My understanding of archetypes is that phenomenologically they are the energy that results in the images that we hold as manifestations of a particular archetype. I can sum this up with the fact that I have always thought that Star Wars got it right with “The force be with you.”
Woodman, M. (2000). Bone: Dying into Life. Penguin Books.
*This reflection was first published, in part, in a Facebook Group entitled BodySoul Rhythms – Continuing the Legacy of Marion Woodman