Imagination/Conscious Aging

Reflections from Bone:Dying into Life by Marion Woodman

Photo copyrighted by D. Bridge

Louisiana … is it a bayou or a swamp?

“Kill the imagination and you kill the soul. Kill the soul and you’re left with a listless, apathetic creature who can become hopeless or brutal or both.”(Woodman, 2000, p. 165)

“Thinking about passion and the dark feminine and how they are related to creativity and healing. This relationship is one of the biggest tasks of the Crone: holding the opposites in conscious aging — holding passion for life in balance with acquiescence in death, holding the spiritual womb always receptive to the creative spirit and choosing the new home is born of the new images.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 168)

“I had transcended everything, including the images that would’ve opened me to my divinity and my humanity.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 168)

My reflections: I was a high school teacher for more than 3 decades.  Towards the end of that career I began to realize that we, in education, did not teach imagination.  In fact there is no real place for imagination in our current educational system.  Most of the focus is on tests scores.  Most of the teaching is toward the tests that result in those scores.  It was toward the end of my teaching career that I began to understand the dearth of imagination in our schools.  I taught in a community of marginalized, impoverished, families where spending time in prison was actually a right of passage for the young men.  Without imagination, these young people did not have any way to consider that there was any other way for life to unfold.  This understanding of what we have lost in education by the loss of imagination was one aspect that led me to an early retirement from this career.  This statement of Marion’s resonates so deeply with me in regards to what happens to our youth when imagination is not nourished and nurtured and what happens when our youth become adults in our society without connection to soul.

In this section Marion speaks to two parts of my life … my earlier life as an educator and now my attention to those who are aging.  In the past decade I have worked with individuals as they have approached death and even beyond.  Marion’s words of conscious aging touch me deeply as I came to observe that waiting to deal with one’s death until it is imminent is to wait too long.  I absolutely love the words she uses here:  “holding passion for life in balance with acquiescence in death’.  This is work that must be done well before we face death if we are to approach our death from a place of wholeness.

I have to admit I do not quite understand what Marion means when she speaks of “transcending everything” … I wonder if she means she no longer needed to be in touch with her divinity and her humanity?  Is there some sort of transcendence that so marries the opposites that they no longer exist?  

Woodman, M. (2000). Bone: Dying into Life. Penguin Books.

**This reflection was first published in a Facebook Group entitled BodySoul Rhythms – Continuing the Legacy of Marion Woodman

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