Friday, April 22, 2011


Spring has taken us by surprise. The weather outside is often damp and chilly, yet everything is blooming. Now that oil is becoming obscenely priced, I am looking forward to the days when I can turn off the heat and open the windows in the house.

This week I turned 39. I also had a tumor removed from my left breast. I have not called about the pathology, but it seems certain that the tumor was benign. As my sister noted, "If it wasn't, you definitely would have heard by now." Besides--the nurse that did the ultrasound, the doctor that stuck a wire through the tumor using ultrasound, and the nurse that did the subsequent mammogram all told me that they could see it was benign, so I am satisfied that it is. I will see the doctor next week.

Needless to say, this is why I've been quiet on the blogging front. I'd hoped to do more while I was home recovering, but I spent more time sleeping and reading. The surgery wasn't too painful (except when they did the mammogram while the wire was in my chest), but my body was traumatized nonetheless. Hence, the rest of me felt equally traumatized, and not with worry. The old cliche is that idle hands are the devil's workshop; in my case, you can replace "hands" with "brains". It's like getting fitted for new glasses; some things come sharply into focus, other things become blurry. Things that were uncertain before become even more uncertain, and somehow nothing is familiar anymore. You start to feel like you are shimmering and disappearing. All is forgotten, there are only the afterthoughts.

At such times, it is necessary to ground. When the brain starts acting like the air traffic controllers that are talking on their cell phones and watching movies instead of helping planes land, it's time to get practical and focused. The brain is a filter, designed to keep one from becoming overwhelmed. Sometimes it has to be beaten into shape. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

I was excited to learn that my nephew ordered these for my birthday. They are chocolate Cthulhus. They haven't come yet, and that's a good thing; I haven't decided whether I want to eat them or just admire them. My week has been rather Lovecraftian. I was reading Jung's writings on Paracelsus, the Renaissance physician and magician. His discussion of the filius regius somehow reminded me of the Cthulhu mythos, though I'm not sure that's entirely accurate; the filius regius is that "king" hiding in the depths, that which is worth risking destruction and chaos to bring to light. Lovecraft suggested the opposite--that we should seek the peace and safety of a dark age. Of course, Lovecraft lived in rapt terror of the unconscious, and was not interested in risking himself to confront it.

Paracelsus talks about the lumens naturae, which is the Divine Spark in humans. It is a light within the darkness, that actually self-illuminates the darkness. Jung suggests that we need to find the illumination in the darkness in order to have the sense of peace and security that comes from awareness. The trouble is that you have a lot of groping in the darkness before you find it, and you could lose your way. Hence the need to keep a foot in awareness. On the ground.

The Miskatonic Books blog noted a great find this week--a postcard found in some old Arkham House books written by H.P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith. The postcard is difficult to read in the scan on the blog, but I am told that Lovecraft appears to be speaking about Aleister Crowley, and refers to him as a "queer duck". Probably one of the nicer things he was called in his lifetime.

My sister has two pet ducks; one of them died suddenly on Monday. Another friend of mine lost her sister-in-law over the weekend, at the young age of 41. I learned today that two of my co-workers lost a parent and a grandparent respectively. Death knows no season; it is the only certain thing. April has been a death-month for many of my friends. It reminds me that things do not stay the same, and indeed they are not the same. Situations and circumstances also die. Then there is decay, followed by new birth. In between there is a void, an unknown. Here too, it is necessary for the living to ground.

Grounding should not be about wealth and worldly business. Grounding should be about connecting to nature. Jung talks about science and technology, and how our insistence on scientific method as the determiner of truth has had a negative impact on the psyche. It is necessary to remind ourselves that we are part of a larger system. And then to get out of our own way.

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