Parents in the Magical Other

Our first experience of ourselves is in relationship to these Primal Others, usually mother or father. Consciousness itself arises out of that splitting of the primal participation mystique which characterizes the infant’s sensibility. The paradigms for self, for Other, and the transactions between, are formed from these earliest experiences.

Parents in the Magical Other

While in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, I happened to go walking down a narrow trail passed a number of small country homes and tiny fields.  The scene was distant from any city and a few kilometres from a small town.  As I wandered down the trail I met a few people such as these two women who were busy with the collection of banana leaves which were to be used as food wrap as well as serving platters for meals that were predominantly based on rice which was being grown not too far from this site.  The young woman seemed pleased to see me here in the Mekong jungle and even more pleased that I wanted to take her photo.  In my imagination, I could almost see her reaching out with her eyes as though to wish me to her, to be a magical other – of course, only in my imagination.  The real smile she gave has nothing to do with the magical other.  I wonder at how Asians view the idea of a “Magical Other.”

The fantasy of the magical other finds its roots in archetype, the archetype of the parent, a Primal Other.  Here are a few words from James Hollis to illustrate this idea:

“Our first experience of ourselves is in relationship to these Primal Others, usually mother or father.  Consciousness itself arises out of that splitting of the primal participation mystique which characterizes the infant’s sensibility.  The paradigms for self, for Other, and the transactions between, are formed from these earliest experiences.  They are hard-wired into our neurological and emotional networks.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 37)

Somehow, this seems to be something very important in trying to understand the idea of Magical Other, a soulmate, or love at first sight.  Perhaps it is at this moment one is wired to being attracted to one gender or another.  One searches for the safe container in which to find the courage to be self.  Many, if not most “marriages” are born of the attraction to the Magical Other.

The stranger with whom one falls in love has power and a numinosity that is in reality too much for a human person to contain.  As time passes and the bumps and bruises of relationship teach us the mortal nature of this human, we feel loss and sadness.  The grieving over the loss of the Magical Other takes one through anger and the other stages of grief until we come to accept the real person with whom we have coupled, that is if one persists long enough to go through the stages.  Many cannot get passed the anger and turn away from this stranger who has betrayed us, lied to us.  Too late we come to realise that it is we who have lied to ourselves.

For those that survive the grieving, there is a comfort and a discomfort with what remains.  We are comforted that the other, not so magical anymore, has taken on our need for sanctuary and willingly works at meeting the needs for love, security, acceptance.  Each becomes lover, friend, child and parent to the other.  Listen to the words and you will perhaps hear from those long married, the words Ma, Pa, Mother, Father, Mom, Dad – I hear myself addressed with different tones and different words, including Papa.  Again, James Hollis has words for us:

“Such phenomena suggest that the original attraction to the partner was in great part guided by the parental imago.  That unconscious image is projected onto potential partners until someone comes along who can catch it and hold it.” (ibid)

I wonder if this parental imago is not simply the replacement of one’s biological parent, but potentially the missing parent whether that absent mother or father was physically absent or emotionally absent?  I must remember that is more than the personal parent, but the archetypal parent that is being sought in the Magical Other.

Robert G. Longpré is well known among people interested in Jungian Psychology because of his excellent site, Through a Jungian Lens, parts of which are reproduced here by permission.  He says the following about himself:

"I am wearing a backpack in the photo because that is often how anyone would see me at this point in my life.  I am on a journey of soul, a journey in search of meaning and in search of self.  I am a retired school teacher and school administrator having taught in various schools in Saskatchewan, Canada.  I was a principal for a number of years as well.  Intermingled with my career in education was a second career as a psychotherapist.  Needing to take care of students with issues and later, teachers with issues, I took a number of university and certificate courses to allow me to work more effectively and safely with those whose care I was entrusted.  My counselling focus eventually shifted to include others and to include some “depth” work.  The depth work had a foundation in Jungian psychology.

"Now that I am retired, I am currently in Calgary, Canada working on my writing, my journey through a personal “Dark Night of the Soul” with my wife of forty-one years sharing most of my days and dreams.  Our children and grandchildren have their own homes in both Canada and the U.S.A.  For those interested in these things, I have three children and six grandchildren.

"Since retirement, we have travelled to a number of countries with some becoming places of part-time residence over the past five years. We lived in Changzhou, China for the better parts of four years.  Three months in Costa Rica during one winter, and three months in the Yucatan, Mexico during another winter were other longer stays during this time.  Added to this was a month in Rajasthan, India, a month in Thailand, and a month in IndoChina with most of that time spent in Vietnam.  This past winter break, I spent a a break of ten days in the Philippines.  Of course, if you are a reader here, you are already aware of these things as the selection of photos talk about my response to being in all of these places.  In travelling with a camera, I discover myself through images of both the known and the unknown."

May 21st, 2011 at 4:40 pm
Posted in James Hollis,Jungian Psychology
Tagged with anger, container, divorce, father, grief, imago, James Hollis, Jungian Psychology, loss, Mother, numinous, other, projections, self, Sony A550 DSLR, Vietnam

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