LIVING INTO OUR HERITAGE
by Iona Miller, (c)2016
The driving force, so far as it is possible for us to grasp it,
seems to be in essence only an urge towards self-realization. —C. G. Jung
Genealogy is a sacred narrative of origins. Ancient stories describe a previous World Age in which a colossal tree dominated the celestial landscape, joining heaven to earth. This is the origin of the World Tree, and the Family Tree. This Tree of Life has its roots in heaven and its branches growing downward through genealogical descent, giving life-giving function to the possibilities of life.
Genealogy is our map of the unconscious -- the Land of the Dead. In the beginning, it is like drawing a map of the world on a sheet of paper with as little concept of our ancestors as unknown seas and continents. But, that map is a beginning, a framework in which later discoveries can be placed. What is confusing at first will perhaps in a later stage of the journey be made clearer.
Living Mystery of Life
We return to our own Tree of Knowledge, not for another bite, but for the whole feast. We learn in the symbolic sense that we are Adam and Eve, and every other divine, noble, and common couple in our lineage, who collectively embody the royal wedding or coniunctio of the Sun and Moon, King and Queen.
The image of human union was anchored in the symbolic union of heaven and earth, binding the opposites in union and love stronger than death. It was celebrated annually in the temple precinct between the king and the high priestess, who personified the goddess.
As Jung says, "The living mystery of life is always hidden between Two, and it is the true mystery which cannot be betrayed by words and depleted by arguments. (Letters Vol. II, Page 581)
Our genealogy is that Tree and cosmic center that keeps us connected and balanced, and upon which we can ascend and descend in a way that keeps deep time, the transcendent, and our family of flesh alive within us. To eat from the Tree of Life is to recognize our origin in the imperishable world with the implication of the return of the soul to that world.
If your tree has been dormant, enliven it with your love and attention. Jung reminds us, "The unconscious can move in every possible direction, even in time it can go forward and backward, because it knows no space." (Visions Seminar, Vol. I.)
As a symbolic image, the family tree can also be likened to a mandala or labyrinth that we 'walk' over and over in deep contemplation. Jung likened the significance of mandalas to places of refuge, sanctuary, rebirth, renewal, initiation, etc., and like Neolithic stone-circles, linked to ancestor veneration.
People died, but their survivors remembered them as clearly as if they still walked beside them. Myths were needed to explain the mysteries of life. What had become of them, because they clearly had not disappeared completely even after their bodies decayed into dust? And people were born out of the bellies of their mothers, soon growing into adults who repeated the generative cycle -- the archetypes of mother, father, and child.
Genealogy itself is a value-creating function opposing life-denying tendencies that take on new significance at every turn. Whether we actively engage in psychogenealogy or are simply drawing the family tree, the affective side of genealogy is perceived by, and works on, the mind creating and modulating psychophysical effects. We acquire depth in our attempts to heal ourselves. Intergenerational family identity is positively related to well-being.
Our poetic approach is echoed by Csikszentmihalyi: “the poet’s responsibility to be a witness, a recorder of experience, is part of the broader responsibility we all have for keeping the universe ordered through our consciousness.”
This is the burden everybody has to carry:
to live the life we have got to live.
~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 515-516