Chuck’s Place: Mother Unconscious

The little songbird channels from above... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The little songbird channels from above…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When I discovered that Art Garfunkel was coming to our little town, I knew I had to see him, to see what he had to offer now. The music of Art and Paulie, as he so affectionately referred to Paul Simon, has sung to my soul for the past 50 years. If the Beatles were the extraverted splash of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, Simon and Garfunkel were its introverted soul.

Art is in the midst of his “mending tour,” having lost his voice three years ago. His voice, to my ear, was utterly beautiful, echoing the sounds of yesteryear to near perfection. He interspersed the music with personal poems and heartfelt stories from his magical life. His poetry was sweet, but it soon became abundantly clear who the real poet was. Paul is the poet, his verses channel the sober truths of spirit, while Art is the conduit, the beautiful songbird of spirit. Together, as Simon and Garfunkel, they captured a wholeness of spirit, light and dark.

The concert ended without answering my question: What do you have to say now, Art Garfunkel? The audience roared, seeking an encore. I couldn’t bear to see this icon forced to conform to such a mundane custom, but Poughkeepsie demanded it. Finally, Art slowly and gently stepped back on stage and said: “I’m going to sing you to sleep.” Then this Jewish choir boy from Queens sang Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And with that he delivered his message of now.

This prayer speaks to the truth that when we close our eyes each night and go to sleep we must surrender our consciousness, our soul, just as here in this childhood prayer, asking the Lord to hold it and protect it through the dark night that we might be born again the next day, consciousness rejuvenated into the light of a new day.

Each twenty-four hour day is a complete life cycle. We are born in the morning. We heroically go forth and take on the challenges of life and the world through the afternoon. Then comes nightfall when we must surrender life to Mother Sleep, who holds us in her arms and hopefully delivers us anew the next day.

Carl Jung writes in Symbols of Transformation: “In the morning of life the son tears himself loose from the mother, from the domestic hearth, to rise through battle to his destined heights. Always he imagines his worst enemy in front of him, yet he carries the enemy within himself—a deadly longing for the abyss, a longing to drown his own source, to be sucked down to the realm of the Mothers. His life is a constant struggle against extinction, a violent yet fleeting deliverance from every-lurking night. This death is no external enemy, it is his own inner longing for the stillness and profound peace of all-knowing nonexistence, for all-seeing sleep in the ocean of coming-to-be and passing away. Even in his highest strivings for harmony and balance, for the profundities of philosophy and the raptures of the artist, he seeks death, immobility, satiety, rest.”

There is something to be learned when encountering the dark side of the moon... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
There is something to be learned when encountering the dark side of the moon…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Mother is the most powerful being; she gives life yet in her wrath she might take it as well. Every child instinctively shudders at the dark side of the moon, Mother’s bad moods. Psychoanalyst Melanie Klein called it the good breast and the bad breast, the one what nurtures and the one that withholds life. The child is powerless and beholden to the moods of the Mother Goddess.

In adulthood the relation to Mother, the source of life and renewal, transfers to the depths of the unconscious that each evening greets us in sleep. In sleep and dream we are unburdened of our daily tensions or haunted by nightmares from the depths. We are essentially at the mercy of the moods of Mother Unconscious. Art Garfunkel is wise to suggest we put our souls in good hands as we drift off on this momentous night sea journey.

However, the advantage of adulthood is that we are now fully able to engage and work with the mighty powers of the deep as we take our journey toward rebirth. Beyond our childhood prayer for protection we are now empowered to take full possession of our soul as we go to meet the deep instinctive forces that pressure us during life and challenge our ego fortresses.

Perhaps the storms of nightmare are connected to the raging great Mother who challenges our ego’s neglect of our deepest needs or deepest truths. If the ego can listen to its dreams, however terrifying, and face what is being asked of it to change in attitude and behavior, it might find future dreams of benevolent support for changes constituted consciously. The ego is also free to hold onto consciousness in waking dreams, where we confront the forces of the deep in their projections upon the relationships of waking life.

Seek consciousness in the waking dream too... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Seek consciousness in the waking dream too…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I appreciate most that the message Art Garfunkel gives now, after all these years, is to pay attention to the night and the power of Mother Unconscious. This is the playing field where all the terrifying forces in the world find their origin. This is the playing field where we are empowered to achieve the union and wholeness we seek to advance deeper into life.

As we lay ourselves down to sleep, let us hold onto our souls and go to meet the Great Mother in her love or in her wrath, as adults. It is up to us now to guide the Mothership, humbly respecting its power and truth.

Conscious in the dream,

The above quote is from Carl Jung Symbols of Transformation (C.W. 5) pp. 355-56

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