Yeats and Jung

LeGrand Cinq-Mars and Charles Cameron

Sphinx Festival X: A TenStones Game


LeGrand Cinq-Mars in Seattle, WA writes:

I am interested in history and philosophy of science (especially life sciences and medicine, and especially again the common ground between medicine and psychology), in the mind-body problem, and in what are often called esoteric traditions, into all of which I was led not only by encountering the works of various psychologists and historians, but also by encountering the work of WB Yeats. Born and educated in the US; born onto the net just about the beginning of the Gulf War. Work as a minor (but I hope not petty) bureaucrat in a large educational institution.

Charles Cameron in Los Angeles, writes:

I'm a British poet, living in Los Angeles, fifty-one years old, with a wife, Annie, and seven month old son, Emlyn. I was educated at Oxford, and have maintained a lifelong interest in the workings of the imagination -- a topic that has led me to read and study in the meditative traditions of the far East, Lakota shamanism, Jungian archetypal psychology, etc. I am currently working on a book about "mythologic" -- the logic and patterning of myths, dreams, poems -- and "invented" the WaterBird and TenStones Games in homage to Herman Hesse's Glass Bead Game, and as means of exploring what Gregory Bateson calls "the pattern which connects"...


Charles plays move 1 - "Watkins' Bookstore" in position 9

Watkins' bookstore in Cecil Court, just off the Charing Cross Road in London, was founded in 1891 by John Watkins, and is still London's premier hermetic bookstore.

WB Yeats was a regular at Watkins' bookstore, and must have been fond of the place. In his book *A Vision*, the fictitious character Owen Aherne is asked for Yeats' address by the equally fictitious Michael Robartes, and Yeats -- slightly tongue in cheek -- has him comment, "I did not know where Mr Yeats lived, but said that we could find out from Mr Watkins the book-seller in Cecil's Court..."

Other regular visitors to the store in the early years of this century included AE Waite, GRS Mead, Stephen MacKenna -- the translator of Plotinus -- and CG Jung. According to Geoffrey Watkins, his son, John Watkins was later to be Jung's publisher, bringing out the private 1925 edition of Jung's *VII Sermones ad Mortuos* -- the text purportedly by "Basilides of Alexandria" in which many of Jung's profoundest insights are first encountered.

*

Charles notes:

LeGrand and myself chose to explore together two of the great figures of this century, Yeats and Jung, in our Game. We decided to play the TenStones board, since it is based on the Sephirotic Tree of Cabala -- which Yeats was familiar with as a member of the Golden Dawn, and which Jung mentions in a fascinating passage in *Mysterium Coniunctionis*, and presumably discussed with his friend, Gershon Scholem.


LeGrand plays move 2 -"Conjunctio: Passion and Marriage" in position 10

With some trepidation, as an utter beginner in this kind of game, I play in the tenth position of the Board, naming the move "Conjunctio: Passion and Marriage". This is at once a retiring or hesitant move, and a highly determining move.

Both Jung and Yeats were married, one relatively early and one late; the wives of both were involved in their work. Yeats, for decades before his marriage, had been passionately (on his side at least) absorbed in a hardly hardly (if at all) consummated relationship with Maude Gonne; Jung, already married, became involved with Toni Wolff. These relationships were important for their work as well as their lives. Yeats' relationship with Maude Gonne was open (yet secret: its magical side obscured); Jung's with Toni Wolff was secret (yet open: their professional relationship explicit). Each man brought both wife and lover into their mysteries, though Jung remained giver, and Yeats became receiver.

Both wrote of the duplex aspect of love: Jung about the "marriage quaternio"; Yeats about the marriage bed as "the symbol of the resolved antinomy", where "each an imagined image brings, And finds a real image there." ("Solomon and the Witch")

Finally, it touches on matters of households and the management of estates.

There are resonances beyond this, but how and how far they manifest must depend on the unfolding of the Game.


Charles plays move 3 - "whispering in the dark" in position 8

LeGrand --

your move is almost a Game in itself: the balancing that's going on in your phrase, "Yeats' relationship with Maude Gonne was open (yet secret: its magical side obscured); Jung's with Toni Wolff was secret (yet open: their professional relationship explicit)" would be a delicate move if it stood alone. And I believe I perceive an unspoken harmony between my move at 9 and yours at 10, in that Yeats' wife was intimately involved in the "automatic writing" that led to Yeats' *A Vision* -- while it was Toni Wolff who guided Jung through the tumultuous visionary states encapsulated in what might be termed the "unconscious dictation" of Jung's *Septem Sermones*.

*

My imagination runs from Daemon to sweetheart, and I divine an analogy that evades the intellect....and I even wonder if there may not be some secret communion, some whispering in the dark between Daemon and sweetheart.
The words are Yeats' words, from his *Per Amica Silentiae Lunae*: but it is to Jung that I would apply them, as if he were the speaker.

I place them in position 8, connecting with both Basilides of the Seven Sermons (as a daemonic figure) in 9 and Toni Wolff (as the *soror mystica* and *femme inspiratrice*) in 10.

And do I not detect -- in that phrase about an "analogy that evades the intellect" -- the very essence of our Games?


LeGrand plays move 4 - "also true of nations" in position 5

This move might also have been called "The Castle of Heroes", for it is this magical, political and artistic project that I wish to locate in this position in the Game.

The phrase is from page 184 of my crumbling edition of the _Autobiography_ of WB Yeats, the last prose paragraph in the "Hodos Chamelionis" chapter in which he discusses this project as an attempt to influence the "conspiracy of the unconscious" of modern civilization, by introducing new (or old) images and ideas into the "nation-wide multiform reverie" of Ireland.

In this project he worked closely with Maud Gonne (it was the time of the contracting of their spiritual marriage), with Lady Gregory, and his maternal uncle George Pollexfen, among others (mostly women). The whole project was linked with his attempt to gain a closer union with Maud by means of a shared magical and artistic political project.

I would this claim a link with "whispering in the dark" in position 8, a link both similar (the thoughts and images springing from shared passion, linked with femmes inspiratrices) and contrastive (a project ultimately public and political, of a poet-mage, as opposed to the secret scripture of a physician whose firm hold on Swiss respectability may have defended him, in no small measure, from much of the temptation of messianic inflation).


Charles plays move 5 - "Anima Mundi" in position 6

In making this move, I invite resonances in general with Yeats' understanding of this phrase, which I take to correspond very roughly with Jung's "Collective Unconscious"... But I am also specifically alluding to the following paragraph from Yeats' essay of that title, once again from *Per Amica Silentia Lunae*:

Before the mind's eye whether in sleep or waking, came images that one was to discover presently in some book one had never read, and after looking in vain for explanation to the current theory of forgotten personal memory, I came to believe in a great memory passing on from generation to generation. But that was not enough, for these images showed intention and choice. They had a relation to what one knew and yet were an extension of one's knowledge. If no mind was there, why should I suddenly come upon salt and antimony, upon the liquefaction of the gold, as they were understood by the alchemists, or upon some detail of cabalistic symbolism verified at last by a learned scholar from his never-published manuscripts, and who can have put together so ingeniously, working by some law of association and yet with clear intention and personal application, certain mythological images.

The synchronistic finding of a certain book, the great memory, the images, the alchemical references, even the "law of association"... Here as in position 8, the thought could easily be the thought of Jung, but the words are the words of Yeats.


LeGrand plays move 6 - "while he versified" in position 7

Charles --

As you, at position 8, placed Yeats speaking (as it were) of Jung's (un-wedded) relationship with Toni Wolff in the manifestation of the _Septem Sermones_, so I, in position 7, would place Jung (what secret parallel processing in the anima mundi!) speaking of Yeats' (wedded) relationship with Georgie Hyde-Lees in the development of _A Vision_.

Jung, in _The Psychology of the Transference_, in discussing the relationship between alchemist and the *soror mystica* (each bearing the other's projections), summarizes much about the relationship between Thomas South and his daughter by saying, "She wrote a thick, erudite tome while he versified" (p. 296) and, after some remarks about John Pordage and Jane Lead, "the man's opus is concerned with the erotic aspect of the anima, while the woman's is concerned with the animus, which is a 'function of the head'".

I think here of "The Gift of Harun al-Rashid", revealing in the veils of fiction the tale of _A Vision_, which begins with a mention of Sappho's poems, tells the story of the learned man whose young wife stares "on old dry writing in a learned tongue ... As if that writing or the figured page Were some dear cheek" before falling into the trances that reveal the great system, and ends with his realization that "all those gyres and cubes and midnight things Are but a new expression of her body Drunk with the bitter sweetness of her youth." And this itself an inversion of the days after Yeats' wedding, in the near disaster of which his wife decided to try to fake automatic writing, while he (thinking of Maud Gonne) versified.

If links are to be claimed then, I would claim them with all contiguous positions but the still-unfilled Position 4.


Charles plays move 7 - "elemental powers of his own soul" in position 4

LeGrand's move 4 invoked Yeats' "magical, political and artistic project", and indeed the mythic and "real" Irelands were inextricably interwoven in his life and work.

Historian William Irwin Thompson has written:

The Irish revolutionaries lived as if they were in a work of art, and this inability to tell the difference between sober reality and the realm of the imagination is perhaps one very important characteristic of a revolutionary.
and Yeats can regret in a poem the possibility that his words in a play had sent young men to their deaths:
Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot?

*

In position 4, I place Jung's phrase "elemental powers of his own soul".

It comes from Jung's prophetic 1932 essay "The Development of Personality", and I offer it in token of the involvement of both Yeats and Jung in visionary politics:

We are menaced to a terrifying degree by wars and revolutions that are nothing other than psychic epidemics. At any time several million people can be stricken with madness, and then we have another world war or a devastation revolution. Rather than wild animals, falling rocks, and flooding waters, man is now exposed to the elemental powers of his own soul.

Jung had repeated visions of Europe drowning in a tide of blood, and was fascinated with the image of Wotan, whom he viewed as:

a god of storm and agitation, an unleasher of passion and lust for battle...
and as the archetypal force behind Nazism.


LeGrand plays move 8 - "original sin" in position 2

Charles' move in position 4 extends the upward reach of Jung in the counterchanging twining of Yeats and Jung along the two side columns of the game board; I move to complete the Yeats strand with this move, a quotation from Yeats' "Vacillation", climbing up past the realms of art, magic and politics, and all the deep designs on the shared soul of humanity, to the realm of individual, defining choice, made knowing its inevitable imperfection ("The intellect of man is forced to choose," says Yeats elsewhere, "perfection of the life or of the work"), and accepting "open-eyed and laughing" the consequences thereof.

In doing so I suppose that in a certain sense, the political implications of the stances now linked with positions 4 and 5 on the board, were errors, even terrible errors, but perhaps not only inevitable, but an inevitable part of the whole in which "fair and foul are next of kin".

The Soul. Seek out reality, leave things that seem.
The Heart. What, be a singer born and lack a theme?
The Soul. Isaiah's coal, what more can man desire?
The Heart. Struck dumb in the simplicity of fire!
The Soul. Look on that fire, salvation walks within.
The Heart. What theme had Homer but original sin?


Charles plays move 9 - "you are really a poet yourself" in position 3

I am not sure whether it is Yeats or LeGrand who considers it a matter of "climbing up past the realms of art, magic and politics, and all the deep designs on the shared soul of humanity, to the realm of individual, defining choice" -- but I would juxtapose to Yeats' dialogue of Soul with Heart, Jung's late triple experience of the Marriage of Tifereth with Malkuth, the Marriage of the Lamb "in a Jerusalem festively bedecked", and the consummation of the Mystic Marriage of Zeus and Hera (p 294 of *Memories, Dreams, Reflections*).

In this mystical marriage, Jung wrote, "The soul attains, as it were, its missing half, it achieves wholeness."

Miguel Serrano's letters and discussions with Jung at the very end of Jung's life centered on this mystical marriage, and Serrano records Jung, seemingly talking to himself one day, saying:

Once there was a flower, a stone, a crystal, a queen, a king, a palace, a lover and his beloved, somewhere, a long, long time ago, on an island in the middle of the ocean, five thousand years ago... Such a thing is love, the mystical flower of the soul. That is the center of the self... Nobody understand what I mean... only a poet could sense it.

Serrano replied

But you are really a poet yourself... and this woman, is she still alive?

And Jung said:

She died eight years ago... I am very old...

*

Charles notes:

LeGrand:

For myself, I am pleased in this move to have linked Jung not only with poetry, Yeats' field of endeavor, but also with the Sephirotic Tree on which our TenStones board is based, and with Herman Hesse, spiritual grandfather to our Game -- for it is in his book *CG Jung and Herman Hesse* that Serrano recounts this tale of Jung, at last, as poet.

I keenly await your final move...


LeGrand closes with move 10 - "only one striving" in position 1

The theme of individuation, or wholeness, of unity of being, is the last in the column of shared and yet complementary themes to be played in this game.

The phrase that names the move is from the last paragraph of the first of Jung's Seven Sermons:

At bottom, therefore, there is only one striving, namely, the striving after your own being.

Elsewhere (in _Mysterium Coniunctionis_, CW 14, 617) Jung, speaking in his own voice, carefully differentiates between this process of becoming truly individual, truly whole, and any march toward perfection.

Only one thing is clear, that when ... the patient obtains a knowledge of this structure, based on experience, and accepts the responsibility entailed by this knowledge, there follows an integration or *completeness* of the individual, who in this way approaches *wholeness* but not *perfection* ....

And again (CW 17, 623)

The state of imperfect transmutation ... does not seem to be one of torment only, but of positive, if hidden, happiness. It is the state of someone who, in his wanderings among the mazes of his psychic transformation, comes upon a secret happiness which reconciles him to his apparent loneliness. In communing with himself he finds not deadly boredom and melancholy but an inner partner; more than that, a relationship that seems like the happiness of a secret love, or like a hidden springtime, when the green seed sprouts from the barren earth .... It is the alchemical *benedicta viriditas*, the blessed greenness ... the secret immanence of the divine spirit of life in all things.

Perhaps Yeats' best-known image of this scandalous wholeness that is not perfection are in the words that he has Crazy Jane say to the Bishop

For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent

And also, in a description of the coniunctio ("Consolation") that itself embodies the union of profane and sacred --

How could passion run so deep
Had I never thought
That the crime of being born
Blackens all our lot?
But where the crime's committed
The crime can be forgot.

But for the final image of the bitter sweetness of wholeness and individuation born of the realization of opposites ("the marriage bed as the symbol of the solved antinomy") I would bring in these lines from Supernatural Songs --

As the moon sidles up
Must she sidle up,
As trips the scared moon
Away she must trip:
'His light had struck me blind
Dared I stop'.

She sings as the moon sings:
'I am I, am I;
The greater grows my light
The further that I fly'.
All creation shivers
With that sweet cry.

*

LeGrand notes:

Charles:

I hesitate to say more: the imperfection and loss that make for wholeness, the truth that we can embody but not know, by which we stand distinct from but mirroring the great pleroma -- and the link of course with the Name (AHIH AShr AHIH) that tradition associates with the summit of that green and golden Tree that has lent itself to be the board for our game.

LeGrand Cinq-Mars



Yeats and Jung

LeGrand Cinq-Mars and Charles Cameron, A Sphinx Festival TenStones Game



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HipBone Games rules, boards, sample games and other materials are copyright (c) Charles Cameron 1995, 96, 97. See Concerning Copyright for full copyright details.