There are so any times, and so many reasons, we need help from a source greater than ourselves. As 12 step programs say, we need to understand what is in our control and what is not. However, when it is not, that’s when I make the call. Jungian Psychology names that force: the anima or animus; the contra sexual part of the psyche that supports the ego when it is at its wits end; when we need to know what we don’t know.
I was alone in Greece doing research for my novel, Echo the Ancients, and had rented a car to drive to Delphi from Athens. If you’ve ever driven in Greece, you’ll know what an adventure that is; the signs are all in Greek. After a magical day and night at the site, I was faced with the daunting task of finding my way back through Athens to the car rental agency. I was definitely at my wits end, and so, had a tearful conversation with my animus to please get us there in one piece and without getting lost. I hate to get lost. Maps would do no good, as the street map of Athens is a labyrinth of twisting turns, one way streets and streets that end with no warning. I knew that there was no choice but to drive, and hope and believe that my unconscious would do its job because I’d asked for help.
You might call it, being on auto-pilot. Within minutes of arriving at the city limits I drove directly to the rental car agency. I called it a miracle then, and still do.
That was not the first time or would it be the last that I found the help I needed when traveling alone. For those of you who are like me; intrepid lone explorers,I know you’ll understand; when we have companions we turn to them for help, when we’re alone, we turn inward to a power far greater than ourselves.
The fun part of relationship with the Muse is on creative projects. My favorite example is when I was in love with a place: The Yucatan. My first trip was with my daughter and friends to Isla Mujeres: The Island of Women off the coast of Cancun. On our visit to the archeological Mayan site at Tulum, I went alone into a cave and envisioned a Mayan girl who’d gone there to be alone. That was the beginning of 20 years of research about the Maya, of 12 visits to the area, of several newspaper and magazine articles about the place, and my novel, The Jaguar’s House.
Several years into my intoxication with The Yucatan, I went alone to photograph images and capture the magical spirit of the land. I’d taught myself how to photograph in a way that part of the image was transparent; that would represent the spirit. It was the most fun I’ve ever had. I went to each of my favorite places; the beach at Isla, Cenote Azul off the coast, Tulum, of course, and the inland archaeological site at Coba. Using my new technique, I played with the land and the spirits that lived there. The following images are from that time.
I was never alone, but always with my dearest love; my animus, my muse. Whatever name I call that force, it is with me always and most evident when I’m alone. At home in everyday life, it arises when I’m sad, or especially glad and in need of inspiration. I believe that at root, it is inspiration; an uprising from the unconscious of something that wants to come into being.