I feel I am on a threshold. On the one hand, I know the presence and commitment to the quality of presence I have in helping out others in therapy, this accesses the knowledge I have acquired or allowed to come forth from the spiritual path of my life. On the other hand, since the knowledge of walking on that path means so much to me, would there be a way to more openly work with others on their spiritual journeys? As a therapist (one of the many possible labels for the expression of my existence on this earth) I am always ready to journey into that spiritual area if someone finds that path of interest before them. A resource that I discovered as I continued to look for traditions with love and everyday experiencing as an open part of their spiritual understandings, this resource I have mentioned before. Since it seems to be a bridge between the world of the everyday, where most therapy takes places, as many think of it, and the world that touches more on a deeper level, at a depth that does not always manifest or come to be revealed in therapy, I think of it as a resource worth mentioning again. This resource happens to be a recent discovery of a universal story that establishes a completely different model for living happily in the world, and it is actually living in the world, with love being an essential part of its fulfillment.
When an attendee at a workshop on scriptwriting heard how the late 20th century American mythologist Joseph Campbell, in his pursuit of understanding myths from around the world, discovered what he called a Hero's Journey, a universal story that could be found in all stories and myths purportedly throughout history, this woman became intrigued. The therapist introducing the story structure at the workshop continued by sharing how Campbell was influenced by the early 20th century psychologist, Carl Jung.
Joseph Campbell believed in the work of Carl Jung, a therapist whose work informs mine also, not incidentally. Carl Jung discovered through his efforts in helping patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early part of the 20th century that people seemed to have an area unknown within themselves called the unconscious, whose presence could be inferred most strikingly from the more severe cases of those patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. In these cases, seemingly whole and intact foreign personalities or personas not previously displayed or shown by these individuals seemed to take over their conscious personalities. To put it simply, some of these personalities included larger-than-life figures, including fictional characters from stories, or historical figures from around the world. Through his discoveries made in this work, Jung conjectured that the unconscious or unknown parts of the mind within any person can access what he called archetypes or the potential for powerful behavior felt from within, whether the behavior be desirable or undesirable for the individual. These behaviors coincide with the descriptions of characters and figures from around the world, in myths and stories. When Campbell discovered the Hero's Journey then, as a single pattern or story structure found within the myths and stories of world cultures, he was discovering a very particular model of behavior, which seemed to suggest a model for living, a model of sacrificing for the good of the whole, as a way of living life while preserving one's community.
Back to the woman attending the workshop--she asked about or suggested to the guest psychologist giving the talk how the Hero's Journey seemed to describe men's lives or their behavior to follow. What about a story for women? The psychologist simply said, or suggested, that women might apply this universal story through more of a passive approach to this story structure. The attending woman, interested in this universal story structure, but believing there might be something more out there for women as well, began her pursuit of such a story structure.
If her efforts are to be believed, and I certainly believe them, author and speaker Kim Hudson identified such a structure of story in her response to that workshop's lecturer, a structure she has called the Virgin's Promise, another model for living life, a single pattern that can be found in the myths and stories from around the world. Jung always contended that the power of archetypes comes from their ability to emotionally inspire, affect, or resonate with individuals upon being exposed to them in some way. This could happen in dreams, upon hearing a story, reading one, or even in seeing one, such as in the movies of today. Star Wars, the original trilogy, was shaped consciously around many of the mythical figures Joseph Campbell identified in his research of world mythical structures.
I have read Kim's work on the Virgin's Promise, and learned about how she went to Jungian institutes, those places where therapists interested in learning more about and getting certified in Jung's approach to therapy may get training. She analyzed movies, stories from different cultures, fairy tales, myths, all of these, in addition to her continued training at Jungian institute workshops. She did come to identify another single pattern or story structure, across all of these forms of storytelling, across history. What she calls the more feminine approach to living life, as a universal story structure, in comparison to the more masculine approach identified by Joseph Campbell, this seems to be a bridge into the work I want to do, am actually doing in the world. I certainly have no problem putting it forth as a model for living now. Reading Kim's work resonated with me, as Jung no doubt would have said it would. One interviewer had the same response as I did to Kim's work, that it seemed to be a model for a healthy way of living, a way of being oneself, not just a story around which one can shape a narrative. Women reviewers of her book have echoed the same pull to meaning, the same Jungian resonance with the story Kim identified, the structure speaking to them as a way to meaningfully live their lives.
I say "Kim" versus "Hudson" in my blog entry here, as a way of referencing her in a more informal way, because I have corresponded with Kim, her having encouraged me in the work I do in therapy, and me having thanked her for the work she has done in her book. I have made use of her structured story steps as a one-page handout in therapy sessions at times, as a possible way of looking at where a person has been, and where they might be going, as a healthy and fulfilling way to live. Honestly, to me, we are all continually saturated with the message of the self-sacrificing way of living which this culture has produced, akin to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, and thankfully, to me, the Virgin's Promise represents a truly marvelous and resonating alternative to this way of living life, for really living and fulfilling it, with the possibility of experiencing true meaning in it.
As before, I invite you to check out Kim Hudson's work on this universal story structure she found for living a more fulfilling, and yes, feminine, way of life. And yes, I do feel like, as Kim says, that the story and structure of it are for men as well as women. She identifies several movies in her work in which the male characters of all types have lived the feminine way of life, which actually describes the movie Rocky, believe it or not.
I can always share more about this work of Kim's, which I may do in the future.
Here again you can find her work, The Virgin's Promise: Amazon link.
Here also is about an hour-long interview, the one I mentioned above, in which Kim and her interviewer discuss the universal story Kim identified, and how it represents a healthy way of living, not just a meaningful way to tell a story: Film Talk interview.
Mark Newlon, feeling the embrace of the sacred feminine daily!
Sites of Interest