Monthly Archives: December 2015
I took this photo moments ago. I had tried taking the photo looking out my dining room window from which I had noticed the fire-red sky. The image had too many reflections and was too poor for my collection. So, without thinking too much about it, I ran out of the house wearing nothing but slippers, down the street to find an opening so that I could catch the approach of dawn on the horizon. It was cold out -18C as I stood a ways down our street taking a few photos. Needless to say, I then hurried back to the house and the warmth within it. It was only about ten minutes later when a truck drove by that I realised just what I had done. I was too far from the house to escape notice if that truck would have appeared while I was taking this photo. I would have been seen, stark naked with a camera in hand, in a small prairie town. I really do have to think before I act.
So, what is it that had me take such a thoughtless risk? It was a thoughtless risk as the ripples would have overwhelmed both my wife and myself in this small community if I had been caught naked on the street this cold, winter morning. My sanity would become the first issue as obviously no sane person would be out naked in this winter weather taking photos of dawn on the streets of town. Then, there would be the shame that would chase my wife throughout all her associations in the town as the wife of a crazy man. And should I pass muster as sane, there would likely be legal issues to be dealt with, or at the least, an angry village that would want me – us – gone.
Each of us has a shadow, or perhaps more correctly, shadows within us. We can sense their presence once we open the mind to the possibility that we are more than what our ego tells us we are. These shadowy presences contain both dark aspects of our whole self, as well as the light aspects. Another word for these shadows is “archetypes.” Popular literature talks to us about these archetypes as king, lover, magician, lover, jester (fool), queen, harlot, and so many more. For each of these shadow aspects such as Great Mother and Great Father, there are both dark and light faces. An example is the Great Father which is associated with God, with his dark face being Satan. Buried in our shadows are our unlived and denied aspects of ourselves. We all have our saintly sides and our sinful sides, our inhibited and uninhibited sides. And it is there that perhaps I can find an answer to the question “Why?”
Another thought for me to consider: how do I manage to choose the “right” moment in time to risk these type of exposures, that brief intersect in time when all will be private allowing me to accomplish these unknown objectives?
This might be a bit boring today as I am in a “reflective” mood as I sit here at the keyboard. I have tried to keep busy with other things but nothing seems to hold my attention very long, even trying to watch a TV program. So what is it that is pulling me out of the outer world into the strange spaces of an inner world that defies any logical analysis? Where exactly is this inner world? It seems to vast, to populated with life forms and stories to actually fit within my rather small body, small that is in comparison with the average (5’10” & 190 lbs) for men. Even the biggest and tallest men couldn’t really contain the inner worlds that I get to wander through. But, I digress. As I was saying, I find myself “thinking” and “feeling” in such a manner that seems to have no connection the the physical space around me.
I guess, you could say, it began in the night while I was dreaming. I found myself wandering through scenes that almost could be considered from my past, at least in terms of an altered past. Strangely, though I was naked as usual in my dreams last night, I didn’t have any sense of being vulnerable. Old authority figures that may or may not have existed in my outer world, had strangely become supportive as though I had finally passed exams – exams of character. It felt like I had finally arrived and was judged worthy of taking my place, albeit as a freshman, among others who had passed the decades long process of initiation. When I awoke for the final time this morning, I felt strangely at peace with myself and the world.
The head, it’s all about the outer world, about the evidence we have presented to us via our senses. The heart, it’s all about the inner world, something we often describe as our “gut” feeling.
Naturists and nudists know only too well the dilemma of getting caught between the heart which tells them to be free and the mind that tells them that it might get them into trouble to listen to the heart. As a result, we find ourselves taking calculated risks when we choose to listen to the heart. At least, we do this when “fear” doesn’t have us deny what the heart wants, perhaps even needs.
In depth psychology, there are two rational functions that are evoked – thinking and feeling. Yes, I said “rational.”
Thinking is a mode of evaluation that is concerned with the truth or falsity of experience. It is based upon the intellectual comprehension of things and, in particular, of their conceptual interrelationships. It is a rational, systematic process that seeks to understand reality through analysis and logical inference.
Feeling is an affective, sentimental function. It involves judging the value of things or having an opinion about them on the basis of our likes and dislikes. Experiences are therefore evaluated in terms of good and bad, pleasant or unpleasant, acceptable or unacceptable.
In both instances, we evaluate the situation at hand and then make judgements so that we can act. In my case, I typically rely on my feeling function. I have no problems getting naked when I feel it is safe to do so, and that is understood by me to be most of the time. I risk more than I would if I “thought” about it too much. For example:
- What if someone walks by and sees me in the window?
- What if someone drives by and sees me in the window?
- What if someone walks by in the back lane, or drives by on the next street when I am outside in the back yard?
- What if? What if? What if?
In each of these situations, my gut tells me the likelihood is very low. The reflection on the windows makes looking in rather difficult. People driving by are focused on the road ahead of them for safety. I don’t know that for certain, but the experience of being nude makes the minimal risks seem worth it. There is objective evidence for both ways of making decisions. However, should I focus on what my mind tells me that the likelihood is greater for being seen therefore putting myself in danger.
I don’t bother to close the drapes during the daytime while nude at home, or in the dark hours when most people are asleep. I extend my outdoor experiences to include my back yard in spite of the fence being anything but a privacy fence; as well as in nature areas at somewhat of a distance from towns.
I know others who enjoy being clothes free; however, they limit their nakedness to proven safe areas such as naturist safe zones such as resorts, clothing optional beaches, or in the house when the door is locked and the drapes are closed. They make their choices based on what their mind tells them is a safe situation.
Which function rules your decision making?
A strange image, but perhaps not so strange. The darkness and colours evoke night and winter. There is a tree which sparkles with lights, a tree founded in a valley, protected as it stretches up into the darkness. There is a holiness, an unknowable presence that is hidden in the darkness. Unlike the blue gods of Hinduism, this presence is more powerful, a presence that is older than those gods and goddesses. One must travel even further back in time in search of beginnings, the birthing of a universe out of darkness.
Images are powerful things. Images expose what otherwise would remain in the shadows. Images touch us deep within ourselves to elicit a response, any response, especially responses below the level of ego. This image has been crafted. It once was a photo in someone’s collection, yet if you were to see that original photo you wouldn’t recognise this image, not directly. I changed the image, deleting some of its content; working with exposures, hues and saturations without adding any content. The original has become a tree that exudes a sense of life, winter snow glowing in the depths of a winter night. The image feels right, at least for me. I know the surface story, somewhat; but I know better this story that is a universal story.
We all begin in this place, this darkness which will birth us. We are born out of the darkness and slowly, ever so slowly, we become conscious – bits and pieces at a time. Our source is there in that darkness. We are given life like some newborn king or queen, a holy child from a holy place. This holy presence is our mother, our source, our beginnings.
I debated for some time before deciding to use the image above. It is borrowed as well as altered. I decided that I needed a second image, one that perhaps would help make sense of what I saw. I took this photo as the winter solstice was drawing closer to a close. Again, the same colours to evoke that presence of the feminine, the unconscious contents of the human psyche. We understand the image of the moon as mother. We accept the idea of the man in the moon, a necessity for life to emerge from the mother, just as we accept the idea of the sun being the father, that light, that energy that sparks and quickens life which is a union of the masculine and feminine.
That first image above, is of a woman, an unknown woman, every woman, the eternal and archetypal woman who gives birth, the mother of creation. It is not porn.
Johfra Bosschart was a Dutch artist (1919-1998) who saw the world slightly different from your average person. I found his work when searching for two particular images, astrological representations for Cancer and Virgo, the signs of both my wife and myself (you can see the art for the twelve signs here). But I found more than I had hoped for. The sign for Gemini particularly struck me as being one that evoked ideas of the Mysterium Coniunctionis, a book written by Carl Jung. The central theme is that of the holy marriage. Of course Jung was talking about the marriage (awakening) of both the masculine and feminine within each human.
I continued looking at the strange images and wondered about the man whose soul was caught in those images (see a larger collection of his works here).
There were a few that startled me, images from what I could only guess were from his tortured soul during his own midlife crisis when the veil between the conscious world and the unconscious world is so thin as to allow both heaven and hell to seep through only to overwhelm. Images of darkness, in a period of darkness, give birth to either despair or hope. Hope grows out of despair.
In these dark days, today being the darkest as it is the winter solstice, we struggle as humans. We have been cast out of the Garden of Light into darkness where suffering and death reign. Thrust out of the light, we created so many trails through the wilderness of darkness, those swamplands of soul, which we followed either into madness or back into the light.
The rituals we crafted to show us the way to light, the rituals that brought us hope out of despair were vital, and remain vital. This is the true meaning of Christmas. It doesn’t matter if the story comes from Inuit roots, Germanic roots, pagan roots, or whether they spring out of religions – they all have the same task – the promise of light. So on this darkest of days, I offer you the promise of light that lays ahead in the days to come.
I am sitting in the dining room with my laptop this dark morning of December. It is after eight in the morning and it is still dark outside with no trace of the dawn that is yet to come. December on the Canadian prairies is marked by darkness. The sun will hopefully make an appearance about a quarter past nine, and with luck, will maintain its presence until just before five in the afternoon. The forecast is for some breaks in the cloud cover which has me smile in anticipation. When the sunshine breaks through and the rays are finally able to illuminate the wood-flooring, I begin to truly warm up. Without the sun’s rays, the house is never truly warm. Turning up the central heating can make it feel hot, but it is never the same. It’s a difference that you can fully appreciate when you allow your skin to communicate with the air around you.
I am sitting here wearing my usual costume of air, air that moves as the furnace and fan attempt to circulate warmth. Strange, the movement of air seems to accentuate the coolness rather than the warmth, stirring the stillness so that I truly feel the real temperatures against my skin. Without the forced circulation of air, I would feel warmer as my skin and internal thermostat adjusted. Soon the furnace will go silent and I will feel the stillness and the sense of being warm that will follow.
The only lights to be found in this early morning darkness come from my Christmas tree and street lights outside my windows. The drapes are open to let in whatever light can be found. Since it is Sunday morning there is almost no traffic on the street, no one walking by my windows. As the first undoing of night begins to occur, I watch the horizon begin to appear with a thin cloak of ice haze which has painted the outer world in hoar frost. The world belongs to me.
A beautiful image crafted with care. The moon is drawing closer to the full moon, a time of magic and for many, a time when madness is a thin sliver of time and space away from the real world of things. It is a certain kind of madness that looks at this world and wraps it in love, decorates it with peace and hope. During this night time of the collective soul, through the darkest part of year we light candles, illuminate as much of the darkness with coloured strands of light creating images that bring smiles. We defy the darkness and know that there is more than darkness. I defy this darkness in my own way. For example, I stand naked in the darkness, in the cold, to proclaim that I will emerge from the cold and deadly time to once again smile and love.
I found this image a week ago and felt a need to keep it in hopes of finding a place for it. A recent conversation on Twitter spoke of the dark feminine (thanks Laura), and a different image quoting Jung about the Virgin Mary as the black earth, the dark principle from which life would re-emerge. (Vision Seminars) which I found on Facebook along with these words by Robert Sardello, let me know that it was time for this image to find its way here so that the words would flow.
“What is the soul’s response? It is the quality of stillness. The soul becomes completely quiet, for it has entered into the realm of death…there to begin the task of learning how to be awake and fully conscious. It is a test. The aim of this test is to find whether the force of love, no longer arising from attachment to things in the day-world, can be born out of the soul itself. In other words, can love arise where there is nothing to love?”
Looking back into the days before the moon re-appears in this dark and dead time of the year. It is a time of death. We all witness this darkness where everything we value is lost to us. As a collective we respond with hate, with evil deeds. As individuals we find ourselves in nightmares and sinking into swamplands of depression. In depth psychology, there is an image, an archetypal presence that emerges. In India she is called Kali. She is the dark feminine. She is not evil though she is there where evil is committed in her name. She holds the universe within her waiting for time to ripen so she can allow the soul passage back into the light. And that birthing demands that we let go of our compulsive needs, to risk standing naked before her and before the sun that stirs us back into life.
We are not to flee from her, this dark feminine. She is there to remind us that we are her that she flows within our inner spaces keeping us grounded lest we fly too high into the rays of the sun and be consumed by it. Consummation by the sun is possession by mana and becoming unconscious, ferocious, fundamentalist demons, the dark masculine. And the only escape from its burning, whithering, searing occupation is death, a return to darkness from which we can again be stirred once again by the dark feminine to find the space in between called love, an honest and authentic sense of presence in front of the holy union of masculine and feminine.
It’s early morning, well maybe not that early. I have taken care of all my morning tasks and checked out social media and now have a bit of time on my hand. It’s too cold to go outside without putting on several layers of clothing, something I would not rather do at this point of the day. I will have to go out later and do a few chores around town. Until then, the clothes will stay off.
I did manage to get outside for a brief moment or two, but limited my outing to the back deck where there was some protection from a prairie breeze that turns cold temperatures into a biting and bitter experience that even clothing doesn’t quite seem to erase. When I go walking outdoors on colder days I wear winter clothing including a scarf to protect my cheeks and nose. In spite of the layers of protection, my eyes end up burning when the breeze gets past the edges of my glasses.
I am thankful for my warm home and even for the community within which I have carved a space for myself in spite of being slightly different from my friends and neighbours. The difference isn’t just that I like being nude, it includes my being less social as I spend so many hours writing. They, many in the community, have read a number of my books which challenge to say the least. A number of them have seen my Naked Poetry books as well. And, more than a few have seen me naked in my house or yard. Though I go to a sub-tropical location for three months in the winter, I definitely know where home is.
I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks at Costa Natura with my wife following our seven week hike in northern Spain. I chose this particular image after doing a Google search because it featured a woman who is naturally herself. I didn’t want an image that featured young and attractive bodies of men and women as I am tired of the message they tell us about who should be naturists. Body shape and size and gender are irrelevant. That’s what I liked about Costa Natura – it was a real representation of the regular world where everyone comes in all shapes and sizes and ages.
It’s full winter here now and I have little desire to spent much time outdoors though I do get outside every day. It will be so good to get to Mexico and our sunny oasis in Puerto Morelos. For me, it doesn’t matter that the village isn’t clothing optional as was our resort in Estepona, Spain. I have privacy in our yard and there are two sections of clothing optional beach within walking distance – remember, we like walking.
Now, we’re just counting the days with our baggage is slowly being readied for three months of a snowbird existence.
I can’t claim to be a great mind. The truth is, I am somewhat normal in terms of “mind.” However, madness is definitely present, and more often than not, too present for myself and those close to me. I guess to strive to be naked in a clothed world is one sign of madness.
I am supposed to be somewhat intelligent and have done a lot of work to inch my way forward in hopes of one day becoming wise. I have learned enough to function as a therapist, studied all the strategies and so on. One thing I learned was that when I got angry, or anyone else got angry, it was never really about what another person said or did. Yet, in spite of that basic knowledge, I continue to get caught up in the drama of blame, defence and retaliation feeling fully justified. I claim that “he said,” and “she said,” or that some certain attitude or body language was responsible for my disrupted sense of well-being.
I know better, at least intellectually, but still, when the next button gets pushed, I illogically react. My head explodes with fire and brimstone pouring out laying waste to whoever is in range, including myself. We have all been there and continue to return there engaging in warfare over . . . well, what was it exactly that we went to war for? Looking close, very close, we might discover that we went to war because of our triggers, our buttons. Take care of our own trigger and button problems and we wouldn’t respond with world war intensity. Rather, we might then hear what the other is saying, not necessarily the words, but what lays beneath those words, the pain, the confusion, the fear, the doubt, the sadness . . .
I am learning, slowly, perhaps too slowly, to take a time-out and disengage. If I can find me way out of the chaos running around in my head and body, I retreat into meditation. Otherwise, I simply slip into a darkened corner and try to sit it out, try to regain a bit of sanity.