Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Real Meaning of Easter and Springtime

In nature and inside ourselves are energy patterns and dynamics that activate. Humanity evolved over a million years or more responding to the seasons of the year. Thus we have built into our genes, our psyches, a natural energy rhythm that we would do well to acknowledge and not avoid.

- finding Easter Eggs in an Easter egg hunt

- going to Easter Sunday church service when you don't go other times of the year

- getting in a car accident you never intended to happen, or did you?

- starting a love affair, whether married or not

- buying new clothes for yourself to go into summer with

- marrying the wrong person, and so later you have to get a divorce

- wanting to take a week's vacation instead of work at your job

- reading the latest mystery novels just out this year at this time

- going into nature with your friends and doing at least a walk there

- feeling depressed because you have nobody to love


What does the above list have in common?

- Why must you watch out for its effects?

- Why do certain celebrations occur traditionally at this transition from winter into springtime that is the 21st of March and the month of April?

In Jungian terms the archetype of Death-Rebirth becomes most active at springtime.

Death-Rebirth? What is that?

In nature and inside ourselves are energy patterns and dynamics that activate. Humanity evolved over a million years or more responding to the seasons of the year. Thus we have built into our genes, our psyches, a natural energy rhythm that we would do well to acknowledge and not avoid.

For what is not faced consciously in our awareness gets acted out anyway unconsciously.

Why do Norwegians every springtime take a week or more vacation at their summer cottages by the sea or in the mountains?

It's a wonderful thing to do. After the long Northern winter of more darkness than light, of more cold than warmth, the Norwegians are used to the seasonal shifts.

The spring equinox is the transition point when the hours of night equal the hours of day. We can imagine the long winter nights of the Northern countries, such as Norway. When spring finally arrives a sense of happiness comes with it, or so we think.

What about the dark side, the people who commit suicide when the spring comes, the people who have accidents?

One strange custom that has developed in Norway is that Norwegians when they go in the spring to their cottages also take along this year's published thrillers and mysteries. This type of genre is all about being killed and finding the killer. Why should a strong people who have just survived the winter then want to read fiction about death?

Well, don't think everything is just fine in the springtime. Norway has other forms of death for you, like quicksand in the forest because the ground is no longer frozen. Or how about you are hiking up the big mountain in Norway and suddenly the ground under you on the path just collapses into running water and mud and you are swept off the mountain to your death?

Yes, things like this happen every year in Norway. Several deaths occur to hikers in the Norway mountains when the springtime is arriving. Death is not over. Springtime is also the time they find the thawed-out bodies of those Norwegians who have chosen to commit suicide in the past winter by going into the forest and sitting under a favorite tree and freezing to death.

Deaths like this are no stranger to the Norway clime.

What is going on?

Since Death-Rebirth is the archetype of springtime this means that one must experience death first and then rebirth, then new life. The religion knows this with its Black Friday and then its Easter Sunrise service.

You don't have to go to an actual church service to feel the effects of Death-Rebirth. But the archetype is there.

Part of the monastic service is to have a midnight service and the lighting of the new pascal candle which has nails in it representing the crucifixion.

Thus built into our psychology is the recognition that we have to acknowledge our suffering and hurt and go through a letting go process to release ourselves into new birth.

The beauty of doing a sunrise experience is that you experience in nature Death-Rebirth, and this experience becomes a conscious part of you for as long as you live.

I went with some friends years ago and drove to the top of the local mountain, Mt. Diablo, in Northern California. There in the darkness we waiting all night looking out over the near and distant cities that kept their street lights on, the energy of humanity. We talked. We meditated. We knew the significance for us in our own lives of the Death-Rebirth experiences we were going through. Finally from the stone-walled walkway we saw the dawn breaking in the far distance. We had stayed up all night in our vigil and sharing together.

Here was our reward: the new dawn to a special day of rebirth. It is never to be forgotten.

Of course, the important level is to also take such things inside.

As a dreamwork psychologist, I wanted to figure our why when I lived and taught in Norway that the Norwegians read the new mystery novels at springtime. They did not know consciously themselves. It was a fad that most of them did.

Could it be that the Norwegians had waited out the long winter cold and at last when they did not have to be so strong any longer they could indulge in reading about surviving death?

What is the essence of these death-defying thrillers if not to catch the murderer before he or she catches you.

We all know we are under sentence of death but with indefinite reprieve, as Victor Hugo, the French writer, put it, but we don't know when our death will come. Will it be this year or the next, or after that? But it will come.

It's great in reading a thriller to realize that though there are deaths in the story, none of those victims are you. You are alive one more year, or so you hope.

Thus for me in the Norway sun and rains, and the new leaves on the branches of the trees, I felt a certain sadness. I was so glad to be alive still another year, and always planned to make good use of my "luck." But I also knew that one of these years the spring would come and I would not be there to marvel in its new life. The very wooden Norway house I lived in could have been built by those no longer alive. I lived in a dead man's house. And if not the house being there after me, at least the other houses of our community in the country of Norway, beloved land of all the seasons, would surely outlive me.

Whether by the sea in spring in California, or high atop the mountain elsewhere, it is a time to go adventuring and meditate on all your life is now.

What must you lose and give up? What must you sacrifice so you don't have to sacrifice life itself, even gruesomely as recounted here?

Better to realize the death part of your life now, the letting go of what can never more be. This is the base, the preparation to look forward to, and to experience through choice the new life you will dedicate yourself to with passion and awareness, as you live further your existence purposefully on this earth.

View Drs Kaplan-Williams' extraordinary blog at:

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