A Day with...
Today, as we continue to explore “The Stranger at the Door,” we will focus our attention inward and ask, “What is the relationship between the stranger at the door, and my inner life? “ How do I proceed?
Fortunately,Jung draws a straight line for us from theological and mythological considerations about this archetype directly to psychology, to psyche, and the individuation process.
In Psychotherapists or Clergy, he wrote, "Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ—all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders yea the very fiend himself—that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved—what then? (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works: page 330, ¶520).
Taking Jung’s lead, let’s consider the possibility that, at least in part, I have within me elements of my own life that are strangers to me, and in need of care and recognition. This is a hard problem! As Dr. Jung says, “…simple things are always the most difficult.”
I could start with my dreams. What if I think of my dream as a stranger, or beggar, or supplicant arriving at my door? Do I greet my dreams, and shadow-selves, in the way the ancients greeted a stranger at the door, with xenios—invite them in and offer them kindness and hospitality? This could be a scary thought! If I did, might my dreams, and even my shadow, reward me with clues, information, stories I have not heard, or other blessings. Remember, the ancient Greeks believed that a dream was a god in disguise!
In order to mediate this process, during our seminar, we will reflect analytically on some dreams and stories, which show us how we—the ego consciousness—may be enlarged when we “greet the beggar at the door.” We will also set aside times of silence for simplicity, introspection and journaling.
I hope you will join us for this Day with…the Stranger at the Door.
Bonnie L. Damron, PhD, LCSW is a psychotherapist, ethnographer, storyteller, and Archetypal Pattern Analyst in private practice in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. During her thirty-four years in practice, she has conducted seminars on archetypal motifs in fairy tales, myths, the arts, and the writings of C.G. Jung. She also leads study tours to Crete and the Greek mainland. Dr. Damron holds a Masters of Social Work degree from Catholic University, a Doctoral Degree in American Culture Studies from the University of Maryland, and a Certificate as an Archetypal Pattern Analyst from the Assisi Institute for Archetypal Studies.