Connection to the Environment

I think it’s fitting that we’ve been talking about our connection with nature because, scanning a couple of Jungian journals, I found that both Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture and Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche have both chosen to center their Winter editions on our relationship to the environment and how it influences psyche.  Much of the discussion relates to, without necessarily naming it, Jung’s later conceptualization of the Psychoid, which expanded his definition of the collective unconscious to include all of the natural world.  Hillman, too, focused much of his attention to the living natural world and our responsibility to attend to it as much as, or more than, we attend to our own egos and internal lives.  Called different things by different people, it seems many are coming to the same point – that we are intrinsically a part of our environment, and abusing it has dire consequences for our own well-being – our personal and collective psyche, and the anima mundi, or “soul of the world.”

An article in Jung Journal (2012) focuses on the thought of anthropologist, deep ecologist, and professor, David Abram.  His language, an ecological language, captures the essence of what is variously called Psychoid, or unus mundus, or anima mundi beautifully when he writes:

“…we and other animals don’t really live on the Earth.  After all, this invisible air we’re continually imbibing – this unseen atmosphere that we exchange among ourselves here in this room but also with the herbs and trees outside the building – this gusting medium of air is entirely a part of the Earth.  The space between us is not a void; it’s not an empty space continuous with the space between the planets.  Rather the air is a thick, meaning-filled plenum – rich with whiffs and pheromones and unseen clouds of pollen drifting this way and that, thick with messages moving between the bees and the blossoms.  That is, although the medium around us cannot normally be seen, it is nonetheless palpable, tangible, and filled with consequential happenings.  The unseen air has its flavor and its ever-shifting smells, its turbulence and its calms.  The atmosphere is a planetary membrane that extends right up to the clouds and beyond, an invisible layer of Earth.

Hence we don’t really live on the Earth; we live in the Earth.” (volume 7(1), pp. 109-110)

What this means for us from an action standpoint can seem overwhelming.  Albrecht (2012) has called this “eco-paralysis,” which “occurs when there is an overload of negative ecological information against which persons can do nothing sufficiently positive” (Spring, 88, p.14).  I, personally, feel I fall into this category.  However, if I continue to do what I can in my small universe, and support others who are brave enough to advocate at national and international levels, I can revel in what is still right with our environment.  And I believe there is plenty that is still “right” with our environment in Northeast Ohio.  Plenty to do, but also plenty of pleroma in which to find our sustenance to move forward.  With hope,

 Hallie Durchslag, LISW

 If you would like to find out more about David Abram, he provides a website for his work, I have not explored it, myself, but perhaps others will share their thoughts in the blog.  A note about the RSS feeds: they have been difficult for me to figure out, myself. I will share simple “how-tos” once I have found them…