Jung states in all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. Within this perspective a stillpoint is elucidated at the crossroads. A stillpoint of connection is play when a substantial amount of energy is released creating feelings of worth and well being which one longs for. It all begins through the face to face, eye to eye contact between caregiver and infant. Social skills develop for a lifetime of connection through this process. Play lay at the roots of discovery of many of Jung’s ideas and he found solace and comfort in this bounty of nature throughout his lifetime.
Jung’s discovery in his study of alchemy that “the unconscious is a process and that the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego to the contents of the unconscious” is profound for the opus or journey that one encounters. The orientation of play between these entities insures the development of patterns of meaning which determine attitudes and behavior for future struggles and success.
Alchemy contains a model of the individuation process in the image called The Mountain of the Adepts. Jung writes in Psychology and Alchemy (CW 12) that the image contains “the temple of the wise, lit by the sun and moon, stands on seven stages, surmounted by the phoenix. The temple is hidden in the mountain - a hint that the philosophers’ stone (supreme object of alchemy) lies buried in the earth and must be extracted and cleansed. The zodiac in the background symbolizes the duration of the opus, while the four elements indicate wholeness. In the foreground are a blindfolded man and the investigator who follows his natural instinct.”
An anatomy of individuation, the seven stages in the model concretize the experiences of a lifetime that can cumulate in restoration and transformation. This process occurs whether one stumbles along like the blindfolded man searching for truth or the more productive path represented by the investigator who follows the natural instincts. The knowledge of these operations can be a stabilizing force in daily life as these alchemical forces manifest throughout the individuation process.
A vivid example of these operations at work in the middle age of a person involved a cyber affair where the usual coping skill of intellectualization was useless. The standards of society met head to head with family shadow complexes. This one-sidedness of a personality took its toll as life as usual became meaningless and despair set in to deregulate the affective state of being. Save for the grace of play in the dreams and expressive arts modalities, total chaos was held in check. In another situation a symphony, Firebird by Stravinsky, provoked the memory of a dream, in which the phoenix concretized a place at the head table. This stillpoint restored feelings of self worth and well being. Stillpoints are numinous.
Lynda Joslyn, LCSW-C, is a Jungian Analyst, graduate of the CG Jung Institute of New York and a teaching member of Sandplay Therapists of America (STA). She has a private practice in Silver Spring, Maryland.