Psyche and Nature Essay

Pages: 10 (3383 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Geography

Nature of Man and the Mountain

If you stand before a mountain, it is almost impossible not to be moved by the majesty of it. Standing tall, having been there for eons, it is slightly worn down from its original heights, but it still reaches high into the clouds. A man cannot help but be moved to contemplate his own mortality. We, ourselves, begin life as vulnerable infants, taking nurture from our mothers and fathers, but we are, like the mountain, worn down by time, and by the journeys we make in life. but, like the mountain, we never end, and it is in the face of the mountain that we find that we, too, are immortal. The mountain helps us to get in touch with our Self, and our souls.

James Hillman (1976) talks about the mountains and the soul, and says:

"We are in this room because we are moderns, in search of a soul, as Jung once put it. We are still in search of reconstituting that third place, that intermediate realm of psyche -- which is also the realm of images and the power of imagination -- from which we were exiled by theological spiritual men more than a thousand years ago; long before Descartes and the dichotomies of attributed to him, long before the Enlightenment and modern positivism and scientism. These ancient historical events are responsible for the malnourished root of our Western psychological culture and of the culture of each of our souls (p. 114-115)."Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Essay on Psyche and Nature Assignment

Hillman is talking about the councils of Nicea in 787 and the council at Constantinople in 869. The decisions made at those councils, Hillman believes, alienated mankind one from another, when the message that they should have been focused on was uniting humanity. They confused the soul with spirit, Hillman says. Hillman believes that historical religion has confined the psyche and imagination, when it should be allowed to roam free, far and wide. That the myths of the past that describe the peaks and valleys through which man must climb and walk through, and which give rise to the connection that we make between ourselves and that which is the gift of the world around us, especially the mountains, become obstacles to mortal man, instead of the miracles which prompt images, imagined adventures, and the peaks above which the soul of all mankind must fly in order to be free in spirit, mind, and soul.

As I contemplate my own journey through the mountains not long ago and as I crossed the man-made barbed wire -- I realized that these barbed wire fences were indeed manmade, and stood in contrast to the nature of the mountain. The obstacles that we create for ourselves that limit our imaginations and psyche ability to stand as souls joined in the flesh are manmade constructs that imprison us. But we can go over them, around them, or we can snip them with wire cutters and free our souls to soar with our spirit. We can bring together again those parts of us that have been segmented by the dictates of the lives, religion, and cultures into which we were born that keep us psychologically separated as a species.

Hillman says that the separation of our souls and spirit manifests itself in ways that reflect the entrapment of the human mind and soul. We act out, we become histrionic, and it is a cry for help, to set free the imagination so that it might soar above the peaks of the mountains.

As my brother and I trekked through the mountains together, and as we faced the manmade fence, he said to me, "No, don't cross it. We have already gone through enough barbed wiring in our lives," referring to past discrimination at work and abuse. But even as I turned away from the barbed wire, my imagination wandered beyond it, to the other side of the mountain where stood tall and strange looking white wild flowers growing from stalks of thick green leaves. This, too, I thought to myself, is where my brother and I have come in our lives. He was willing to avoid that which beckoned me, because it was too painful to cross yet another barbed wire fence. I, on the other hand, felt the beckoning of that which lay beyond the fence, and I saw a way through the fence; but I relented, because I walked with my brother on this particular journey, and he was not ready to cross the fence. His soul had not healed, his spirit was still entrapped by other fences, and he lacked the spirit in that moment to confront yet another. Some journeys through the mountains we make alone, and others we take together, but when we walk together, we must be cognizant of the frailties of those with whom we walk.

Betsy Perluss (2008) cites Thomas Vaughn's Allegory of the Mountain (1651). Vaughn wrote:

"The mountain is situated in the midst of the earth or center of the world, which is both small and great. It is soft, also above measure hard and stony. It is far off and near at hand, but by the providence of God invisible. In it are hidden the most ample treasures, which the world is not able to value (Perluss quoting Vaugh 2008, 87)."

Vaughn's comments, and Perluss' article, are about individualism. We are mountains, sometimes in touch with ourselves and others, and other times distant, far away. We are puzzles by nature, that which is hidden from us, within us, we can appreciate when it manifests itself in treasure troves, but at other times, when it manifests itself as the darkness that lurks within us, it is frightening. Perluss says of Vaughn's comments:

"On the other hand, it is no mystery why Vaughn chose the mountain for his allegory. Simply by their verticality, height, and inaccessibility, mountains evoke fear and awe (p. 90)."

We need to experience the fear of majesty as much as we need to experience the awe of it. Between the two exists the expansive range of humanity: emotions, thought, spirit, and our souls. The mountains bring us to the peaks, the valleys, and the cliffs of our own existence. As we stand in the shade of the mountain wall, it is cold; but when we step away from the wall and stand in the sun, it is warmth, and that warmth can become an intense heat, just as do our emotions as we experience them. There is healing in the mountain, but we must measure the healing lest we become burnt by its illumination. This is the alchemy that was practiced by mysterious and yet great men like Nostradamus and Edgar Caycee. They were men who were so in touch with their spirituality and the nature of the world around them that they gained beautiful, yet at times, frightening insights into the nature of themselves, and mankind as a species. The mystery, Perluss says, will come to us as move through life at our own pace, just as we move through the mountain walk, not too cautious, but not with such abandon as to be unaware of its treacherous and sometimes unstable rocks that spill from the top, down the mountainside.

The mountain walk that I took with my brother was my vision quest. I was at a time and place where I needed to illuminate my own inner self, my psyche, so that it might be revealed to me where I had come from, where I was, and where I would go in this mortal life, and, then, into the immortal existence of the beyond life. It is the mystery of that which rests within us, unexplored, that can only be revealed to us through the vision quest (Plotkin, 2003).

Plotkin says:

"Visionary experience springs from dichotomies that at first seem irreconcilable. There is desire and despair -- the desire to commune with the soul, the despair born of soul estrangement. There is attraction and repulsion -- attraction to the rich realm of the dark, repulsion from its monsters and demons (**)."

As we practice prudence in moving through the landscape of the mountain, we prepare ourselves to confront the monsters and the demons. We understand the attraction and the repulsions of life's mysteries. We can stand atop the mountain top at night, and it is surreal. Our heads are in the stars of the universe, and for that time, we have the knowledge of all that has come and gone before us, and the knowledge of that which will come and go after us. Yet we can find no words to express this knowledge, and it torments us, but at the same time we find peace within it. It is difficult to extract ourselves from it, because the knowledge feeds the soul in the same way that the sustenance feeds the body. We are forever longing to leave the body, to soar above and beyond the mountains weightlessly, but… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Psyche and Nature" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Psyche and Nature.  (2010, May 3).  Retrieved February 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Psyche and Nature."  3 May 2010.  Web.  25 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Psyche and Nature."  May 3, 2010.  Accessed February 25, 2021.