‘A psyche the size of Earth.’ I love that image. It’s the title of an essay by James Hillman, the greatest of influences on my own psychological practice, which introduced the collection of articles Theodore Roszak, Allen Kanner and Mary Gomez collated for their book Ecopsychology back in 1995. Hillman, I think, did more than anyone to try to remind people that this world, these lives we live, aren’t all about us. It’s a message I passionately believe in. We think we make them up, the stories, the dreams. Well, maybe they make us up. For sure, they have an existence that’s independent of us. We think psyche is in us, Hillman said – but actually, we’re in psyche. The great, beautiful soul of this glowing, animate world.
A month ago, I embarked on my first trip to America in eleven years, for a series of teaching and lecturing engagements. Those of you who are readers of my books will know that I lived in the USA for over five years, leaving at the end of 2001. And it was a strange thing, to think of being back after so long in a country which I once thought of as home – but which, over the years since I’d left, had become utterly incomprehensible to me. 3135
It’s been an interesting time to spend two and a half weeks in the USA – though of course it’s hard to find a time that isn’t interesting in one way or another these days. On this occasion, as I was travelling the country telling the old Celtic story of the Rape of the Well-Maidens, yet another smug, privileged politician was being accused of sexual abuse, whilst his (male-dominated) establishment protected him, and the only recourse women had was to fall back on rage again.
For the past fifteen years I’ve lived in locations haunted by herons. My character Old Crane Woman (who I wrote about in The Enchanted Life, and whose stories you can find under this blog in the posts labelled ‘Grey Heron Nights’) sprang from one of those haunted places: a river in Donegal which was home to a particularly fine heronry, on the banks of which I lived for three years. 3120