The quote above has always been so beautiful to me that I wanted to meditate on it for a moment, take a look into the depths of these waters. Perhaps he speaks of what storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes * called "Rio Abajo Rio, the river beneath the river of the world". Perhaps "El Rio" is also what Jung called the Collective Unconscious, I don't know. But Estes' speaks of the great River of Story, the universal waters flowing beneath the surfaces of all things.
"Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. "
Norman MacLean, "A River Runs Through It"
In her wonderful book Women Who Run With the Wolves *** she writes,
"Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayer making, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them."*
Having just finished my workshop sponsored by the Southern Arizona Friends of Jung, I'm always amazed at what happens when people enter the magic circle, the liminal zone outside of the mundane world, where it is possible to speak to the Goddesses and Gods, where the masks can tell their hidden stories. Whether tapping, if only briefly, the wellsprings of El Rio in grief, creativity, meditation, or through the sudden psychic upwelling that can happen when the so-called ego cracks and splinters, it is always a blessing when the waters are revealed, for they remind us of the greater life.
If the river of story has a voice, it's a voice that contains all voices, human and planetary, and the song it sings may be Om, may be "Nameste", I am Thou. Thus, Estes, who is a Jungian psychologist, believes that to simply experience this great river of being is not enough; one must also instinctively participate in some way, find some way to open a pathway, a well spring, for others.
"...[W]hat Jung called 'the moral obligation' to live out and to express what one has learned in the descent or ascent to the wild Self. This moral obligation he speaks of means to live what we perceive, be it found in the psychic Elysian fields, the isles of the dead, the bone deserts of the psyche, the face of the mountain, the rock of the sea, the lush underworld - anyplace where La Que Sabe breathes upon us, changing us. Our work is to show we have been breathed upon - to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowings, from body, from dreams and journeys of all sorts."
I respectfully submit that this is so for any creative person, this is the work of the SEER, residing within each of us. The River beneath the River of the World.
* (p.30, below)
** (p.96, below)
*** Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Hardcover, 560 pages, Random House Publishing Group, 1992
**** I find I've been pulling out these drawings that I did while living in Berkeley in the 70's. Maybe, my desire to renew this aquaintance with my younger self is also an effort to see the River that runs through it.........sometimes, in looking at old work, one can be amazed to see the same storyline...........