Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spiral Maze


The spiral maze kept wanting to be drawn.

After I made the drawing, it felt like an image of high anxiety, of something dark and foreboding ominously hanging over the landscape.

An exact year after the heart attack, I consulted with psychotherapist James Nourse, another kind person helping me on my way. Of all the drawings I showed him, he was particularly struck by this one: he said he had seen similar images that were indicative of shamanic initiation experiences.

I was not particularly interested in having shamanic experiences; this seemed like another New Age fad, like walking labyrinths. I just wanted to get over the trauma and get back to normal.

Initiation experiences (which those shamans necessarily go through) always involve suffering; this was something I had no choice about, in the same way that anyone who is traumatized has no choice but to experience and re-experience over and over again what has happened to them.

The spiral maze is an image of the shaman’s path into the “other world”, a path that shows the way in and the way out. Trauma also throws one into another world, an internal world of fear and despair.
The spiral labyrinth is one of the oldest of symbols; it depicts the way to the unknown center of death and rebirth, the risk of the search, the danger of losing the way, the quest, the finding and the ability to return.

Edmond Whitmont, The Symbolic Quest

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