I have always lived by stories. I wither without them. Myths, legends, fairy tales, novels, short stories, poems, plays, films, all kinds of narratives: they are my daily sustenance. My mind can only be opened and activated by storytellers. I discovered that a long time ago. Scientific publications or various psychological textbooks that I had to read at university inevitably caused severe drowsiness. But when I discovered the ripping yarns spun by C.G. Jung I knew that I had finally found an author who knows that the deepest truths about the human psyche cannot be neatly presented by means of graphs, tables or bullet points. The mysterious story of being human cannot be told with ordinary words.
The first storytellers told their stories by the fire. If you agree that the most successful storytellers are able to create images in the reader’s/listener’s mind, the symbolic meaning of sitting by the fire while opening your hearts to stories becomes apparent. Fire is a symbol of our spirit, our inner light. Keeping the fire burning means keeping the Spirit alive. The fire is like the Sun in an astrological chart: the raw impulse of life, which vivifies us into existence. As Steven Forrest wrote, the Sun plays a hyperintense beam of self-awareness over us. Fire gives us vision, it connects us directly with the spiritual source, which is the realm of perennial images (archetypes). Imagination is a matter of fire. Looking into fire is a transcendent experience.
Fire is also a transformative agent. It can be destructive if it gets out of hand. A powerful story can burn through our egos and show us much wider vistas of consciousness. Stories told by the fire have always been told to guide people in the life of the spirit and to teach them about the deepest mysteries of life. Sure, amusement was also a part of it, but not the main purpose.
The first and original stories were myths. How did myths develop? In Myths of the Ancient Greeks, Richard P. Martin says that it is important to realize that the Greek word muthos originally referred to an act of speaking and it could be translated as “word” or “story”. In Homeric epics muthos meant words which demanded action or commanded respect. This information struck me because I remembered that Jung also emphasized that if archetypes speak to us they do it in a commanding, lofty tone with a powerful voice that cannot be ignored. The muthos kind of speech referred to a distant past, the grand exploits that could not be questioned or disproved. They were set in stone as examples to follow. Similarly, archetypes have remained unchanged since the beginning of time. Cultural symbols may come and go but their archetypal background remains constant.
What drew me to astrology in the first place was precisely this possibility of finding a story or a set of stories that would describe an individual life. A list of psychological traits is a dead entity, anyone and everyone could relate to it, but if an individual finds his or her story he can literally feel fire lighting up in his soul. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, C.G. Jung described trauma as an untold story:
In many cases in psychiatry, the patient who comes to us has a story that is not told, and which as a rule no one knows of. To my mind, therapy only really begins after the investigation of that wholly personal story. It is the patient’s secret, the rock against which he is shattered.
I think the gift of Jungian therapy is being able to see how our personal stories, real events that happen in our lives, are related to the archetypal realm of myth. There are two ways of finding our own mythical story. The first is through listening to stories, reading books or watching films, the other through astrology. These two ways are not mutually exclusive. Watching planets in transit to our chart tells us which myths are knocking on our doors right now, analyzing the birth chart gives an insight into the archetypal blueprint of our soul.
The Internet makes it easier to share our personal stories. Our tribe has got quite larger since the ancient times. In his book The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall say that humans have always been addicted to the witchy power of Neverland. Some grown-ups grow out of stories. I never did.