Dancing with Bastian, Artist’s Book (detail) TH1998

There is a short, paperback book of one hundred and eight pages that every so often – when the need is great – I take off of my shelf and re-read.  Every time I do, there is something from it that speaks to the moment – this moment – addressing the confusion or stress or void in my life. How do I know to do this? Because I trust the author’s experience and the words she shares with me through her experience – dated as it is. This book of worn and weathered; the spine is cracked and in areas, ripped; pages are yellowing and becoming unglued. Yet, I cannot replace it with a current edition. For as important as the author’s words are, so too are my notations and underlining. It is  historical documentation on my psychology. Inscribed by my sister to me, “Happy birthday and happy wandering,” I have read it and re-read it countless time since I received it back in the 1980s.

In her small and powerful book, The Tao of Psychology, Dr. Jean Shinoda  Bolen includes a substantive quote from Dr. Carl Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis (p 419-420) which I must share with you, as it is my point of reference this year:

“There was a great drought. For months there had not been a  drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic.  The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers and the Chinese burned joss-sticks, and shot off gins to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result.  Finally the Chinese said,’We will fetch the rainmaker.;  And from another province as fried-up old man appeared.  The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days.  On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rainmaker that Richard Wihelm went to ask the man how he did it. In true European fashion he said, ‘They call you the rainmaker, will you tell me how you made it snow?’  And the little Chineseman said “I did not make the snow, I am not responsible.’  ‘But what have you done these three days?’  ‘Oh, I can explain that.  I come from another country where things are in order.  Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven.  Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country.  So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came.’ (p 98)”

Where I live, it had not rained for more than a month. The garden was dry despite my dragging around the hose every evening with my futile attempt to refresh the plants I so love. It is weather I hate, and also accentuated the situation at work where I was feeling “stuck.” That night I opened this book to continue reading, and when I came across this passage I all but cried – it affirmed my conflicted feelings about my job. I could finally breathe; as I did, I kid you not, it began to rain.

Bolen, Jean Shinoda. The Tao of Psychology.  San Francisco: HarperRow, 1979. Print


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