irene.htm ~~

[ Our individual psyche is very like a garden ]

A Feminine Psychology
by Irene Claremont de Castillejo

ISBN 0 340 16515 4 May 1967

see: dgpeople.htm (dice george's people webpage)

Irene Claremont de Castilljo wrote "Knowing Woman- A Feminine Psychology" . It's one of my favourite books - I can't think of any book I'd put above it, I often pull it from the shelf and show people where she says something that describes and illuminates something they were grasping towards - like there's one bit where she says you dont fully understand something until you can say it in your own words. That's where she explains that she won't use Jungian technical terms much. S

She studied with Dr Carl Jung's wife .

She also wrote "I married a Stranger" and "Freedom of the City (poems), but I haven't seen them .

She wrote "Knowing Woman!" In May 1967, after 20 years as a Jungian analyst.

The Jungians say that A woman has a male subconscious, whereas we males have a male, rational consciousness, and a female intuitive subconscious.
(actually they use the word "unconscious" not "subconscious", I'm using my words as I understand them and use them

On or around Monday March 2000 I posted the following review to

Often in crises and moral dilemmas I go get my copy and read a paragraph which shines her light of wisdom on the situation, the boy who fearless runs on a mountain edge with the inner balance and confidence, Jesus's channelling anger in the temple with the moneylenders.. like there's one bit where she says you dont fully understand something until you can say it in your own words. That's where she explains that she won't use Jungian technical terms much. I remember I had a huge argument with Susana in the Rainbow Centre and reading this book helped me find a way out of the hole I'd dug myself in with my rational logic.

On the second page of the first chapter (Meeting') she writes: "I have never forgotten the smile of a bus conductor as I alighted from a bus at the age of twenty. It was a smile shared. We never saw one another again, nor needed to, but for a few seconds we really met. I have written a little poem about it:

A million footprints On solitary sand Are washed away, Yet the fragrance of a smile Between a bus conductor And a girl alighting Has lingered in the air Full forty years.

Even in as brief a meeting as that, some infinitesimal but indestructible thing has been added to the whole atmosphere.

This something which springs into being at every real meeting is not identical with sympathy...

and so on and so on - perhaps I'll copy it all into the computer and stick it up the web.. I don't know about copyright, it'd be a better use of my time than typing in 90% of the blurbalage that I do.... anyway, to get back to the plot, irene's book, fast forward to the bit I quote most, it's about anger,


she says that Jesus got angry when he overturned the moneylenders table in the temple in that famous bible story - and he's the one the Christians tell us is the most perfect human ever, and he got angry, so anger is not, of itself, 100% bad, , he was 'channelling' it, using the energy of anger positively, tipping up the tables, it's when we repress and suppress and hide away and deny such strong powerful 'emotions', ideas, urges, that bad happens, if you suppress and deny such raw animal urges and push them into your subconscious then like a coiled spring they'll burst out on you at the worst time and do you in...

(again these are my words, not hers, that's her gist,...)


If we realise that on the whole the basic masculine attitude to life is that of focus, division and change; and the feminine (in either sex) is more nearly an attitude of acceptance, an awareness of the unity of all life and a readiness for relationship, then we can accept a rough division of the psyche into masculine and feminine. But today, when masculine and feminine characteristics are so interwoven in people of both sexes, it may be clearer to speak of 'focused consciousness' on the one hand and 'diffuse awareness' on the other, knowing that these qualities belong to both men and women in varying degrees.

page23: The growing deafness, or rather inability to listen, of the adult in the course of specialization, certainly meets us at every turn. People who are materially orientated are unable often to hear words that were meaningful to them as children. As an extreme example, many children seem capable of hearing overtones in the word God which will be wholly repudiated by them at a later age. So much so that if anyone talks to them as adults about God they cease to listen. Others continue to hear overtones of increasing richness in the word God. Communication between these two groups then becomes impossible.

page28: We tend too much to level down. Christ would have fared badly had he lived today. He might so easily, in his agony, have found his way to a mental hospital and been rendered fit to keep a normal job. The Romans did better when they crucified his body. They did not diminish, they enhanced his spiritual power.

Psychologists have inadvertently side-slipped into this dreary passion for normality. But I am not so sure that to be balanced is necessarily a virtue. Some urgent inner problem or some imbalance may actually improve the impetus for dealing with outer wrongs. The rebel who is stirred to action by injustice or cruelty to others may well have himself suffered from an inner tyrant which bullies him. Most geniuses in whatever field are, to ordinary eyes, more than a little mad. The heavy prices some artists have to pay for their unusual insight may be lack of balance. The world would have been a poorer place without Van Gogh. The trouble is that psychologists believe they can see and explain the patterns of behaviour. On certain levels maybe they can, but let us never forget the unique unknowableness of every individual soul. Psychological thinking has seeped through into ordinary life, and it is easy to explain a situation by some psychological slogan - yet the inner meaning may lie in a very different place.

page38: Puer Aeturnus is the name given to those many young men today who seem overly endowed and inspired as youths, yet do not grow into what is normally considered responsible adult citizens. They remain at heart, and often in behaviour, eternally young. They may be artists, poets, airmen, scientists or 'angry young men'. Their main characteristic is that one feels that they are permeated with and activated by some spirit of an outstanding quality. We have all met them and easily recognise them in our midst. They have their counterpart among young women also. Hitherto.... The apparent increasing number of these young men and women today is evidence of an inner happening. Organized religion has become fossilized, which inhibits the spiritual transformation necessary to keep pace with man's development. The fossilization of religion goes hand in hand with the police state. The archetype of spiritual renewal is finding its way not within the churches but through the individual young men and women of whom I am speaking. They are the channels along which a new spiritual awareness is trying to break through. They are in fact activated and possessed by the archetype of spiritual renewal. Their danger is that they do not always know what has got into them and may identify with the archetype itself. They then think they have the monopoly of this new spiritual awareness, often believing themselves to be prophets or saviours. To be identified with an archetype is one of man's most common but most acute perils, and it is not unusual for these inspired youths to break down and land in mental hospitals. In these cases evil has crept in through the fourth function. Not through its dynamism, as with the neo-Fascists, but through its almost total lack. Reality sense is absent. If only these people could understand that they are being used by the archetype of renewal, as we all are in any moment of inspiration, but that it is essential to avoid identifying with it, many personal catastrophes might be avoided. Indeed holding fast to their own individual intuitive gifts, at the same time as they keep their feet on the ground of reality, is a spiritual achievement of unique service to mankind. By so doing within themselves the new spiritual awakening has a chance of filtering through to mankind as a whole.

Page40: [ANGER]

It may sometimes be wisdom to use one's shadow deliberately. ... Christ vented his anger on the moneylenders in the temple. He knew what he was doing. We also need to know what we are doing, as it is only when our shadow comes up unbeknown that it causes mischief. Hardness of heart is another shadow quality, and the people who are hard in life without knowing and without intention may cause much misery for others and themselves. Yet there are moments when use of one's hard, unyielding shadow is the one thing necessary to save the situation. We need at times to use our shadow, but never to be its victim. It is only if we are truly centered that we can be trusted to use our shadow qualities spontaneously in the right time and place. 'When the wrong man does the right thing it will turn out wrong' says the Chinese saying, 'and when the right man does the wrong thing it will turn out right.' To be the right man requires more than consciousness. It requires to be centred. ... ... How many men have been hanged for murder because they were the weak recipients of the murderous shadow of the whole race? There would be fewer murders if we could all acknowledge within ourselves how easy it would be for anyone of us to kill. In wartime we explain our brutality some other way. In peacetime we forget and some man or woman slightly weaker than the rest is hanged virtually for us. I will write at greater length of woman's bright shadow in another chapter, but I cannot close this one without speaking of woman's direst and most destructive shadow. The witch is chiefly woman's responsibility. All women who have not totally lost contact with the unconscious are in touch with power. Power is not necessarily bad. Its direction is what makes it good or bad.

page46 [DELINQUENTS] Our delinquents, of whom society complains so bitterly and so complacently, are the failed heroes - the ones who tried and couldn't find the right channel. Better rob a train than be a nobody. Better prove one's prowess in a gang war that remain an anonymous fool. Even rapes and murders surely have their original impulse in the need to be a hero

This hero impulse in man needs to be better understood, if we are not to make serious mistakes".

Page47: [FEAR] I have seen even children training themselves to face danger. On the dark landing at the top of my stairs in Spain, my children used to imagine a lion lurking under a settee, and I watched the genuine terror on their faces as they ran downstairs to the lighted hall. But no sooner had they reached safety than they crept upstairs to taunt the lion all over again. They needed to face fear.

Page54: Women have permeated man's world, but, instead of regenerating it, they seem to have contaminated it with their own pettiness of outlook, with the sublime indifference of a tree which is concerned with its own growth, and its own acorns, caring nothing, for it knows nothing, of the forest as a whole

Page55 Unfortunately, most women to not realize how little they express their true selves. They talk in slogans, adopt man's principles without his flexibility, and fight man's causes without man's charity. There is nothing so ruthless as a woman with a cause between her teeth.

Page76: I personally like to think of my helpful animus as a torchbearer: the figure of a man holding aloft his torch to light my way, throwing its beam into dark corners and penetrating the mists which shield the world of half-hidden mystery where, as a woman, I am so very much at home. In a woman's world of shadows and cosmic truths he makes a pool of light as a focus for her eyes, and as she looks she may say, 'Ah yes, that's what I mean,' or 'Oh no, that's not my truth at all.' it is with the help of this torch also that she learns to give form to her ideas. He throws light on the jumble of words hovering beneath the surface of her mind so that she can choose the ones she wants, separates light into the colours of the rainbow for her selection, enables her to see the parts of which her whole is made, to discriminate between this and that. In a word, he enables her to focus.

Page77: Yet woman is not just earth. To be told, as she often is told by psychologists, that man represents the spirit and she the earth, is one of those disconcerting things a woman tries hard to believe, knowing all the time that they are not true; knowing that the pattern provided does not fit, however hard she tries to squeeze herself into it. She is not merely blind nature and life force. She has a spiritual awareness of her own which has little to do with the masculine culture in which we live, and nothing to do with philosophy and cosmologies. If she has succeeded - and not all women succeed - in holding onto her true feminine soul in spite of the weight on her shoulders of the masculine education she is asked to carry, she will dimly recognise her own spiritual awareness, which she is nonetheless wholly unable to express and almost unable even to admit. Her innermost feminine soul is as dumb and as shy as any man's anima. But her awareness is there, diffuse and all-pervading. She can walk in the dark and place her feet as delicately as a cat without any light from her animus' torch.

Page91: When Adam ate the apple and offered him by Eve he was thrown out of Paradise. He had ceased to be an innocent follower of instinctive nature for he had stolen a fragment of God's creativeness. he had stolen the power to choose. ,man had gained the power to obey nature or defy her. man had sinned. No animal can sin as it has no choice. it can only obey the laws of its being. Man alone can sin. And ever since that unfortunate incident of the apple men have felt guilty, and have done their best to make women feel guilty too. Still, in the twentieth century, after the birth of a baby, our Christian Churches demand that a woman be ritually 'cleaned' by the priest, implying that she has sinned. Yet if there is ever a moment in a woman's life when she does not feel sinful it is when she has given birth. If she is truly in touch with her OWN feelings I cannot conceive that anything will ever make her believe that the act which led to the conception of her child could possibly be a sin. The woman with a newborn baby by a man she loves is as nearly in tune with nature as she can ever be, and when we are in tune with nature we feel ourselves to be in a state of grace, not sin.

Page101: Women tend to seek identification with the person whom they love. A woman likes to follow her man and will even change her political ideas or her religion in her attempt to achieve once more that sense of union with another that was hers in the beginning. Even the modern woman who consciously admits a man's right to live his life without accounting for every moment of his day and expects to do the same herself, still wants to share his inmost thoughts and feelings, for that to her is the essence of true relationship. Not so man. For him, separation is inevitable, and it is from his island of separateness that he tries to relate,.. for him the woman's attempts to probe the inmost recesses of his mind feels, consciously or unconsciously, like a threat to engulf him. A woman finds it difficult to understand why he feels threatened. She herself rides the wave so easily. She has never been wholly separated from the water in which she floated at ease within her mother's womb. Man has pulled himself out of the unconscious matrix with the effort of thousands of years. But his rational supremacy is somewhat precarious and he rightly fears to be submerged again. So, as often as not, he avoids emotion and teaches his womenfolk to do likewise. A man does not understand that a show of emotion on the part of a woman does not have the devastating effect on her that it has on him. Women are most at home when ankle-deep in the unconscious. They can handle emotions. For them a burst of anger clears the air, and a flood of tears is the storm which release thunderous tension and leaves them calm. The woman, who, in her desire for identification with her man, represses emotions as he has done, deprives not only herself but him as well.

page118: I find it easier to think of love as being present than to talk of loving. It fits better with my belief that love happens and cannot be taught or learned. It is a monstrous conceit to think we can teach a little child how to love. He knows. He knows far better than we disillusioned grown-ups. Even in the transient trustful smile a baby will give a stranger, something lights up and the stranger will go on his way feeling more vital and more at ease with himself. Was that not love? I think perhaps it was. But it didn't stay. The stranger and the baby met for a moment and parted. They had no further concern with one another.

Page 119: Some years ago I heard Michael Fordham give a lecture that I have never forgotten in which he spoke of the reciprocal roles of parents and children. he said that little children, who are beginning to emerge from the sea of the unconscious, need their parents to be strong, firm breakwaters in order to prevent the ever menacing sea from inundating them again. And in exchange the child, by his strangely wise words and his unpredictable behaviour, can be a link between his adult parents and the unconscious from which they have themselves broken away; if only they will listen to him and notice what he does. But this denotes a constantly changing situation. As the child grows, linking up the tiny islands of consciousness till finally he is standing on a sizeable piece of land with an ego of his own, the need for his parents' breakwater becomes less and less. So also, as he withdraws himself from the enveloping sea, sill his words and actions have less contact with the collective wisdom of the unconscious, and be less in harmony with his own instincts or the psychic situation of his father and mother, and so he will be less and less of a link between the unconscious and his parents. The attitude of parents to children must be changing all the time to meet this fluid situation, if some situation is not to arise which drives love out.

page121 If a woman prays for her son's welfare she may actually divert his fate. Things may even apparently go better with him. He may refrain from marrying the undesirable girl or making some apparently fatal mistake. And yet we know so little of the pattern that belongs to us, or to those for whom we are concerned, that our very intervention, though it be by heartfelt prayer, may be damaging. I suspect that this type of insidious intervention through the unconscious is more potent and far more dangerous than the visible interferences from which one can protect oneself. The good faith in which it is made does not guarantee its freedom from poison. The apparently undesirable girl may be the right one. Some disastrous mistake from which the fond mother tries to save her son may be the very mistake he needs to make

Page122: Duty and love are miles apart.


Please note I have used the word need, not want or desire. We may want things we do not need, and we are often unaware of our deepest needs.

page124: ????

From: "" [[]]
To: [[]]
Cc: [[]]
Subject: [dicenews] Our individual psyche is very like a garden
Date: 13 2002 July 13 19:34

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Rainbow Circle Psyche Camp
31july-8august 2002 
Irene Claremont de  Castillejo
Knowing Woman
Our individual psyche is very like a garden . The kind of garden  
will be determined by the nature of the soil, whether it is on a
mountain slope or in a fertile valley. It will depend upon the
climate. Green  lawns flourish in  England. In parts of Spain to sow
a lawn is to make a present to the wind, for literally the seed is
blown  away.

Climate and geology are powers beyond our altering. They are
the conditions we have been given to make the most of it, and for
some the task is immensely harder than it is for others. The slopes
of arid hills in Spain  are a marvel of man's endeavor. Every inch
is terraced with little walls of stones so that not a drop of the rare
precious rain  shall be lost in tumbling streams but held for the
thirsty vines and olive trees. All honour to such gardeners. Some of
us dwell in more temperate climes where the task is not so hard,
but any gardener will know the unceasing vigilance which is
need to tend a garden, wherever it may be. Weeds are never
eradicated once for all.

So, too, our psyches. They also  can be invaded by pests from
other gardens  which have been   neglected, making it harder  to
maintain the health of ours. Indeed, to maintain our psyche or our
garden free of pests is a responsibility to our  neighbours as well as
to ourselves. Some gardens are more formal than others.  Some
have corners deliberately left wild, but a garden with not form and
 no order is  not a garden but a wilderness.

The psyche which is a total wilderness ends in the asylum or
burdens its family with unhealthy emanations. The well-tended
but over conventional garden, on the other hand, may have no
stamp of individuality upon  it. It expresses the psyche of the mass
ma n, and suburbia is full of them. The garden which is tended
with care yet is not quite like any other garden, for it conveys the
atmosphere of its owner, is like the psyche of an  individual who
has become a mature personality from  where the scent of
honeysuckle and roses and wild thyme will perfume the air for all around.

But gardens cannot grow without earth, and the loveliest
flowers thrive on  soil that is well manured and black. Dirt has been
defined as matter in  the wrong place. manure is not dirt when  dug
into the borders. And rich  emotional living in the right places is as
indispensable for the flowering of wisdom in  old age as the purity
of the air and the brilliant sunlight of consciousness. No flower and
 no wisdom was ever reared on a ground of shiny white tiles washed 
daily with antiseptic.

It s the older person , Whether man or woman, who has the
 need and obligation  to tend the garden  of the psyche. The
young are generally too immersed in  active living; study, work,
careers, and bringing up a family absorb all their energies. Indeed,
a too early absorption with their own  psyche may be an actual
poison  for the young. It may deprive them of the  natural spontaneity
which is  needed for living. Actual experience can never  be
replaced by thinking about life or examining inner motives. To be
ever conscious of the possible hazards before us snatches away our
power to leap. We can only live fully by risking our lives over an
over again.

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