This essay will basically explore three statements: First, We live in the imagination. Second, this imagi-nation, a nation of images, arises from the autonomy of the image. And thirdly, the place where this image-magic is finding place, is, quite simply, the air.

Taken together these three have the potential, I propose, to transform our relationships to art, the earth, the climate and to each other. It invokes a fundamental shift of worldview.

Let’s set the stage with three situations.

A client is in the studio. Paint meets canvas in kind of dance; a hesitant brushstroke down here, then a fierce on the left side. The marks left by the brush make the dark blue area encroach onto the yellow. She stands back and looks at the image. After yet another look she discovers something new now present in the image: a running dog seems to be breaking through in some ragged lines over there where the brush has just been. No doubt – it is a dog, she exclaims, surprised.

How come that this dog has appeared with the image? Where exactly is the image emerging? Is it in her mind, is it on the canvas, is it in the relation between the two, or is it in a distinct imaginal or spiritual realm that somehow decided that the dog could now enter through her unintentional brushstrokes?

When entering a Norwegian forest on a December afternoon, snowflakes start drifting erratically past my shoulders. A few meet with – and tickle – the tip of my nose. As I move along the path further away from the road, I suddenly notice how both the proximate and the distant trees move when I move. For every step I take, they seem to adjust themselves accordingly. Those farther away move slower while those closer to me, pass me more quickly. They seem to hurry past me too, mirroring my own stride. Some call this phenomenon for parallax: the shifting set of relations between such fellow upright beings in the world as the trees and myself. I feel it’s an everyday piece of magic the trees are performing as I advance along the path. How can they all adjust themselves to my every move, even my hardly noticeable up-and-down-movement as my feet lift my body a little before letting me down again? The forest is presenting me with an ever moving image of itself that seems to participate and respond to my movements.

A friend and I followed once followed a stream uphill towards the mountain. At a bend of the stream, a ravine breaks off to the left. The upper end of the ravine opens up to some old-growth forest. It was late afternoon and dusk had just set in. Our conversation while walking had covered familiar ground. But suddenly, when looking into the green-grayish depths of the opening between huge trunks, he asks: Have you ever seen a troll? I’m somewhat at loss to answer as yes and no both seem equally inappropriate. I’ve certainly met trolls, but maybe not with the exact same palpable properties as the impressively huge and darkly silent pine trees we just passed.

These situations present us with a few select images and my question is how we understand and frame our relationship with them. What is the attitude to images that is basic to the expressive arts? How can it be expanded and drawn further?

In our field, the work is primarily with images. But if we say that we work with images – what exactly do we mean by that? Somehow, there are images “in” sounds, movements, words, pigments and dramatic acts. But where is the image to which we relate? How do the images work their magic? Is the image something that is on the canvas and then shining out from it? Is it in the eye of the beholder? In drama, is it something that is radiating from the stage towards the audience? In music, is it in the temporally moving tones of the melody-line, or in the vertical immediate timbre of the flute?
An outline of the modern view on the image

The conventional, modern conception is that I see an image on the canvas with my eyes’ receptive retina. The canvas itself is woven fiber tainted with pigment. It may be the physical source, but it is not the image itself. This is because the image arises in the brain’s processing of the perception. I may similarly hear an image in the temporal vibrations picked up by the cochlea in my ear. I visualize an image with the help of associations from the words in a poem. I perceive an image of the trees standing erect in front of my face.

Some people can see a dog in a painting that others don’t. Some people see a troll in the deep forest that others don’t. This is, according to the modern view, because the first are projecting an mental image onto the canvas or forest, while the latter are rational. The latter withhold their projection, first, because trolls don’t exist, and, second, if you see a dog or troll in the canvas then that is because you yourself have constructed it in that way when your mind processes the impression from the canvas.

Sometimes we hear at school or in group work the exhortation: use your imagination! In this language game, this modern mode of speaking, the images are made by one’s mental faculty of imagination when encountering art, dream or nature. Working with imagination means we access the resources that lie dormant in the human mind to be creative. We work our images onto the world when we express ourselves. Matter becomes passively shaped after our intentions, conscious and unconscious. According to the modern approach, imagination is classified as a function of the human mind, and does not belong to animals, plants or things.

This train of thought has neuroscience as its final terminal. It is in the brain’s neurons that things are really happening, according to the modern view. I’m a psychologist educated in the academic research world. So I should probably accept this. But, every time I read a neuropsychological explanation about which part of our brain that is ”responsible” for recognizing the features of a face, which part is actively making us hear music, or how the brain’s mirror neurons make it possible to relate to others with empathy, I become sad, frustrated or both. Why? Because the premises of this modern type of thinking are all turned inside-out and last things first. This frustrates me philosophically and epistemologically. And, I get sad because I recognize what a major task it is to shift minds to even want to come out of the very abstract, asensual concepts of synapses and dopamine, leave all that, and come home to the sensual magic of the common World in which our daily lives play themselves out.

The alternative to the modern position is, then, it’s exact opposite: The imagination is not made inside us, as if conjured up, or secreted from, our brain. Rather our brain, our whole bodies – from bones to balls – are wholly and fully inside the imagination of the world. Hence, the image is not something that I or my brain somehow make up inside of my skull when I gaze at the canvas or walk in the forest. Rather I, you, everybody are inside the psychic images. No doubt that the brain – and my whole body – is highly active while participating in the image. But it is not alone in constructing it. Of the two of us – the image and me – the image is the most extensive and comprehensive. This is the position that the remainder of the essay will explore.

The South African Bushman-friend and explorer, Laurens van der Post, has a vivid description that sets up the contrast beautifully:

From the ridge where we seated ourselves we had an immense view of the desert. In that light it looked in terms of earth what the sea is in terms of water – without permanent form and without end… When one has lived as close to nature for as long as we had done, one is not tempted to commit the metropolitan error of assuming that the sun rises and sets, the day burns out and the night falls, in a world outside oneself. These are great and reciprocal events … I was convinced that, just as the evening was happening in us, so were we in it, and the music of our participation in a single overwhelming event was flowing through us.[1]

But is this not complete madness? Is this not a surrender to an animistic, romantic or even psychotic worldview, a highly nonscientific approach? How can such a 180-degree turn be understood in a precise way?
We live in the imagination

To come to grips with this ”Copernican” reversal in our relation to the image, I think a review of Carl Jung’s understanding of the psyche and imagination is an appropriate starting point because, in him, both positions made an uneasy coexistence. Jung called himself repeatedly a phenomenologist, yet the significance of this statement has largely been overlooked.[2]

In view of the modern approach sketched above, imagination is simply one of the faculties of the human mind; there is perception, intellect, feeling, imagination or fantasy etc. Imagination resides in the “right side” of the brain, intellect in the left side (sic). Sometimes Jung, too, is confused and writes about the imagination as a form of psychic interiority. At times he thus seems to side with the modern approach:

It is my mind with its store of images, that gives the world color and sound and that supremely real and rational certainty which I call ’experience’ is, in its most simple form, an exceedingly complicated structure of mental images. Thus there is in a certain sense, nothing that is directly experienced except the mind itself.[3]

Here, a real world out-there seems to be set against the inner world of experience that the mind’s imagination creates. This is certainly not very phenomenological in  the philosophical sense of the word. But the general thrust of Jung’s work is in the direction of a much broader view of psyche and image, as, for instance when he introduces concepts such as psychic reality, the objective psyche and the collective unconscious.

He repeatedly writes of this more expansive psychic reality as primary, as coming before the mind, or the subjective ego consciousness: ”Psyche creates reality every day. The only expression I can use for this is activity is fantasy. Fantasy seems the clearest expression of the psyche.”[4] This making of images that fantasy or imagination does, is what makes the world that we live ”in”: ”The psychic alone has immediate reality”, he says.[5] The psyche, insists Jung, surrounds the human being and is antecedent to her.[6] And yet again: ”Without the psyche there would be no world at all and still less a human world.”[7]

As mentioned, Jung struggled to clarify his thoughts and concepts on this topic his entire life. His probably most eloquent and unequivocal formulation is from his commentary on the Golden Flower: ”The psyche is not any more inside us, than the sea is inside the fish.”[8] This last one is a pretty potent statement: we are all swimming in a sea of psyche – it surrounds us on all sides, but we do not notice it. It reminds me of the Zen story where one fish asks the other; what is this thing they call ’water’, do you believe in it?

Taking all these latter statements as a whole make it seem pretty evident that in contrast to psychoanalysis and cognitive psychology, for Jung, the psyche is not in each of us, but we are in the psyche. And since psyche and image, for Jung are inseparably connected (“image is psyche”[9] ), then imagination becomes the clearest, primary expression of psyche.

In a rigorous phenomenological re-reading of Jung, the South African analyst Roger Brooke,[10] finds strikingly strong parallels between Jung’s expansive concept of psyche and Heidegger’s concepts of Dasein and Being-in-the-World. Dasein is a German word and is sometimes translated as “Being-there”. Heidegger uses the word in place of such terms as subject, ego or the “I think” since for Heidegger these terms forget that someone is always in-the-world, that there is no subject by itself.

Brooke suggest we most coherently can understand psyche as ”the place of experience, and that place is the world in which we live.”[11] Imagination is then, accordingly, the process whereby the wider psyche lets images spontaneously arise as our life world.

This means that the woman painting and being surprised at discovering the dog in the image, is actually participating inside a larger, breathing imagination in which both she and the dog are co-evolving. Whether playing with stones at the beach, building sand-castles, marveling over a tree or painting on the canvas, the experience arises from within this ”active imagination”. She – and we – participate in the larger creativity of the imagination. We don’t have to pull ourselves together to ”be creative” as when we want to claim: I painted that dog. I made up a story about a troll in the forest. Rather, “my” creativity belongs to the larger psyche, the ”objective psyche”, not to the individual subject which Jung calls the ego-consciousness. We encounter these images as something larger-than-me. This lays the foundation for a reverent attitude to the image. They arise from the spontaneous psychic organization of the world in which we are embedded, not solely from within the individual, the cognizing subject itself.

In yet another formulation: In the symbol it is the world itself speaking.[12] It is the world itself speaking through the dog-image, the tree-image or the troll-image. They might not usually speak with human words, but always express themselves eloquently in the vernacular of the world itself: things speak as images.
The magic of images

James Hillman takes his lead from Carl Jung and then carries onward into a distinct domain. Concepts like ego, self and consciousness tend to be left behind, and soul, archetype and imagination are brought forth with an intensified passion.

The concept of image is crucial to this archetypal psychology. In a now classic passage  Hillman writes:

I use the word fantasy-image in the poetic sense, considering images to be the basic givens of psychic life, self-originating, inventive, spontaneous, complete and organized in archetypal patterns. Fantasy-images are both the raw materials and finished products of psyche, and they are the privileged mode of access to knowledge of soul. Nothing is more primary. … Here I am suggesting both a poetic basis of mind and a psychology that starts neither in the … brain, the structure of language, the organization of society, nor the analysis of behavior, but in the processes of the imagination.[13]

It is not the case that things are actual whereas images are fantasized. Images are indeed those things, actual or fantasized, which are revealed in that imaginative light called psyche. It is essential to note that things and images are ontologically identical. Whether actual or fantasized, one is directly present to the thing / image itself, only the mode of presence is different.[14]

Images come and go (as in dreams) at their own will, with their own rhythm, within their own fields of relations, undetermined by personal psychodynamics. The source of images – dream images, fantasy-images, poetic images – is the self-generative activity of the psyche itself. The word ”image”, therefore, does not refer to an after-image, the result of sensations and perceptions, nor does ”image” mean a mental construct that represents in symbolic form certain ideas and feelings which it expresses. In fact, the image has no referent beyond itself, neither proprioceptive, external nor semantic: images dont stand for anything. As Jung said, they are the psyche itself in all its imaginative visibility. As primary datum, image is irreducible.[15]

The magic of images, the ”imagic”, arises from their spontaneous self-determined way of appearing and changing. Whether on canvas, in music, in city buildings or in the meadow, images simply appear. As a gift. A surprise. They arise all at once around us and this happens before we have the chance of interpreting or influencing them. Suddenly they are there. They are autonomous, follow their own rules and logic. Like in the experience of parallax when moving among trees in the forest – the air spontaneously lets all parts be rearranged. If I enter a state of open-mindedness I may notice how they come to me effortlessly.

Images thus seem to have their own mind. The Harry Potter films and novels provide an vivid illustration of the autonomy of images. There, the images on the walls of the magical castle Hogwarths speak to those who pass by and among themselves. They comment on the people passing and what happened in the long past. What fantastic, if allegorical, way of depicting the autonomy of all images.

The strange thing is that images seem to know more than me. The source of their intelligence and magic is, probably, the wider context from which the images arise. They come, as if from a larger intelligence, that I struggle to fathom. But experience has shown – both in therapy and coaching – that to follow the image, instead of forcing one’s own intentions onto the image, usually pays off very well. We then get further together. The image itself seems to contain more than I can imagine. It can contain and carry suffering where I no longer know what to do and fall in despair. It can hold a sense of meaning even when I’m at loss to express what that meaning is.

This is the reason why both archetypal psychology and expressive arts have the rule of thumb: “Stick to the image.”[16] We might try to steer them, control them, guide the imagery according to a recipe, but then, often, we seem to loose their imagic too. When forced to become servants, their wildness dissolves. They cease to surprise us, become more predictable and loose their ability to carry the full weight of the problem.

What, then, is this larger intelligence or spirit that informs the image with such depth and comprehensiveness? How come it moves of its own accord, blows according to its own winds, and stays connected to wider spheres? To what realm does the image belong, and how does it work its magic? From Jung and Hillman we have learnt that the images come from the nation of magic, the imagination. This is a community, a nation, of images that surrounds us every day anew. I believe, that this nation of images is nothing else, and exists nowhere else, than in the thickness of the air itself.

Reading Hillman or Jung, new readers might easily get the notion that they are platonic idealists, talking about an separate realm of image and ideas all by itself, a collective psyche, or imaginal dimension that is only accessible through a special dreamlike sensitivity, maybe even just for a select few. That is a severely restricted reading of them. But nevertheless, I do believe it is high time to ground these concepts even more firmly in the immanent, sensuous immediacy of the lived experience. And what is closer to the senses than Air Himself? What could be more intimate and readily available?

I think it is time we recognize the magic of images as something of a spell that the air casts.[17] We – literally – breathe the imagination. Images arise out of – not thin – but thick, pregnant air. In science we imagine the air filled with in-form-ation; photons, waves of every wavelength, patterns, small winds and far reaching smells. An abundance of forms that the air carries simultaneously. These forms inform me and open up the world around me. By remembering that the air is the pre-requisite of all earthly images, we come closer to our situated existence.

Hillman himself is as close as possible to this realization without making the final step when he talks about smelling the image.[18] He wants us to stick so close to the image as if we were using our nose, our animal sense more than the observing eye, to stay in the vicinity of the image. What wonderful thought, and how stumblingly close to recognizing that the richly smell filled air is itself the matrix of every image we encounter.

Even if I close my eyes, and think of an image from my dream last night, I’m not in any way shut off from the air. The air surrounds and gently holds my body, as well as penetrates deep inside, through lungs and cellular walls to participate as intimately as possible with my body. We could say there is a little breath whirling inside me, just as a much bigger breath swirling around me.

What difference does this remembering of the air make? In this way we can return to a much greater intimacy with the world. My spirit or psyche, both words deriving from breath – is a small part of this bigger breath, this great lung, around me. Besides, I’m always already outside my little self, participating in the world’s imaginings through the air surrounding me. No man an island, indeed, we are all swimming in a thick sea of images, continuously brought forth by the endless creativity of the air itself.
The Great Breath’s own artmaking

One day while writing on this essay, the silent workings of the air made an spectacularly evident display of its creativity. During a few cold, starry winter nights, the air has been playing with condensing droplets, making ice-art from the night’s dew. The air had brought forth a miniature white forest of branching ice-crystals, mimicking the larger boreal forest stretching out in thousands of kilometers from where I now stand. I fall down on my knees in wonder and amazement. One to four centimeter tall, mini-trees, flat as if each was satisfied with two dimensional crystalline layer, but then with a billion other crystal-trees joining in to take other angular positions. Together they form a new layer, an extra cushion on top of the snow, increasing the intimate and intricate interactions between air and earth.

I bend forward, nose all the way down, to better study the myriad details inside one and every of the miniature trees. After a long while, when my curiosity is fully satisfied and the cold has crept into my knees, I walk further into this huge art-work. Then, to add to this overwhelming wonder, and supersede itself, the air starts to play with the winter sun’s low afternoon rays. Some crystals are attached to grass rising above the thin snow layer, and a soft breeze moves them gently. Softly enough for the crystals not to break and fall off. But still enough to make them play more vividly with the light. In this way the whole field, this opening in the forest through which I slowly move turns into a giant light-circus, easily outperforming any spectacle of Christmas lights I’ve ever seen. One million crystals glittering in the sun, and some switch on and off according to the soft movements of the grass. Depending on where I stand or how I move they wink and twinkle to me, with amazingly sharp and pointed signals. Hello, they say, now here, now there. Rays of sunshine jumping from grass to grass so my eyes sees smooth and rapid movement between them – they are playing among themselves, sending light back and forth.

I walk in this living, pulsating, radiating field, a huge image exquisitely crafted in the stillness of the night and then made animatedly alive by the interplay of wind and winter sun in the day. I am not outside this image. I am carnally inside it. Participating with my entire body and particularly intensely through this peculiar, enhanced double sensitivity to the world of light that we call eyes. The air fills the space completely, sets the scene, over some hundred years it lets the trees grow, conjures forth the magnificent crystals with effortless ease during a frosty night, lets the sun in at the appropriate moment, arranges all beings to their right seats, holds around them with a perfectly pressured embrace, reminds the grass to move, and in general hosts the entire spectacle, it seems, out of pure joy.

I’m sure that He [19] didn’t mind a two legged like me participating in it, but, I’m sure too, that Air would have had just as much fun without a two legged walking through it. Esse est percipi, but this surely doesn’t depend on the presence a human perceiver. There are sufficiently sensitive beings all through the field to make up an enthusiastic audience anyway. I’m a foreign guest honored to receive an invitation to the party, to participate in this feast of light that the air’s newborn children, the myriad ice crystals, arrange on this December day rapidly approaching winter solstice.

All this playful art was made because the air felt like playing with ice and water crystals last night. It will all be gone again if it rains tomorrow. A show-off of the air’s boundless creativity, its mastery of imagery, bringing forth and wiping out, the everyday magic of making images. Itself the breeding ground, the fertile field of all conceivable “eairthly” images.

To the modern view the Air is nothing but a mix of gases like Nitrogen, Oxygen, Helium and their now infamous cousins, Carbon dioxide and Methane. It just fills space. It is, in scientific parlance, the atmosphere. It is a complex system that behaves  in unpredictable ways, but can still be modeled. It does not have a mind of its own. In the single vision of science it is not a Person, not our Big Breath. It is not something our psyche participates in, but it is something out-there, beyond us. Our way of relating to it is observation through instruments of measurements. Thus we feel no gratitude to the Air for our very existence, while some even ponder how we can engineer the climate for better control.
Returning to the Air

What Jung calls psyche, Heidegger calls Dasein.[20] Both struggle to articulate and communicate their deep understanding of these fundamentals. In one graceful formulation Heidegger expresses his insight thus:

Man is never first and foremost on the hither side of the world, as a ’subject’, whether this is taken as ’I’ or ’We’. Nor is he ever simply a mere subject which simultaneously is related to objects, so that his essence lies in the subject-object relation. Rather, before all this, man in his essence is ek-sistent into the openness of Being, into the open region that lights the ’between’ within which a ’relation’ of subject to object can ’be’.[21]

I’d like to repeat Heidegger’s last phrase: the open region that lights the between within which a relation can be. Isn’t this a complicated and elaborate if eloquent way of speaking about the Air? I believe that Air is this very Being of openness to light within which any relation of subject to object can be.

Is not the air, quite simply, this invisible presence that makes all earthly presence possible, this invisibility that makes all visibility possible? The air hosts and facilitates all earthly relations. It is this creature of light and sound that makes up all betweens. It is there before any relation of subject to object can be. It was there long before any subject started even to talk or think about objects. It is an open region that receives us and fills us, too, from our first breath unto our last. It surrounds, holds and nourishes our very being. According to ancient Greek mythology, air or sky (Uranus) co-evolved with Gaia, and the two engendered all other beings. The Air is, of course, such an original Being just as Gaia is.

Maybe we need to coin a new phrase for this. Let’s call it the Eairth – the closely intertwined links between earth and sky, ground and world, ocean and clouds, rain and water vapor.[22] The Eairth, then, is this living, creative world that we are fully inside; it is the intermingling of Air with water, clouds and rain, with light and shadow, and with all the heavier things residing on the ground. Letting all these beings come together into the openness, the Eairth continually brings forth hospitable places that my body readily participates in. The images that arise from such meetings of Eairth and body, is what we call psyche. It might be a mystery, a type of magic, how all this spontaneously comes about, but not mystical in the sense of other-worldly or hidden in other dimensions. Even though itself is invisible it is highly palpable: just move your hand quickly through it and feel the flow around your fingers. It is always already here and now.

Jung, Heidegger and Hillman all struggled to make their concepts of psyche, Dasein and imagination understandable and available to a broader public. These concepts have tended to become subject to highly abstract discourse. What they depict seem, to many people, far removed from the sensible realm: For instance, how can there be a collective unconscious? Where does it exist? Is it somehow connected to some properties of the quantum field? Is it in the genes? etc. Such inquiries quickly lead us astray in metaphysical or scientistic speculation, away from the actual presence of the unique image.

What I propose is that Eairth is a closer, more sens-ible, in the sense of easier to sense, concept. It is about recognizing the agency of the ”ordinary” Air at a concrete and immanent level. The Greek root of psyche and spirit both go back to breath – our most intimate participation in the air. Once our culture forgot about the air as a living entity, we needed to interiorize psyche not to loose her altogether. This interiorization left the Air itself bereft of any agency, intelligence and autonomy. The human mind, always moving around in the brilliant Air, dependent on the air for every second of well functioning, still forgot the primacy of the Air to all Being, to all perception and knowledge.

The Eairth then is also the home to and the place for all images. Every single image we work with in expressive arts is made available only as a gift through the highly impressionable, receptive and endlessly generous medium of the air. Without it we could neither breathe, speak, act nor draw. It is the forgotten grace of our being. It is always already there, as Dasein. But today, as Heidegger says, we have forgotten Being.

It might be high time that we recover this sense of the Air as alive and sentient. This forgetting also explains our irreverence for what we now call the atmosphere. We have forgotten that Air is a sacred, intelligent active Being. Our societies are unthinkingly letting it receive all our wastes. Filling the air with exhaust, fumes, smoke, dust, chemical compounds, airplanes and noise. Is it any surprise that Air, having tolerated this behavior for too long, now is violently shifting into another mode altogether? Why should (S)he put up with our folly any longer?

If, as Jung says, psyche creates reality every day and, further, we are as much inside the psyche as the fish are inside the sea, then we’re forced to rediscovered psyche as the air. Because, every morning it is the air that lets light through to bring forth another ”day”. In this creation, of course, the ground, the earth, the ocean, waters and the sun’s fire give vital and fundamental contributions. Recognizing that we are in the air first, does not set up a ranking among elementals, for instance: air before water or air before fire. But the very word psyche itself primarily harkens back to breath, the big breath. As with our brethren the birds, trees, and squirrels, we’re most intimately in the air. I participate in it, and it in me.

This understanding has particular relevance to everyone that work with creative processes, because, this means that Creation is continuous. The Creation isn’t primarily what happened ten billion years ago, and since it has been up to the physical laws to run the show. Rather, each present moment is pregnant with Creation. When I participate in an image – with brush or without, in forest or in city, playing an instrument or not – I participate, too, in the Big Breath’s continual bringing forth of images. With the opening that the Eairth provides, I participate in a kind of reciprocal imaginative interaction with other things and beings. This participation is also participation in a larger ongoing Creation. This gives a vast sky over every creative act in our sessions with expressive arts, however humble or seemingly insignificant the images we work with.

Christians have long  entertained an image of going to Heaven for the afterlife. That may very well be the case. Our little breath eventually returns to the Big Breath. But we are also in Heaven already and continuously so. Through our participation with the air, we are in it. Going to Heaven, then, is not going somewhere else. Going to Heaven is to reawaken to the reality of this invisible mystery that we are inside at this very moment. Maybe the only sens-ible way to speak about this is to say: We are now in Heaven.[23] We are not on the earth, but we are in the Eairth.
Breathing out

Whatever we call it: expression, art, phenomena, image, thing – the place where we work with all this is none other than the clearing made by the air. We work inside the air, through the air. This is no passive neutral gas standing by. It is the active facilitation by the air that makes our expressions able to express anything. Soul is everywhere as Aristotle wrote.[24] We need to start acknowledging to what extent the living air participates in our creativity and our daily affairs.

If our work with image is part of a greater conversation, a larger breath, then it is no minor matter how we speak of these images. Our attitude to the images matter to more than to ourselves. The images we work with and the language we speak are ways of participating with the larger imagination of the Eairth. Changes in our language can then have the power to transform not only the human soul, but also reciprocally influence the soul of the world itself.

For the practice of expressive arts, this change in attitude has several implications. First, it accentuates that the rooms and places within which we work are active participants in the processes that we facilitate. Being inattentive to the space of the room, the clearing provided by the Eairth, is counterproductive to our work. We need to respect the spirits of the place; the genius loci. The simplest way of doing that can be to for instance perform rituals of clearing the space, like the sound of a bell, some smoke from an aromatic herb or quite simply candles that make the movement of air and the lighting of the space more apparent to us. In this way we are reminded of the air’s participation in processes that will unfold. There is nothing super-natural to this – just plain alertness to the invisible presences of air’s intelligence in the room.

Second, breathing becomes a priority no. 1. Through breathing both therapist / coach and client engage and merge with this larger, living medium. This gives deep nourishment from the big breath to our own little breath, our psyche/anima. Deep breathing animates our participation in the imagination, the nation of images that we enter into with our work.

Thirdly, the recognition of Eairth changes our attitude into one of reverence for It. At all times we are held and supported by the Eairth. It even listens in the sense that it responds and transmits even our tiniest utterances and movements. Fully sensitive. The remembering of the air makes us remember that all images belong to larger imaginings. The image comes from and arises in a context much vaster than me or us. Thus, working with images is a way of honoring the continuous creativity of the world itself. This realization is something that our larger culture needs to rediscover as well. Maybe expressive arts could contribute to the recognition both among the environmentalists and the public in general, that the air is not a passive mix of gases incidentally surrounding our planet – it is the very living being we are embedded in. We could call this an activism of the soul; not just a literal activism for or against an issue, but an activism of the soul, where we seek to include and collaborate with the activism of Eairth itself. Recognizing, through art, that we are truly created and recreated inside Its images.


[1]  Laurens van der Post, 1961, The Heart of the Hunter, London: Penguin.

[2]  Roger Brooke, 1991, Jung and Phenomenology

[3]  Carl G. Jung, 1926, Spirit and Life, i Coll. Works vol 8 (CW8), p.327.

[4]  Carl G. Jung, 1921, Psyhological Types, CW6, §78.

[5]  Carl G. Jung, 1933, The Real and the Surreal, CW8, p. 384.

[6]  Carl G. Jung, 1938/40, Psychology and Religion, CW11, p. 84.

[7]  Carl G. Jung, 1957, The Undiscovered Self, CW10, p. 291.

[8]  Carl G. Jung, 1929, Commentary on the Golden Flower, CW13, p.51.

[9]  Carl G. Jung, 1929, Commentary on the Golden Flower, CW13, §75.

[10]  Roger Brooke, 1991, Jung and Phenomenology.

[11]   Roger Brooke, 1991, Jung and Phenomenology, p. 85.

[12]  Carl G. Jung, 1940, The Psychology of the Child Archetype, CW9i,  p.173.

[13]  James Hillman, 1975, Re-Visioning Psychology, p. xi.

[14]  Roger Brooke, 1991, Jung and Phenomenology, p. 90.

[15]  James Hillman, 1988, Archetypal Psychology, p. 6-7.

[16]  James Hillman with Laura Pozzo, 1983, Inter Views, p.54.

[17]  I owe deep thanks to David Abram, 1996, The Spell of the Sensuous, for inspiration to speak in this way.

[18]  James Hillman, 1990, A Blue Fire p. 60-64, ed. Thomas Moore.

[19]  In certain Norwegian rural dialects they still say “he” about the wind. They might comment on a stormy day: “He blows hard today”. By personifying the wind, we come into a closer relation to it. Personifying is the heart’s mode of knowing, says Hillman in Re-Visioning Psychology, 1975, p.15. In this mode of knowing we need not be afraid of writing about these beings with capital letters: the Sky, the Air, the Wind, Water, Earth.

[20]  Roger Brooke, 1991, Jung and Phenomenology, p. 85 f.

[21]  Martin Heidegger, 1935, The origin of the work of art. In Basic Writings, pp 149-87. Ed. By D. Krell. London: Routledge, 1977.

[22]  The concept of Eairth has been developed through long walks and talks by my colleagues David Abram, Stephan Harding and Per Ingvar Haukeland. See Stephan Harding, 2007, Animate Earth. There are several publications forthcoming on the subject. See:

[23]  Tom Cheetham, 2005, in Green Man, Earth Angel, relates what Henry Corbin tells about Suzuki, the Zen Buddhist, interacting with a spoon: ”This spoon now exists in Paradise … We are now in Heaven.” p. 11.

[24]  Aristoteles, De Anima.


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