by Jenny Deupree
This book explores the thesis that imaginal/psychological reality and scientific/material reality are equally valid, but very different, ways of understanding our life and our environment. These two modes are usually set in conflict, as though one disproved the other, instead of being used to complement one another. The basic organizing principle of the book is the sun/moon polarity, with the sun symbolizing all that is rational, masculine, linear and logical, and the moon symbolizing all that is intuitive, feminime, pattern-oriented and imaginative.
This topics discussed include the sun and the moon, masculine and feminine, the two hemispheres of the brain, megaliths, earth energies, the archetypes of the psyche, Atlantis, and the planet as a whole. Each of these topics is examined in a right-hand way, objectively looking at the facts, assumptions, and theories, and then in a left-hand way, looking for symbolic content and psychological meaning.
The book's contents are also presented in a right/left format: the right-hand pages contain continuous narrative, with chapter headings and footnotes; the left-hand pages contain a sequence of paragraphs taken from trip journals, dreams, celebrations, and fantasies. The author hopes that each reader, in attempting to deal with this right/left presentation, will come to a better understanding of how these two modes of being intersect in everyday life, and how we might better realize our potential as human beings for living well on our planet.
CHAPTER ONE: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
The sun and moon are examined as they are observed from the earth. Solar and Lunar symbolic values are described and compared with male and female, right hand and left hand, and the two hemispheres of the brain. Our culture is shown to be out of balance with too much emphasis on solar/male/right-hand values and processes. Ways of recovering balance are suggested.
CHAPTER TWO: Megaliths, Myths, and Mother Earth
The planet Earth is examined from two points of view, ancient and contemporary. In Neolithic times Mother Earth was a goddess who provided life support for her creatures. Big stones were placed by a process akin to dowsing for the purpose of trapping or channeling vital energies that flow through the body of the earth. Modern theories of plate tectonics once again see the earth as a dynamic system integrating its many different parts. The Gaia hypothesis goes even further, suggesting that the earth is a self-regulating entity which creates optimum conditions for life.
CHAPTER THREE: The Way of the Left Hand
The archetypes of the psyche are examined as they manifest through contemporary works of fantasy and science fiction. Some of these archetypal patterns are the Great Mother, the Union of Opposites, and the Quest for the Lost Realm. Among the works examined are: Dune, Islandia, Wizard of Earthsea, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, and The Lord of the Rings.
CHAPTER FOUR: Atlantis
Atlantis is examined as a historical reality and as a psychological archetype. Historical possibilities include a Bronze Age empire and an asteroid strike. In the psyche, Atlantis stands for the planetary sacred civilization. The catastrophe is a symbol of paradigm shift, of world-changing insights breaking through. Atlantis suggests the possibility of wholeness by recovering the parts of ourselves that have been lost underwater: our lunar and left-handed souls.
From the back cover:
BROCELIANDE is the enchanted forest of Celtic legend where Merlin learned his magic, where the Lady of the Lake stands by the Holy Well holding in her hands the Chalice of Rebirth. Every forest, well, hill, river, and mountain is enchanted, every single particular sopt on the earth's surface has its presiding divinity, its tutelar, its numen. But we have forgotten this, we have lost the intuitive knowledge that rests in the earth like groundwater and connects us with those vital energies that enable us to live in harmony and abundance on our home planet. NUMENOR has been overthrown and drowned in the sea, and our left hands have grown weak and clumsy. But we can follow the divining rod, the intuitive left hand into the underwater realm and recover the lost knowledge. Then is opened the possibility of living in that reciprocal relationship between city and country called in Islandia TANRYDOON - the possibility of living at the balance point between sea and land, nature and civilization, female and male.
From the left-hand pages:
Eastward- from knocknarae we come upon a dolmen. its flat-topped capstone reflects the shape of the mountain, ben bulben to northward repeatts the theme - a flat and an angle. the whole landscape shifts, tilts, comes into focus. there's more here than shape, glowing lines connect mountains and stones, trace the edges of fields, run like bones through the hills. the pattern informing this earth is revealed, a pattern made visible by placement of stone.
taliafero speaks: i leap high and wave my hands, i make the people laugh. it is a shock when the world turns inside out - ha ha and again ho ho - for what you thought was true is shows to be inadequate and what you had forgotten turns out to be what you need and you yourself persist through all the changes until you know finally and beyond all answers who you are and what truth is.
From the right-hand pages:
The right and left brain studies are complex and fascinating. The left hemisphere receives and transmits nerve impulses from the right half of the body, and the right hemisphere is similarly connected to the left half of the body. This is not as simple as it sounds. For example, the right hemisphere receives information from the left visual fields of both eyes rather than from the total field of the left eye. (Chapter 1, p. 16)
The oxygen balance is equally fascinating. Oxygen makes up 21% of our atmosphere. Lovelock says that only a trace of oxygen is available on a lifeless world, e.g. Mars, that 12% oxygen is needed to start a fire (handy for humans but also a measure of available chemical energy), but that at 25% oxygen even green vegetation would continue to burn. The oxygen content of our atmosphere is as high as it can be without danger of universal conflagration. (Chapter 2, p. 63)