Image and Archetype
by Tom Singer, M.D.
Every time Allison Tuzo, Ami Ronnberg, and I put the finishing touches on an edition of ARAS Connections we find ourselves deeply pleased at the quality of our contributors’ work. It is gratifying to see such fine articles go out into the world. And, once again we now find ourselves delighted to offer you EDGES: Mountains, Forests, Creeks; Nature's Guide to Village Form.
This work is the culmination of a lifetime of reflections on the nature of Edges by the renowned landscape architect Eldon Beck.
It seems timely at the “edge” of a new year that we focus on the many levels of reality in which we experience “Edges.” There are the edges of our inner horizons, where we find ourselves in transition between past and future, known and unknown. There are the edges of our interpersonal and social relations. And, there are the edges of our relationships to nature. Perhaps the biggest “edges” that we are all facing now are the impending changes to life on earth as we know it as a consequence of climate change. In that context, Eldon Beck’s study of “edges” in nature seems most significant in its celebration of what we can learn as human beings from the edges we observe in nature and the edges at the intersection of the human and natural world. I believe that Eldon Beck’s work allows us to see “Edges” as archetypal phenomena—the edges in nature, the edges between man and nature, the edges in the human community between “us” and “them” and the edges between conscious and unconscious in our own nature. About archetypes, Jung wrote:
The primordial images [archetypes] are the most ancient and the most universal “thought-forms” of humanity CW7 ¶ 104
If for a moment, we allow ourselves to consider “Edges” in terms of Jung’s definition of archetypes as “primordial images” of “the most universal thought forms of humanity” we can see that Eldon Beck’s unique and imaginative lifetime exploration of “edges" opens up new dimensions of our experience of ourselves and the world. Beck writes:
"The creation of places where people are encouraged to interact with others and to find attachment to nature has guided my design philosophy for almost fifty years. My edge of consciousness is awareness of the vitality of edge conditions in the natural world. Where boundaries of two natural habitats meet, like meadow to forest, there is a richness of life in the zone termed an ecotone. The edge in nature is a celebration of connection, not division.” page 5
Printed copies of the book are available for $24 by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org. The $24 includes shipping and handling.
EDGES: Mountains, Forests, Creeks; Nature's Guide to Village Form
by Eldon Beck
ABOUT THIS BOOK
As my young family hiked into the Sierra foothills long ago, beyond rolling meadows, we passed the sparkles of a lake nestled into the forested landscape.
Ancient mountain peaks, pasted like paper cutouts against passing skies, rose mystically, compelling exploration. On trips to explore these mammoths of nature, I wanted to absorb the messages offered by wilderness. We spent our days on the edge of Thousand Island Lake at the base of Mount Ritter, or sitting at the edge of Hat Creek, near Mount Lassen, watching a bold red fox just across the rippling water. These precious times are at the core of my love of nature. They led directly to my creative life in the design of landscapes and composition of villages in mountain settings.
The forms of forested peaks with walls of glistening stone are the playfields of sunlight. There, erratic edges toss and catch fragments of brightness with poetic abandon. I am intrigued by the stunning diversity of edge conditions, physically, environmentally, visually and symbolically. Edges are where habitats connect and interact, both in natural and man-built settings. This makes an edge a place of unity rather than division.
Attempting to comprehend the complex union of nature with human settlements has been at the core of my design search. Edges: Mountains, Forests, Creeks, describes my path of awareness to how our inner lives respond to fringes in nature, and to what edges open for us within our own spirits.
In many readings of Diane Ackerman’s book, A Natural History of the Senses, these words speak to my love of edges.
Our senses define the edge of consciousness
and because we are born explorers
and questors after the unknown, we spend
a lot of our life pacing that windswept perimeter
Ackerman’s words Our senses define the edge of consciousness take me to memories when I was between ages three to six, living in Andrade, California. This was a residential enclave built for workers on the All-American Canal, across the Colorado River from Yuma, Arizona, tucked tightly to the border of Algodones, Mexico. My awareness was of blazing hot days, blinding sandstorms, harsh cactus covered hills, tempered by constantly changing shapes of lovely dunes of sand. Later we moved to a gentler part of Southern California, arriving on a warm May evening, the air saturated with an overwhelming fragrance of sweet citrus blossoms. I felt an unforgettable rousing of benign senses. The drama of these early landscapes would guide me along life pacing that windswept perimeter.
The creation of places where people are encouraged to interact with others and to find attachment to nature has guided my design philosophy for almost fifty years. My edge of consciousness is awareness of the vitality of edge conditions in the natural world. Where boundaries of two natural habitats meet, like meadow to forest, there is a richness of life in the zone termed an ecotone. The edge in nature is a celebration of connection, not division.
Help Support ARAS!
by Ami Ronnberg
As the nights are getting longer we are sending you this image of the great goddess Isis from ancient Egypt, her golden wings spread protectively over the dark earth. On her head she holds a small chair, suggesting that both her throne and her lap give her power to guide, hold and protect. Surely this is something deeply needed at this time.
Whenever we are moved by image and imagination something happens, and we are changed, in however small a way. Even after working for many years at ARAS I find it a miracle that there is an archive dedicated to art, myths, and symbols, inviting us to live a ‘symbolic life,’ as Carl Jung once said. However, it is only with your support that this unique resource can continue. We hope that you will give as generously as you can to support this work at ARAS.
We received this poem in response to our Archetype in Focus post on Raven and would like to share it with you along with good wishes for the holidays! We hope you enjoy it.
Raven, divining bird
A black Raven came to my door some years ago
and flew away that spring.
He returned again on Christmas, the first thing
I saw outside my steamed up morning window.
(It was not the gift I had imagined.)
Sentinel pines, still northern lake,
a Saskatchewan winter.
against the frozen white,
against the freeze frame of lake, its vast expanse,
white on white, adorned, encased
by the glamour of the hoarfrost,
his shining blue-black feathers
radiant with life sheen.
They belied this harsh place.
He hopped on the snow-packed earth, stealing
bits of this and that, scraps unseen
by any other eye,
divining the story of this land.