Posted on 27 November 2003


Another day. I finally went for routine blood tests this morning. There is a required ten hours without eating or drinking and you’d think it would be easy for me. Not. I keep such strange hours that if I wake at five or six and have to wait till 7:30 without a coffee, when the lab opens, I feel bereaved.

After the young woman drained some of my precious blood, I went to Delaney’s and had a coffee and muffin and wrote about Marion Woodman. Last night at the Jungian meeting I was doing the same. I want to understand her better as a woman, wife, and divine presence. (I don’t know how else to describe her special aura.)

I am writing from memory so don’t quote me. Marion began as a parson’s daughter, a father’s daughter. She grew up, went to university, married a professor, and taught school. She describes her life as middle-class prosperous. One day she tried to hail a cab and failed. She realized she was a woman who couldn’t manage without a husband, as a woman alone. She decided to go to India by herself; where, after falling ill, she had an out-of-body experience. She had to consciously decide whether to live or die. All her support systems were gone. She had to live by instinct.

When she went home to her husband and teaching position, she found she could not exist as she had before her Indian experience. Two years later, she went to England to a Jungian analyst. (I don’t know if her husband, Ross, was with her or not.)

She returned to Canada and resumed teaching – work she loved – to earn money to train as an analyst in Zurich. Earning the money herself was important. As the time approached for her to leave, she wrote a resignation letter to the school, tore it up, and then once again fell deadly ill. When she recovered, her husband put her on a plane to Zurich. He knew she had to go. (I am so admiring. At each parting, he did not know if their marriage was over or not.)

She returned to Toronto, to her marriage, and started her practice as an analyst. She wrote books and started her body/soul workshops. Her energy flowed. Ross said that when he woke each morning, she had already left their bed, and was working.

After a number of years, she fell deadly ill again. This time with cancer. At first, she wouldn’t allow Ross to accompany her for treatments as he had his own health issues. When she recovered, she published an edited version of her private journal, “Bone” written during this period. This was the first time, she read her diary to her husband.

Soon after the book was published, I heard her speak at Christ Church and then attended a weekend workshop with her and Robert Bly. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was magical. I had the same feeling when I saw Martha Graham give one of her last performances. They appear as stars – more of the heavens than of the earth – and yet both are (were) solid, body, human.

I dug out the old program from the Martha Graham performance. The reviewer, Walter Terry writes:

“When I first met Martha Graham in 1936, I felt instantly a force, a power, an energy that I had never experienced before…. I know now that she herself generates energy from some self-replenishing well… She has been called a high priestess (which she hates) and even a goddess (a designation which she has reserved for her idol, Ruth St. Denis…)

I felt Graham’s force as I did Woodman’s. They both give so much to their audience. Is it their strength or love, I felt? (Is love the right word? I don’t mean a sentimental small thing.) Was it simply their joy at being alive.

I want to live such joy. So I continue to think about Woodman. I loved “Bone,” reading of the more than human soul who struggled to live her ideas and ideals. She knew the scientific world were not believers of dreams, soul, and poetry. She knew her doctor did not believe that looks can kill. She does. She changed doctors.

What sustained her was love for her own body and Ross. When she read the paper or listened to the news, she wondered why she wanted to stay alive. She wrote that it was for her marriage.

Marlene said that Woodman is on her fourth marriage to Ross. I like this. I don’t believe in marriage where two cling. The old idea of marriage – always together – doesn’t work in my mind. But if one or two can drop traditional bindings and re-define or even re-create this state sanctioned by god and state, it may work.

Lots to think about. But I must run.

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