Blessed Greenness

 Detail of Gaia, Ceramic Piece by Genevieve Haven

Blessed Greenness

Carl Jung defines the benedicta viriditas, “blessed greenness,” as

…the state of someone who, in his wanderings among the mazes of his psychic transformation, comes upon a secret happiness which reconciles him to his apparent loneliness. In communing with himself he finds not deadly boredom and melancholy but an inner partner, more than that, a relationship that seems like the happiness of a secret love, or like a hidden springtime, when the green seed sprouts from the barren earth, holding of the promise of future harvests. It [signifies]… on the one hand the “leprosy of the metals (verdigris), but on the other the secret immanence of the divine spirit of life in all things. … Therefore this virtue and the preservation of things might be called the Soul of the World (CW 14,❡623).

My initial experiences of the secret immanence of the divine spirit of life in all things were at once compelling and frightening. I had recently remarried and moved to my husband’s ranch, returning to an agricultural life, albeit one quite different from the Midwestern farm where I was reared. Yes, my heart opened, that is for sure. It was like a secret love, not unlike that for my husband and sons. The absolute beauty of seeing the gold in grass (what else can I call it?) shocked me, reminding me of poet Robert Frost’s line, nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. I am sure he meant “hold” to mean “to sustain”, but for me it was more along the lines of her hardest hue to behold.   
Madrone, poison oak, bay, and The Light.

How can I best describe those years? I was a candidate in analytical training to be a Jungian analyst and working with a mentor/analyst who had studied with a Navajo medicine man. I was also a member of a group studying the overlap of analytical psychology and Native American spirituality, so I was receiving spiritual as well as psychological training.

But nothing prepared me for the witnessing of immanence of Spirit in Matter, of the gold in the green. Although the experience was ecstatic, I also feared that I was dying. Was I being prepared to enter another dimension?

I took photographs, trying to find a reflection of my perception. The brilliance opened my heart even more, and I felt at-one-with the vines, the grass, the valley oaks, the birdsong that echoed in the canyon.

Helichrysum and Valley Oak. Photo by Art and Clarity.

Is this the experience of the Eternal, enabled by love? Early in his career Jung stated that our Promethean task is to deal not only with theft of fire generated in response to blocked instinct (i.e., consciousness), but also with the anxiety of psychic energy that may result as well (1916/1947, 189–190; 1911–12/1952, CW 5, ¶250). Our task is not adaptation but taking on the demands of developed awareness of psychic reality.

What are the demands of a such a developed awareness? In the next weeks and months I will write about this challenge of the oncoming age.

I would love to hear your own experiences of and comments about the blessed greenness.