In search of what lies within through the Gothic
A few years ago I was invited to a meditation group on WhatsApp. The first thing I thought was “I don’t have time for this”, and I kind of proceeded to tell my friend and student I couldn't promise anything. Her reply was something along the lines of: what can you lose by having a go? You can do it at the end of the day when you’ve finished your classes, or first thing in the morning to activate you. You decide.
That flexibility and freedom she gave me is what made me stay and even finish the task. The same had happened around the same time when I was persuaded to have a chat with a dietician when one day in the chemist I was going to buy an anticellulite cream. The first thing I told the expert as I walked through the door was that I couldn't promise anything as I have never been good at putting food restrictions on myself. When he replied that the sheet he was going to give me every two weeks was only a guide and not something fixed to obsess about was when I stayed until the end of the process.
So that’s what I did with this invitation, despite not having a clue on how to meditate, who Deepak Chopra was, or what "mantra" meant. I didn't even know how to sit properly for that matter. But I did it anyway.
There were three of us in the group.
Before the meditation, we had to reflect on something and write down what we had come up with. This exercise helped me in various ways:
I became committed to the task by making sure every day I had a few minutes to be in my brain in a healthy way. This helped me slow down and concentrate on only one intentional thought at a time.
I was connected with three other people doing the same exercise and at the end of our meditations we shared our visions, experiences, and thoughts.
I wrote down on paper all those deeper desires, wishes, and dreams I kept postponing for when I had the time.
Some of the images and symbols we saw and experienced resonated with each other.
I entered into very interesting conversations with the rest of the group about each other’s perceptions.
I felt I was in a safe space to share my writing dreams and stories.
I received much feedback and encouragement to pursue my dreams.
One of the exercises we had to carry out in one of the initial days was to draw a life project we wanted to achieve.
As you have probably guessed already, for me it was a book. On its cover, I wrote something along the lines of Alice in Gothic Land, the Journey of a Mortal Soul. The recurrent images were a forest, a woman wearing a cloak about to walk through the forest, carrying a book in one hand and a lantern in the other.
At the time I was doing these meditations, I didn’t know much about Jungian psychology. I had probably started to come across a couple of terms. However, it was during my investigations that more and more concepts kept popping up until I bumped into the concept of “the Shadow” and I decided to start including it in my monthly magazines and newsletters.
A writer and also a Gothicist friend of mine said to me in one of our accountability meetings: “You know Alicia, that concept is very interesting and relevant in Gothic Literature, and it's something you could explore further".
This is when I stopped to pay attention to who Carl G. Jung was.
I had not realised that certain concepts had been popping up for a while which I had not been paying attention to. I had also been a bit scared of him, as everything I had heard so far wasn’t really that positive. I saw him as someone who might have been tempering with the unknown and therefore could not be trusted as a mental health professional.
But nothing was further from the truth. When I started pulling all the strings, a whole new world opened up in front of me. A world that resonated deeply within me. Things like the weight that my dreams had during the day or the reason behind my passion for writing down my thoughts and stories since I was eight. But also, learning about concepts such as “individuation” or the “archetypal world” shone light on what has been going on behind my passion for Gothic literature and how the two fields complement and explain each other.
I can’t remember where I read this but it makes a lot of sense to me that Jung made the most of art and literature to exemplify his theories and beliefs, the same way the literature can benefit greatly from Jungian psychology.
The reason why I’m telling you all this is that during those 21 days of meditation, many images popped up in my head and much soul-searching took place. At the time I interpreted those images and thoughts as desires I wasn’t listening to because I was too busy. But then I learned that there was more to that pushing towards one side than I thought. There was also the fear of being rejected and misunderstood by people around me, conglomerating with many other feelings and thoughts rooted at a deeper level.
The book project is still inside of my head and scattered through a few notebooks and papers, and although I have published a story in a collaborative project, a flash fiction story and I participate every year in Lex Jones Christmas ghost story reading group, I still haven’t managed to put together that book. It’s like I am waiting for the right ingredients to materialise. But why is that?
One of the things I have heard Jungian analysts say, and I have even read from Jung himself, is that sometimes, certain images present to us but we don’t really know what they mean and we won’t necessarily know the meaning straight away. Sometimes it's a matter of time. The same happens with the interpretation of dreams. And this is so because we might not be ready for what those images are trying to tell us, just as yet.
Three years have passed since I started talking about Gothic literature on Social Media, and in that time I have learned much from my research while trying to enlighten other people's journeys. I have attended webinars, and bought, read, and reviewed many books. More recently I have embarked on the crazy pursuit of understanding Jungian psychology through readings, taking courses, listening to podcasts with Jungian experts, and undergoing analysis. So it is now that I am starting to see a structure that seems to align with me.
I think I am starting to make sense of what I interpret as my alter ego in search of something within. Maybe it's really an archetype from my personal unconscious that has finally been made conscious and it's trying to tell me something about our common truth. Maybe that grimoire under Alice's arm is actually “Jung’s Red Book” and what I am doing with the lantern in my hand is inviting you to come with me to learn more about our psyches and internal figures using Gothic literature and its universal representations of the archetypes that live in the collective unconscious.
If I understand the idea of finding the myth that Jung talked about, I am suspicious that probably Alice in Gothic Land is more than a YouTube channel. I sense that it is also the story of my own myth. A myth that I'm writing week after week.
So today I want to leave you with the following question: Are you ready to keep track of your myth?
If you want to know more about this topic, I will talk more about it in next week's video called, How to Explore your Personal Myth through Gothic Literature. If you want to be one of the first people to be notified, subscribe to my YouTube channel at the following link:
The other thing you can also do is enroll in my course Exploring the Gothic Psyche: Jungian Concepts in Gothic Literature where I help you connect with your internal figures to contribute to your personal and professional self-development. For more information about the course visit the following page:
If you have any questions or would like to know more about the Gothic and how to use it as a tool for self-exploration and self-discovery you can contact me privately or book your FREE discovery call.
By delving into the Gothic within, you will discover a path to personal greatness and authenticity that will even surprise you.
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I hope to see you very soon,
Until my next entry,
Stay Gothic, my friend!