“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it
becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in
I finished off, in Elfin Ladder I, arguing for the preservation of our wild places. My reasoning was that encounters with natural forms such as the above, can represent opportunities for self-growth, through the phenomenon Jung defined as ‘Archetype’.
With this in mind, I mounted the first rung of my Elfin Ladder with an exploration of the words elf and ladder. Definitions, including symbolic and mythological are widely available. How these relate specifically to me at this particular time, can be of little use or interest to anyone else. (We can only make our own journeys – take our own walks). For
example’s sake, I’ll reveal that at the time of my encounter with this tree, I was on the brink of a big change in my life. It was planned. Secreted within this change however, lurked another.
Ladders symbolise not just change, but spiritual change. Ladders lead upwards (into a zone we cannot reach by ‘normal’ means). The Ladder of Heaven which joins earth and heaven exists in more than one religion. In Ancient Egyptian belief, it is associated with Osiris, the god of resurrection. In Christianity, spiritual growth is the metaphysical meaning of the story of Jacob’s Ladder. Jacob’s Ladder, in the Middle Ages, came to symbolise the Virgin Mary, through whom was sealed the alliance of heaven and earth. In the eastern Christian Church, souls of the dead climb ladders. Ladders symbolise spiritual growth in Hinduism. The Ladder is one of the instruments of the Passion of Christ, the means by which Jesus was taken down from his cross, his deposition.
My encounter with the Elfin Ladder, I chose to interpret in one aspect, as a reminder that I need to ensure my recent change embraces not just the physical but also the
spiritual. Could there have been a second aspect (I asked myself in hindsight)
in that my encounter with the Elfin Ladder was premonitory? Because the change within my planned change has necessitated a ‘deposition’. Jesus’ deposition involved the disposal and dividing of his clothing. The distribution and disposal of the effects of every deceased person is part of his or her deposition. In pondering the deposition of Jesus, I recalled the story of the wrangling over his garment. It came to me that depositions should be respectful in the distribution of the deceased’s possessions and the realisation has made a painful task easier.
There is vast evidence for the fact of premonition and the mechanics are, I believe,
scientifically explainable. I’m curious about what could be the function of premonition. In Science, everything in Nature is about aiding and promoting survival. It occurred to me that one purpose for premonition may be that it serves to ‘soften the blow’ as trauma is a threat to survival.
Jung didn’t invent the concept that Nature is meaningful, is a teacher. It has always been
fundamental within the belief systems of first nations peoples, e.g. of the Americas and Australasia. Dr Chuck Ross (Ehanamani) at the very beginning of his book Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all Related) writes of his astonishment at the similarities between the mindset presented in Jung’s Analytical Psychology and the mindset and beliefs of the Lakota/Dakota peoples. Jesus of Nazareth presented his teachings
through parables that used the example of nature. His Sermon on the Mount illustrates two truths using elements of wild nature: (field) lilies and (wild) birds.
The loss of wild natural spaces, then, whether this results from urban development or removal of public access, is a threat not to our recreation, but to our survival.
Curiously, since beginning to write about ‘elfin ladders’ I’ve been inundated with them,
including, last week, some on Holy Island – Lindisfarne – in the far north of England.
There is more to come on ‘elfin ladders’, but in the meantime, I recommend you get walking and find your own …