soul food

Conscious Femininity by Marion Woodman

This past Sunday morning I was sitting in the waiting room of the service centre at a Canadian Tire, waiting for my semi-annual tire change (from snow tires to all-weather radials). I had brought along Marion Woodman's Conscious Femininity – a collection of her interviews between 1985 and 1992 – to read while I waited. As I dipped into the book (which I haven’t read for nearly a decade), I was reminded over and over again why I love Woodman’s work so much. From an interview originally published in Parabola magazine:

Q:The fact that the whole culture is in an addictive state interests me in terms of this lack of meaning. It is as though there is a fundamental human need for meaning that can be as strong as instinctive needs. What could meet that need for those who are alienated from the traditional churches?

MW: Well, I think there are two things here. If you imagine the uninhabited body as a sort of an empty hole, you see people try to fill it in different ways. But the soul in the body is left empty. My answer to that is that the real food of the soul is metaphor. The whole wold of dreams is a metaphorical, symbolic one. Religion is based on symbol. Art, music, poetry, the whole creative world – the world of the soul – is based on it.

Q: So there is a faculty within that understands this world – that lives on it, in fact.

MW: It lives on it – it is as important as food. We simply must have access to that symbolic realm, because we are not animals only, and we are not gods, only. Somehow there has to be a bridge between the animal and the divine within, and that is the symbol. Children understand this. They love fairy tales, for example. But in our culture, these are taken away from them very early on. The world of imagination is repressed, and the soul is left crying.

Q:There is an enormous price to pay to keep all of that down.

MW: It won’t be held down. Eventually you’ll be faced with nightmare. Eventually it will come up. Or it will take a perverse route and say, “give me spirit,” and instead of understanding this symbolically, people interpret it concretely: and they start to drink alcohol, which is a concretization of that longing.