Nature Child to the Rescue  

nature

In this week’s post, I want to explore  the idea about the activation of the psychic energies of the Shadow Orphan Archetype in Pamela L. Travers’s life. 

As previously mentioned, the models of the archetypal energies are inspired by Caroline Myss‘s gallery of archetypes (which in turn is inspired by the work of Carl Jung). If you are not familiar with the concept of the energetic archetypes, I invite you to read the post about Pamela and the Wounded Child Archetype and investigate the links that are embedded both in that previous post as well as the links herein.  

Again, I am just playing with these ideas and concepts with the aim of articulating my intuitive understanding of Pamela’s personality. It is a personal interest and a first time writing experience; one that I find quite enjoyable. 

If this is your first visit to this blog, I sincerely hope that you too will find the content enjoyable and that you will follow my weekly attempts at untangling Pamela’s psyche.  

♥ Not a lot about her was known by the pubic twenty years ago, although a lot has been said since. Still, much more remains unsaid and unexplored. 

The Orphan Archetype 

Now, about the Orphan Archetype. This energetical pattern is activated by the experience of loss of one or both parents at an early age. Because such an experience is extremely terrifying and painful, the Orphan Archetype is often in the company of the Wounded Child Archetype. (Note that emotional neglect or abuse from the child’s care givers can probably also trigger this archetype.) 

Orphans are left on their own devices and must develop independence early in life. The absence of nurturing and guidance compels the Orphan Child to construct its inner reality based on personal judgment and experience.  

Orphans who succeed at finding a path of survival on their own are celebrated in fairy tales and folk stories as having won a battle with a dark force: the fear of surviving alone in this world.   

When the Orphan fails on her path towards independence, the shadow aspect manifests itself through feelings of abandonment and rejection. This, in turn, stifles the maturation process and often causes the Orphan to seek surrogate family structures in attempt to experience tribal union. Often therapeutic support groups or religious organizations become shadow tribes or families for an Orphan Child who knows deep down that healing these wounds requires moving on to adulthood. 

Feeling outside of the family circle 

Pamela seems to always have felt left out and as if she was not a part of her family. This feeling can be traced in her writings and I will give one example here from The Fox at the Manger, a Christmas fable Pamela wrote and published in 1962: 

“And I dearly wanted a black lamb. For, without him, where are the ninety and nine? Flocks, like families, have need of their black sheep – he carries their sorrow for them. He is the other side of their whiteness. Does nobody understand, I wondered, that a crib without a black lamb is an incomplete statement.” 

She also experienced loneliness and abandonment prior to the sudden death of her father and the suicide attempt of her mother.  

When Pamela was a small child, her mother was busy raising Pamela’s siblings and her father was busy drinking. No one was available to take care of her emotional and intellectual needs. Her parents, unable to address those needs, made her feel somewhat inadequate and different from her siblings.  

If you are interested in learning more about her relationships with her father and her mother, these are explored in the posts Lyndon’s First Gods Part I and Part II.

♥ For the purposes of this post, let me reaffirm that my understanding is that her inner child was fragmented and that the different aspects, namely the Nature Child, the Magical Child, the Wounded Child, and the Orphan Child came at odds with each other as Pamela grew older. Thus, her Child Archetype did not fully integrate and never truly matured. 

In her early childhood, Pamela found solace from her loneliness in nature and in books. These two sources provided a gateway for the expression of the Nature Child and the Magical Child aspects of her inner child. It was these two archetypal energies that assisted her in constructing her inner reality, and for a while, succeeded in overpowering the negative forces of the Orphan Child and Wounded Child Archetypes. 

The Nature Child 

Pamela fits this archetype perfectly.  

As a young child, she used to spend her days in the fields of weed next to her parent’s house in Maryborough, busy making nests and pretending to be a mother hen laying her eggs. Her biographer, Valerie Lawson, reveals Pamela to have been a child “much closer to animals than people; she took care not to step on an ant or a beetle.” She “felt surrounded by the spirits of the trees, by the grass and stone but most of all by stars.” 

♥ Pamela suspected trees of gossiping amongst themselves but stopping once they saw her arrive. This sensibility to the living world around her and the invisible realms is profoundly touching and apparently not so far apart from reality.  

(As an aside, I just started reading The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from A Secret World. I notice lately that somehow everything I read is connected in some way to my blog project. This is probably because my mind is so immersed in the subject that it makes links with apparently unrelated subjects. Pamela used to say that thinking is linking…)  

Anyhow, back to the subject of this post.  

♥ A few years later, when the family moved to Allora, Pamela spent her time playing in the paddock close to the house making small villages out of leaves and branches.  At night, she would lie in the grass while watching and listening to the stars humming.    

Thus, The Nature Child operated throughout Pamela’s entire life. However, as the events of her life unfolded, the energies of the Wounded Child and Orphan Child downplayed its beneficial forces. Gradually, what she once experienced as a feeling of connectedness to the universal life force and awe at the mystery of creation became secondary, and at best, a southing landscape and comforting activity.  

Indeed, Pamela wrote the first two Mary Poppins books in a bucolic cottage in Sussex where she had to move for health reasons.

pound-cottage-gallery

Parks and stars are recurring elements in these stories. She also took up gardening, with herbs and flowers being her predilection.  

♥ Yet at that time in her life, Pamela’s prior attention was on other matters. She was longing for a love connection. Additionally, the shadow energies of the Wounded Child and the Orphan Child were creating havoc in her relationships and forcing the Nature child to express itself in peculiar ways. Her fascination with the stars found resonance with the cosmic mythology of Gurdjieff, her guru’s work. She even based her decision of adopting her son on an astrological chart. 

In the end, Pamela proved to be as tough and resilient as nature. She died at the venerable age of 97, despite the many physical ailments and mental torments she suffered since her mid-twenties.

♥ At night, she laid still in her bed looking at her curtains specially chosen for their “whirly night sky pattern,” says her biographer, and imagined herself being a tree. She even affirmed knowing how it felt to be a tree… 

Still, the Nature Child alone could not have accomplished the task of explaining the outer world to young Pamela. It was greatly assisted by the Magical Child which will be the subject of next week’s post. 

 

The Lover Archetype and Friend Monkey (Part III)

Friend Monkey 2.jpg

 

The writing of Friend Monkey

In 1966, when Pamela L. Travers was just starting to write the story of Friend Monkey, some friends asked her to look after a family of three Tibetans visiting London. The visitors stayed in her writing studio for a few weeks and after they left, her manuscript of two-hundred pages had mysteriously vanished.

Her biographer, Valerie Lawson, reports that Pamela even called in two dowsers, who went over the house with two pendulums. They searched everywhere, even in hatboxes and luggage, in the bathroom, the garden, under the sofa. Nothing.” The manuscript was gone. Pamela was dispirited.

However, whoever or whatever wanted to prevent Pamela from writing that book underestimated her zeal. Eventually, she rewrote Friend Monkey and the book was published in 1971.

The book did not attain much success at the time of its publishing, especially in the United States, and today few people know about the story of Friend Monkey. This lack of success crushed Pamela and she wrote to  friends:

Here it is not understood except by rare people…I feel that I have written a sort of testament. In England, it is much better understood but the U.S. reception has thrown me into the deeps. That something so clear, so obviously to do with love and loving isn’t seen!  So that I have lost a lot of faith in myself. Am I a writer? Do I know anything about the myths? Who am I? And what? Shall I ever write anything else? (This is a common sickness among writers but I am having a bad bout of it and no medicine or reassurance seems to assuage it. I need a whole new set of impressions, I expect.) 

The reference in the last sentence in the quote above about the “set of impressions” alludes to the teachings of Pamela’s spiritual teacher Gurdjieff but her allegiance to his work and its influence on her writings will be explored in future posts on this blog.

Now back to Friend Monkey.

The story of Friend Monkey

The main characters of the story are Friend Monkey, a little monkey abandoned by its tribe, and Mr. Alfred Linnet, a ship-checking clerk. Mr. Linnet is a powerless family man living with his wife and three young kids in the house of the old and grumpy Uncle Trehunsey. One day, Mr. Linnet discovers in the cargo of one of the ships on dock a little monkey and takes him home instead of giving him to the suspicious Professor McWhirter who presents himself as animal fancier and collector. While in their home, Friend Monkey, quite unintentionally, sets the house of Uncle Trehunsey on fire. Mr. Linnet’s unconventional neighbor, Mrs. Brown-Potter (a former explorer), shelters the family. Meanwhile, Professor McWhirter follows Friend Monkey and tries to snatch him from his adoptive family. Then, one day, Friend Monkey runs out of the house and disrupts the Jubilee Parade of the Queen which becomes the cause of Mr. Linnet’s down fall. The family is left without resources and no one wants to hire disgraced Mr. Linnet. Thus a difficult decision must be made. The family, along with Friend Monkey, Mrs. Brown-Potter, and her adoptive little African boy Stanley, embark on a ship sailing to Umtota with the intention of starting a new life in a new place. In a turn of fortune, the ship never reaches the intended destination. The ship’s crew is employed by Professor McWhirter who is in the business of stealing animals from zoos and freeing them on a deserted island. At the end of the story, Mr. Linnet’s new job is to be the watchman of the island. And as for Friend Monkey, he is greeted by his monkey tribe and treated as their King.

♥ I can’t say the story plot is particularly engaging and it has some slow moments. It also lacks the magic of the Mary Poppins stories because, in my opinion, it is mostly a conscious writing on Pamela’s part. The descriptions of the characters and their emotional states sounded a little preachy at times.  I can see why the book did not receive the expected praise. It is not Pamela’s best work; although, it was her favorite one.  

Nevertheless, there are a lot of interesting hints about Pamela’s inner workings that seem to have escaped everybody’s attention.

First, let’s talk about the character of Miss Brown-Potter.

Valerie Lawson, Pamela L. Travers’s biographer, finds similarities between Mrs. Brown-Potter, Mary Poppins, and Pamela’s Great Aunt Ellie.  

And, although it is true that the personality of Mary Poppins reflects to a certain extent that of Aunt Ellie as discussed in a previous post, and that some aspects of Aunt Ellie’s upbringing coincide with the upbringing of Mrs. Brown-Potter, the resemblances stop there. The discrepancies between the temperaments of Mary Poppins and of Mrs. Brown-Potter make this assumption implausible.

Instead, the similarities between Pamela L. Travers and Mrs. Brown Potter are much more striking.

♥ Mrs. Brown-Potter is unconventional just like Pamela, she travels to explore the world just like Pamela (although Pamela traveled the world to explore herself), and lives alone with her African adopted son just like Pamela lived alone with her adoptive Irish boy Camillus.

♥ At the same time, there are striking opposites in the characteristics of Pamela L. Travers and Mrs. Brown Potter and these contradictions in character make me believe that Mrs. Brown-Potter is an expression of the Higher Self of Pamela – the ideal towards which Pamela was striving.

Mrs. Brown Potter is calm and content. Pamela was anxious and restless. Mrs. Brown-Potter is loving and compassionate, even to the unlovable Uncle Trehunsey. Mrs. Brown-Potter has no expectations of reciprocation, she just does what needs to be done. Pamela was demanding and self-pitying.

♥ Another interesting aspect in the story of Friend Monkey is the relationship between Mrs. Brown-Potter and her adoptive son, Stanley. Stanley is deaf and cannot speak but he and Mrs. Brown-Potter have a connection that Pamela never experienced with her own son who had no speech impediment. Her heart must have ached when she wrote:

For twelve years they have lived together in harmony and mutual affection…

She and Stanley exchanged glances, and at once, working as one person, they set about getting bowls of soup, gathering up the scattered bundles, lighting lamps, making beds.”

The part about little Mrs. Brown-Potter is the most unconscious expression of Pamela’s psyche in the book. Little Mrs. Brown-Potter is the portrait of Mrs. Brown-Potter at the age of ten. The little girl comes momentarily alive and steps down from the frame to commiserate with Friend Monkey.

He wrapped his arms more closely about him, not so much remembering as feeling in his whole body that he had been left alone.

And Miss Brow-Potter at the age of ten, mumpish in her white muslin, stepped down from her portrait frame and came and stood beside him. For a long time or a short time-neither could have measured it – the two of them communed together, motionless as a painted child and a painted monkey.

♥ It is conspicuous that the little girl in the story is framed in time and space at the age of ten, the age at which Pamela’s mother attempted suicide. It is almost as if little Helen Lyndon (Pamela’s real name) was showing a glimpse of herself. I believe both Friend Monkey and little Mrs. Brown-Potter express the emotions of the Orphan Child within Pamela herself.

Next week’s post will explore the Orphan Archetype and Pamela’s need to belong to a tribe.

 

 

The Lover Archetype and Friend Monkey (Part II)

pamela-l-travers-hanuman

This week, we’ll continue the exploration of the Lover Archetype. We will also get acquainted with the myth of Hanuman and his remote cousin, Friend Monkey, the favorite creation of Pamela L. Travers. In fact, she loved Friend Monkey more than she loved her famous character Mary Poppins.

Pamela without a doubt was a lover of myth and fairy-tales. She even attempted to write myth like stories at three separate occasions. First in the “Fox and the Manger” (1963), the second time in “Friend Monkey” (1971) and a third time in “About the Sleeping Beauty” (1975).

♥ However, none of these conscious efforts to create myth worked out as successfully as her more unconscious writing of the Mary Poppins character who turned out to be the one intrinsically mythical.

For the purposes of this week’s and next week’s posts we’ll focus our attention on the story of “Friend Monkey“. The other two books will be examined in future posts.

♥ Pamela believed that we all have our own personal myth. She wrote to friends that hers was the myth of Hanuman, the monkey god of the Hindu mythology. I believe that because Hanuman is the embodiment of the Devoted Servant Archetype and because he exalts love to a higher sphere, Pamela’s Wounded Child mistook Hanuman for the Lover Archetype.

The myth of Hanuman

Hanuman’s mother was a vanara which means in the language of Hindu mythology a subclass of human being; a human with tribal, instinctive, wild, animalistic nature. Illustrations of vanaras show them as humans with monkey faces. Although a vanara, his mother was endowed with spiritual qualities and prayed the Gods that she would give birth to a son who will help all humanity. Her prayers were heard by the God of wind, Vayu, who impregnated her in the sacred way of the Immaculate Conception.

Thus, Hanuman was born a boy with a monkey face but also with a mixture of divine elements. He possessed the ability to shrink and increase his size, to be weightless or to increase his weight, to travel anywhere, to leap as high as he wished, to acquire anything, to master all creatures, and ultimately to become godlike with the power to create and destroy.

When Hanuman was young, he saw the sun in the sky and thought it was a fruit and, being a monkey, he wanted to get it.  Indra the god of thunderbolts struck Hanuman on the chin with a thunderbolt and knocked him from the sky in order to preserve life that would have been destroyed had Hanuman succeeded in his selfish plan. Afterwards, because of his mischievous nature and all the troubles he was creating, wise men put a spell on Hanuman and made him forget about his powers until later when he was reminded of them.  Then, the Sun becomes Hanuman’s Guru. After his schooling with the Sun, Hanuman comes to be the devoted servant of Ramachandra, an avatar of Vishnu, who himself is one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities and the embodiment of chivalry and virtue.

At one point in the story, Ramachandra’s wife Sita is abducted by the demon Ravana and Hanuman must lead the monkey army to help Ramachandra recover his wife. When Ramachandra is wounded in battle and needs medicinal herbs, Hanuman uses his godlike powers and leaps to the Himalaya to gather the needed herbs. When he comes back, instead of bringing only a sprig of the herbs, he comes back with part of the mountain.

♥ It was Hanuman’s inability to do things by halves that fascinated Pamela.

The story of Hanuman is obviously a symbolic description of the journey of spiritual awakening from an animalistic self-centered person to a being with a higher consciousness that is motivated by love and the desire to serve others for the benefit and enhancement of their lives.  For Hanuman never used his godlike powers for his own benefit.

It seems to me that Pamela overlooked the spiritual aspect of the personal growth and maturity in the story and focused her attention on the loving aspect of the Servant Archetype.

Friend Monkey is really the favorite of all my books because it is based on a Hindu myth of the monkey lord who loved so much that he created chaos wherever he went.

Her Wounded Child’s needy nature mistakenly identified itself with Hanuman’s acts of service. But Hanuman’s help was selfless and did not expect anything in return. The Wounded Child expected plenty. I couldn’t find any indication anywhere (be it in her biography, in the documentaries about her life or in her own writings) that she ever acted in a selfless way. How could’ve she? Her unrecognized Wounded Child could not act as a mature individual, it needed to be healed first.

♥ And, I infer from the quote above that she interpreted her neediness as the excessive expression of her love. One thing is certain; she created chaos in all her intimate relationships including the one with her adoptive son.

As for the story of Friend Monkey, I couldn’t quite make the link between Hanuman and the character of Friend Monkey, besides the fact that they are both monkeys and have the same physical appearance: white fur around the neck and a white spot on the forehead. What is more, it is Friend Monkey who needs to be saved in Pamela’s story.

♥ However, I found some intriguing material in the story of Friend Monkey which I believe to be Pamela’s unconscious expression of her Wounded/Orphan Child Archetype. And this will be the subject of next week’s post.

The Lover Archetype and Friend Monkey (Part I)

Pamela L. Travers lover.JPG

This week’s post will explore how Pamela L. Travers’s Wounded and Orphan Child archetypes overpowered the positive expression of her Lover archetype.  (For those of you who are coming to this blog for the first time, note that I am using the energetic archetypal models elaborated by Caroline Myss)

So, let’s start. What is the Lover Archetype and how can you tell if you have it in your psyche? You have the Lover in you if you not only are romantically inclined, but also if you exhibit great passion, devotion, and intense affection and have appreciation of someone or something that influences the organization of your entire life and environment.

For Pamela writing and fairy tales proved to be the true love of her life. However, there is more to the inner workings of her Lover archetype and its interaction with the energetical patterns of the Wounded and Orphan Child than this obvious manifestation in Pamela’s life.

Pamela was needy of others love and acceptance. Her neediness expressed itself in the form of exaggerated demands and unrealistic expectations from others. When these expectations were not met, it only confirmed her inner beliefs established during her early childhood: she was not worthy of love and people cannot be trusted.

♥ Love was not safe. This is what Pamela had to say about the Lover Archetype:

The loved can sit in the lap of time and play with their toys and sleep. The lover has to watch and pray. He is involved with the nature of things, simply by being a lover. He has to grind his own grain; no other bread will feed him. It is he, going forward against the thorn, who needs to be treasured and cared for; the loved are always safe.”

The same message is spoken by the character of Johnny Delaney, the hero of a short story inspired by Pamela’s childhood memories. These are his warning words to the parents in the story:

Yez must watch her keenly when I’m gone.” But our mother had her eye on her darling, the beautiful second sister. “But surely, Johnny,’ she protested, it’s she we must watch.”

Johnny eyed her viciously. “She’s safe. She has her nose in herself. But this wan’s black with loving.”

Black with loving! It says it all! Pamela’s neediness is almost palpable.  And just as Johnny predicted it, Pamela did get in trouble. Her lifelong search for love was messy and sorrowful.

♥ I suspect that the unsatisfied, unconscious needs from her childhood distorted her Lover Archetype. It manifested itself in Pamela’s life as intense, obsessive passions (be it with men, women or myths) that I believe had a destructive effect on her mental health.

As soon as Pamela arrived in England, in her twenties, she established contact with George Russell, one of her father’s worshiped poets, and the editor of the renowned literary magazine The Irish Statesman.” She sent Russell some poems and he wrote back. Afterward, he introduced her to Yeats (another admired poet by her father) and into the Irish literary society. He also initiated her in the meaning of fairy tales, myth, the spirit world, and Eastern religions.

Russell, although married, loved women and was always courting the young ones. As much as he was encouraging Pamela in the pursuit of her creative expression, I doubt that he had a beneficial effect on her self-esteem. He called her Mary Poppins, Popkins, and he wrote to her about his other flings, and I don’t know of any woman who would like that. He did not make her feel special in that way, just like her parents never made her feel special in her childhood:

You know I have much discrimination in girls, I have known many, and always made friends of the nice ones, like you.

This is an excerpt of a letter he sent to one of the nice ones: “I am a poet and I fall in love with every pretty face and I am not fickle for I remember them all and never turn away from them.”

Was it the age difference between them or Russell’s self-awareness that prevented the consumption of the relationship? This will remain a mystery but it is probably the lack of physical intimacy that allowed their relationship to evolve into a friendship that survived for a decade and until Russell’s death. There might have been an additional reason for the duration of the relationship. Pamela was pragmatic too. She needed protection and she needed his contacts and recommendations. That must have helped her to accept his emotional unavailability.

It was for another Irish poet, Francis Macnamara, a few years later to crush her heart and her hopes of ever finding a husband. Macnamara was younger and much more attractive than Russell.

Pamela described him as “very beautiful, fair, highly intellectual, loved by women and envied by men.

Macnamara was a true Don Juan, a serial adulterer. He had no true interest in Pamela. When he married for a third time with a woman younger than his own daughter, Pamela was truly distressed and started experiencing dizzy spells. She was 38 years old and that was way past “finding husband” time. It is also around that period of time that Pamela began to think about adopting a child, but this shall be the subject of a future post.

I believe that Pamela experienced Macnamara’s rejection as yet another proof that she was not good enough or deserving of love. Additionally, his rejection only made her more obsessed with him.  In the last years of her life, she began dreaming about him and as reported by her biographer, “One night, she imagined that she was alone with him. They could never speak of their love when he was alive. In her dream she was free to do so. Macnamara listened, nodded, and murmured that he understood completely.” 

♥ I suspect that Macnamara’s poetic aura appealed to Pamela’s Wounded Child. He was the only one to come close to Pamela’s fantasy of the ideal man; the idolized picture  of her father. Travers Goff did not write poetry (at least not that we know of) but he loved poems and Irish poets. “He was proud and haughty, terribly gay and terribly amusing and poetic and always singing and quoting poems and weeping over them.” He also had good looks and loved the bottle, just like Macnamara, who was remembered as “a boozer happy in a pub.” Neither men ever accomplished anything of significance and both men died unsatisfied with their lives. 

This unconscious inner connection remained in Pamela’s blind spot. 

After Macnamara, no other man (other than her adopted son) entered her life. This was, in all likelihood, because she was not in her prime youth, had an adoptive son, and suffered from many physical ailments related to her anxiety issues.

There are speculations and some suggestive hints in her biography that point to Pamela entertaining romantic relationships with women although there is no clear proof of that. There was her long-term roommate Madge Burnand, then Jessie Orage and Gertrude Hermes. All these relationships are reported to have been intense and they all ended on a bitter note for unclear reasons. The implied turbulence (and even violence) in some of these relationships could be the indication of some co-dependency patterns.

♥ Disappointed by all her relationships Pamela escaped into myth, obsessively seeking a road map for her life.

In her apartment on 52nd Street, she opened her old books on myths, pored over them into the night, felt the satisfaction of studying a jigsaw of names and connections that helped her make order of her own life.

Fairy tales were Pamela’s escape route during childhood. They fed her imagination and her rebellious nature. Unfortunately, they proved insufficient aid in her adult years.

Pamela, for all her fertile imagination, was unable to keep her feet firmly on the ground. This is the reason why her obsession with myths and fairy tales was neither healthy nor helpful. Myths provided no answers to her questions or any practical applications in her life. Rather, they alienated her from others and made the ordinary world feel unsatisfying and depressing. She was always looking for something else, something behind the ordinary but I doubt she really got a glimpse of it.

♥ Pamela liked to think that we all have our personal myth and that hers was the myth of Hanuman. In an undated letter to friends, Pamela writes about her book Friend Monkey:

You know how long I have brooded on Hanuman. The book is about that aspect of him (not him but as it were a thousandth descendant of his) that is excessive, that can’t do anything by halves, the ever loving and self-forgetting creature that because of his ever-love creates difficulties inevitably in the world around him; and his effect on the human beings who minister to him. Maybe it’s a book about learning to love.”

Or maybe it is a book that reveals more about Pamela L. Travers’s unresolved childhood issues. Friend Monkey will be the subject of next week’s post. I hope you’ll come back and read some more.