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.
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.