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The other day I connected the dots on some half-conscious worry I’ve been having about my podcasts. I want to share my insight.

I listen to dozens of podcasts for I love them so. Several of them are about history while more are science-based (astronomy, biology, and psychology). Nearly all of them fall  into the common category of ‘being educational”.  I love learning; I have a rapacious appetite for knowledge.  The results of my greedy enterprise are I now have dozens of podcasts subscriptions*. Most of them put out new episodes on a continual basis. Every  morning there are new entries and I want to hear each and every one of them. Unfortunately this is beginning to resemble the ‘I Love Lucy episode’ with the chocolate wrapping conveyor belt:  too many are coming too quickly for me to ingest. After all, there are only so many free hours in the day – even by ‘doubling up a podcast with an activity such as ironing or walking the dog.  It seems at no time is my phone off but it is ‘getting caught up’ with podcasts all trying to teach me things.

The axioms “I can’t have it all” and “I can’t learn everything I want” are no-brainer insights. The revelation at hand was brought to me via one of my favorite podcasts “Hello from the Magic Tavern”**  This one is not educational. Far from it!  It is ‘fun’ ; it has no educational value whatsoever. It is the equivalent of eating a bag of nasty chips with a whole lot of cheese-dip. Oh so delicious!  When I last listened to it, I discovered I was feeling guilty I should be listening to something ‘good for me’ like ‘The Daily’.  Eh? What’s this!? While Ego was asleep at the switch some inner-whistle blower Complex has taken over my down time schedule and declared no education = wasting time.  I am not sure yet of its origins (an analysis in progress).

I have christened this complex “Tiger Mom”.

“Tiger mom is a mother raising her children in a traditional Chinese way, including strict rules, tough love, and discipline to get children to succeed.”

So much of my ‘down time’ is geared towards “improving myself”; I look down on ‘wasting time’.  Even my YouTube past times are towards the science and learning channels.   Go to my bookshelf and look at the ‘to read’ list. I can assure you they are classics and such.

So what the f-ck is wrong with reading rubbish or listening to a podcast on wizards and talking Badgers just for the sheer pleasure of doing so? Whence comes this inner Tiger Mom?  I need to know soon as this sense of cramming cosmic crud into my cranium is getting a bit wearing. What I really want is junk food, trash reading, and doggerel entertainment with no redeeming properties whatsoever.

The first step at shrinking The Tiger Mom Complex is recognition it is not Ego. The second step is taking action. I am now deleting podcast entries if they don’t immediately grab my interest. If I  listen to one and it isn’t floating my goat I will stop it. The next step is letting go of books that bore me despite the notion to plod through it for the sake of saying I have read it.

 By the way, Someone isn’t in touch with his Tiger Mom or he has kicked her out ages ago. He can watch TV for hours and feel no regret or sense he is wasting time or he ought to be doing something to improve himself.

Tiger Moms apparently push their children towards ‘success in life”. One could argue I got that now, so what the hell? I will always want to grow and learn and improve myself, but I think Tiger Mom can let up now. There is no test anymore to pass.

This weekend I may try watching Archer cartoons all Saturday.  Meanwhile I deleted the Ted-talks on global warming and the “Very Bad Words” episode on the the history of the @-hole word for the next set of Hello From the Magic Tavern.

Yeah, baby!


*On request I will gladly provide Spo-fans the list of recommendations.

**Three improv actors do a podcast from the mythical Land of Foon. Arnie fell through a timehole behind a Burger King in Chicago into Foon, where he hosts a weekly podcast with his two buddies Usidore the Blue and Chunt the talking Badger. It is a cross between The Firesign Theatre and Dungeons&Dragons. It is hilarious and quite worth a look-see.


Spo-fans recall (or learning now) I’ve had a long time project since junior high school of creating a map consisting of every mythical legendary and imaginary person, place, or thing there is (or never was). I keep a running list handy so when I think of something I  can jot it down for a later evaluation for entry into “The Timeless Lands of Erewhon”.  “Uncle Wiggly” was recently brought to my attention,  which got me thinking about this character and his cohorts.  He was a rabbit (on crutches) in a series of books with many companions.  I remember Uncle Wiggly not from books but from a board game.

As a young boy I was disturbed by the game for it gave me the heebie-jeebies.  As a player you had to get by several nasty characters on your way to the goal of visiting Dr. Possum. One particular character evoked the most anxiety.  He was a tall, dark, stick-like character like that of a crane. He had a long piercing beak and he seemed to have elements of a black widow spider– or so my memory goes.  I haven’t thought of him in ages, but he remember he haunted me in my youth; he would sometimes show up in my dreams. I recall avoiding the game knowing I would have to see him and get past him to proceed on my journey.  To a six year old this was major impediment.


Thanks to my recent research into Uncle Wiggly I came across a photo of the game board. You can see the demon is in the upper left hand corner of the board.  Notice to you have to go into his mouth with its piercing sharp tongue and out his back-end. The Freudians would have a hay-day analyzing my six year old terror on the topic!

Thanks to Wikipedia I have learned it’s name:  Skeezicks.*


Skeezicks! I have used this word all my life and still do. I thought it was a generic word but apparently it originates from the Uncle Wiggly books?I often call Harper ‘Skeezicks’ so she won’t prick up her ears at her name being said: “I am taking Skeezicks for a walk”. Imagine! All this time my inner demon has been lurking like a hidden squatter in my house and psyche (as subconscious complexes do) !

I plan on reading ‘The Uncle Wiggle’ books  at least the books; I want to eject the nasty bird from my psyche. Last night I did NOT have bad dreams after all this insight. I take this as a good sign the fellow has been discovered and rendered harmless.  There is nothing like exposing the complexes for the shams they are to make them innocuous (think of Dorothy et. al. when they realize there is a man behind the curtain).  I feel good to have faced another childhood demon and come out well.


*This photo from the internet is marvelous from a Jungian point of view. Uncle Wiggly as Ego is having his house (Pscyhe) invaded by the Skeezicks the Shadow-Complex.  Skeezicks looks powerful while Uncle W (with his rheumatism and candy cane crutches) looks too frail to fight. He is going to have to put up a pretty stiff battle to eject S from his household – or at least get him to behave. Happily Wiggly has a Friend complex with him to help him.  



Some of the blogs I admire most are written by men and women going through difficult times. In Jungian terms they are into The Journey, the part of life that isn’t certain nor comfortable.  Jung used the Greek word nekyia to describe the “perilous adventure of the night sea journey”, which he described as a “descent into the dark world of the unconscious”. These heroic bloggers are trying to survive and make sense of their lives which have become like unmoored boats without charts to guide them. We all go on nekyia to some degree and most folks will face a major one at least once in their lifetime.  The bloggers I am referencing deal with some whoppers. Their writings help them make meaning of what they are suffering; their readers provide witnessing to their efforts.


In contrast Urs Truly isn’t facing anything even close to a crisis. My Dark Journeys and troll-battles happened in my 20s and 30s.  I had to face issues most men have to deal with in later life.  Happily I got through them with with gained wisdom – and I got them out of the way early.

On the negative, my life feels at times banal; my problems are quite ordinary old-man problems. Instead of channeling Warrior and Hero energies I make sure I get enough sleep. I watch that I take my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.  There is no Equus torment – or passion.

Careful here. I am most grateful for a happy life without turmoil or threat. I do not ‘need’ demons to fight. All the same, I need some Hero energy back in my life.

It is OK to accept quiet good fortune with gratitude and let things be. However have you ever noticed Man’s stories are about The Journey. After the Journey ends, so the does the story, because what comes next in happily ever after may be pleasant but it isn’t very interesting. A positive way to evoke Journey and Hero energy is to step out of your comfort zone and perhaps do some travel.  Yes, I think that would be good for me.


3aed9afbe77048aa86b5f1626b574025  Staying home happy may safe and comfortable, but Bilbo Baggins did well to leave the Shire. I need not worry. Psyche finds ways to shake things up if she feels there is compliancy or a lesson to learn. I merely need to be conscious of opportunity – and be content if the gods will it so.




Krampusnacht is less than a week away and I haven’t done a thing. I’ve had no time to buy Krampusgeschenken or plot taking away the neighborhood children.

For Spo-fans not familiar with Krampus he is a rather nasty demon who travels with St. Nicholas around Europe in early December.  St. Nick gives treats to the good children while Herr Krampus drags away the bad children bound and gagged to goodness knows where apparently to eats the malaperts after first  scaring the crickets out of them.  I never heard of this rather unpleasant but practical fellow until recently. He seems to be growing in popularity including North America, surpassing the Grinch and Scrooge as the poster-boy of Christmas darkness and defiance.   He seems to have quite a following these days.

Psyche abhors imbalance in Jungian psychology. If something is ‘all good’ then Shadow must exist and be recognized.  Mr. Krampus does a fine job filling this need.  St. Nick and he make a lovely balanced couple.  Santa Claus has only a measly lump of coal to suggest he has a bad side; from a psychological view he is a wash. For a while The Grinch did OK as the Shadow of Christmas but over time he’s become sugar-coated and watered-down to make him less nasty and consequentially less useful.  Small wonder Herr K is on the rise.


I don’t know how St.Nick and Krampus deduce who deserves a toy and who deserves having their ears boxed but if they need help I am ready for a consult. I have a handy list for thems I would like to see hauled away in wicker baskets yes indeed.  The notion of slapping about impudent bratty people etc. is an uncharitable but delicious thought.

Needless to say I’ve not been at all nice this year and I am beyond coal lumps. If anyone deserves torture Krampus-style it is Urs Truly.  Perhaps I can plea-bargain with The Krampus to become his minion rather than Mittagessen.  Dressing up in devilish clothes with big horns sounds jolly good fun.  I may go to the office party donned now in such gay apparel.




I very much enjoy the podcast “Hello from the Magic Tavern”, which is a jolly good fun.  Think of a combination of Firesign Theatre and Dungeons and Dragons. One of the podcast’s charms is its zany spin on the Archetype “Stranger in a Strange Land”. Arnie, a man from Chicago, has fallen through a magic portal (located in a Burger King) into the magical land of Foon. He is trying to make sense of it all while trying to fit in as best he can.

The Stranger is often put there not on his or her free will but by fate or accident. Alice falls down the rabbit hole; Dorothy is whisked away to the Land of Oz.  Joe Gillis makes a wrong turn and ends up in the world of Norma Desmond.  Stranger in a Strange Land isn’t just found in fiction. History is full of such types.

Once in the Strange Land The Stranger has to come to terms with the natives, who often don’t understand or trust The Stranger “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” Choiceless, The Stranger has a choice to assimilate or figure out how to get home.  Lawrence of Arabia does the former;  Dorothy of Kansas does the latter.  Oliver Wendell Douglas is a comic spin on the archetype. He doesn’t try to leave but wants Hooverville to assimilate to his ways. Oh the pain.

We are in touch with this archetype whenever we enter a situation where there are people we don’t know.  When we start a new job or join a club or church the archetype is evoked.  I felt such when I traveled last week to Charleston and Savannah; I was a stranger in a strange land.

The archetype reminds us The Stranger and The Strange Land need each other.  The Stranger won’t survive or get home without help from The Strange Land. The Strange Land is always touched and altered by the Stranger. We can’t grow staying at home; we only grow when we enter The Strange Land.  It is scary and uncomfortable and even hazardous but necessary.


Note: I wrote this entry mostly as an exercise to help me focus into consciousness a set of emotions on a topic that is bothering me. This process of expanding the subconscious is called ‘amplification”. It doesn’t make for a comical or interesting entry.  Spo-fans and cranky Board Members have been warned. 🙂


I like to talk about The Journey, which is the Jungian archetype about ones passing through life. It highlights the elements of Self-growth and development for the time one has between cradle and grave. Sometimes I am am talking out of my other end on the topic for I don’t any clue what is my Journey.

Mind! There is no written script on what constitutes The Journey. There is nothing preordained. Indeed, having thought out yours like a AAA triptych is not Journey at all. What makes the gods laugh most is when you tell them your plans. By definition, The Journey is what you encounter when you remain open to what may happen. Frodo Baggins said it best “I will take the ring though I do not know the way”.


All the same, I want some sort of guidance. The Cheshire Cat’s assurance if I walk long enough I will get somewhere is at times no comfort.

So what’s missing? The answer: future goals. I pepper the months of each year with events and things to look forward. These include the traditional holidays, away-from-home seminars, and vacations. In contrast there is nothing in the bigger picture such as what I want to accomplish by 60 or 70 or where I want to retire (if I should achieve such) or even what do I want out of life.

Spo-fans know I inherited from The Lovely Neighbor several stacks of cooking magazines which I am slowly rummaging for recipes. I tear out the interesting looking ones and tuck them away for a nebulous ‘some day’. I recently got all of them out from the accordion file and I sorted them into categories. There are scores of them, ranging from appetizers to vegetable dishes. My first emotional response at surveying the piles on the dining room table is even if I were to start right now I could not make all of them in my lifetime. So, when am I going to make them? Is this my future goal, my Journey?  If so it is it seems a bit mawkish and uninspiring. The point here is these piles tickle that itch to have more Purpose and to refine The Journey. I don’t know yet what to do but I sense I need to do something.

Maybe that’s what the Cheshire Cat is assuring me: not what is The Journey but which steps to take first.


“Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”



Is better to have a short life with heroism and passion or is it better to live a long and comfortable life? To other modern man the question seems a silly one. The vast majority of us want the latter: a long and prosperous life of self-care, without drama or relevance to others. We hope to live to 90 and die without leaving a mark.

This wasn’t always so. There are some who still choose a life of heroism. Often these lives are cut short yet these names live on in history as people who made a difference. Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Tecumseh come to my mind.

The Jungian archetype of the struggle between contentment and passion is The Achilles Archetype. For those who don’t remember“The Iliad”, Achilles is the son of a mortal man and a goddess. We see the dichotomy of the question in his make-up. He is told he has two paths from which to choose: he can stay home, grow old, and have a happy marriage with children, be prosperous, and then die in obscurity. The other choice: he can have a heroic meaningful life full of honor and glory but die young. He chooses the latter, and he dies in battle. By today’s standards it looks to be a useless and senseless death. Yet his name lives on in our collective consciousness as The Warrior. His story is known throughout time.

The opening quotation is from Joyce’s “The Dead”; it is a reference to a Michael Furey, who died at 17 for the love of a woman. He is in contrast to the woman’s long time nondescript spouse Gabriel Conroy. Their marriage is pleasant and stable but in her heart is the passion for the boy who loved her so.

I am one of many who choose the stay home/be quiet and try to live a long, prosperous, and uneventful life. Every once in a while, when I read the stories of such men as Achilles or Michael Furey, I too feel the pang of lack of passion. Can I have some passion in my life, although it means (but the very definition of the word) some suffering?

In this new chapter of US History the times seem to call for men and women of passion to rise up and not choose creature comforts. Even if it hurts, even if it shakes up our lives, the times call for us to get more in touch with Achilles, come out of our tent and fight even if it means some loss. Am I brave enough to do so? Are you?

The movie “Fantastic beasts and where to find them” seems be all the rage. Urs Truly is quite familiar with such having adored them since he was knee-high to a cockatrice. For my timeless map of Erewhon I’ve been collecting mythical animals all my life. In my teens I played Dungeons & Dragons, which has a veritable encyclopedia of monsters.

Mankind has always had and needed fantastical beasts. This includes a need for gods, goddesses, ghosts, and fairy folk. I have a panache for the nefarious and destructive ones, to wit, the monsters. I thought I would talk about a few of my favorites from a Jungian point of view. Monsters carry our dark sides; we project our Shadow parts out onto made-up entities who carry our crud for us.

This particular bestiary has monster that hold particular archetypal energy; the creatures therein have important elements that resonate with our psyches. I listed them in a somewhat chronological order.

tha8nivs3w The Vampire. Vampires are ubiquitous in folklore throughout time and cultures. They vary but have in common they are something dead/undead that lives off of blood of the living. They probably originate from our fear of parasites or fears of being prey to something coming at us in the night when we sleep. Most of the time The Vampire has an erotic element to it. Dr. Freud cackles in his grave as Vampires support his Love and Death libido drive hypothesis. Many tales about vampires are vague references to sexual trysts, the phantom lover, who comes in the night (pun intended) and steals our souls in its exploitation. Curious: recent vampires are less ghoulish and more romantic bad-boy anti-hero lover. Every culture gets the vampire it wants, but its essence remains the same.

thv81p41upCentaur/Faun/Satyr.  These creatures are half human and half animal. The animal parts have brutish and sexual elements. They capture the ambivalence and paradox of the struggle between our higher functioning and ‘base’ emotions. The upper part – human – has the intellect (and no sexual organs) while the lower part – animal – has the phallus and the prowness of (uninhibited) sexuality and action. Mankind has long been envious of animal energies and fearful of our own. Like The Vampire these archetypes have been altered to suit the needs of each generation. Centaurs have become more ‘scholarly’ but still studly and potentially dangerous. Fauns are seen as more liberating man of self-restraint than causing them to panic (pun intended).

thf6dul6e3 Werewolf. This is another ancient animal archetype playing on our fears we are not so separate from animals. We fear becoming the creatures that used to prey on us. We project our preying on each other onto wolves (or other carnivorous creatures) who stalk us. Were-creatures are often powerless to stop their transformation which is often brought on by night and the moon, the time of fear and darkness.

thaje45745 Goblin  – I lump goblins, knockers, kobolds, elves, brownies etc. into the common category of little people who cause upset and mischief. They are our collective scapegoat. If something goes wrong, rather than blaming ourselves or attributing mishap to mere bad luck we create a little person who is responsible. In WWII when mechanical things went wrong we invented The Gremlin. Curiously we haven’t updated this archetype to computer errors/glitches and cellphone problems. There is no recent elf of which I am aware. My brothers tend to use Bill Gates or Steve Jobs who serve the purpose but don’t make for satisfactory goblin-types. A more sinister hypothesis: we no longer have to create a mythical problem race but use whatever ethnic group is handy.

thl81hhvsg The Bogeyman exists in many forms in many cultures but he is always the monster man who snatches away bad children. My nephews revel in stories of Slender Man, which is the millennial version of The Bogeyman. We are coming up to St. Nicholas Day. The traditional St. Nicholas travels with a Bogeyman to balance the psyche of good/benevolent with the bad/malevolent. Go look up Black Tom or the Krampus why don’t you. It’s curious our modern day Santa Claus does not travel with a Shadow consort. I don’t know the reason that was dropped. Probably because we like to deny our Shadow parts (them sorts live elsewhere, in Europe or the Middle East)  We had to invent one to fill the archetypal need for a bogey man at Christmas time: The Grinch.

the285nrnm Cthulhu – For thems not aware of this beastie, he is a Lovecraft invention. He is a behemoth with a face like a squid. He is Annihilation incarnate. This nasty beast seems to be rising in popularity as youngsters see the future as bleak and nihilistic. As one youngster remarked, the Cthulhu reminds us the universe is expanding and will become nothing in the end. It is all futile. Grim dark dreadful thoughts are often sugar-coated to make them less depressing and overwhelming. There is a lot of cutesy counterparts to this archetype. You can get lovable stuffed Cthulhu toys and Christmas ornaments for the holidays.

thsdjyozfe Godzilla – The big G has expanded out of Japan and into the world’s psyche. Why? I have two theories. Godzilla acts on impulse, like an unrestrained child having a tantrum. When he gets upset he breaks things; when he walks it is like a large toddler.  Whether it was consciously determined, the original Godzilla was an actor in a rubber suit. This gels with the notion Godzilla is an element of being hum. Godzilla hasless archetypal energy when Godzilla is merely a computer generated object. Godzilla touches on our envy to just “let loose” when we are perturbed. The other explanation for his attraction is more serious: Godzilla carries our collective fear and guilt for having let loose atomic weapons. He is what we deserves for being foolish with nature.

At heart I am a scientist. I advocate reason, scientific observation and data over dogma and superstition. I have many misgivings about this last election, but one of the most upsetting ones is the sense of triumph of religious and emotional clap-trap over facts. Science and knowledge are not cherished in this country. Indeed, they are looked upon as an object of suspicion, something to shout down when Truth threatens conviction.

I also have a panache for fantasy. A world run by Gradgrinds would be a dismal one indeed. As a Jungian I know the Wisdom to periodically put down the calculator and go out roller-skating surmounted by a Viking helmet.

I recently heard an interview with Terry Gilliam, a director who made many marvelous movies, most of them with the leitmotif fantasy versus reality. I remember a scene from “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen”.   For Spo-fans unfamiliar with The Baron Munchhausen, he was a real person who would boast fantastical and outlandish tales he allegedly experienced. His name is now synonymous with outlandish unreality. In Medicine “Munchhausen syndrome” is a mental illness where the patient takes on fake illnesses for medical attention. Not good.  But from a Jungian point of view, it is vital to be in touch with The Baron.

In the Mr. Gilliam’s movie there is a scene where the Baron, Fantasy incarnate, lies dejected. A little girl named Polly wants to know is he really The Baron and why he wants to die. It is a marvelous archetypal scene: The Child (innocent and curious) trying to get in touch with The Baron (fantasy and adventure):

The Baron and Polly go on marvelous adventures to defeat the enemy. Fascinating: the Enemy is ultimately not the Turk outside the city walls they are forbidden to cross, but the oppressive government within the walls stifling the people and perpetuating continuous war – ironically set “In the Age of Reason”

We need cucumber trees and three-legged cyclops more than ever. I worry all too soon Kim Jong-Trump and his henchmen will demand us to think in one way only and believe false facts. What may keep us sane is challenging authority via Truth and Fantasy. The Scientist and The Baron, arm in arm, make a formidable team against Ignorance and Authority.  Keep learning, stay curious, and plant some cucumber trees.

Withdrawing from the world into the inner recesses of my mind gives  opportunity to encounter the demons within. Observant Spo-fans see the motto of my blog is the Ibsen quote:

To live is to battle with trolls in the vaults of heart and brain.

Like many I have to somehow manage my anger, hurt, and bitternness without succumbing to them. I can not become a replicate of those I presently want to label monstrous and inhuman. Synchronicity is at work:  I was recently listening to some history on Martin Luther. Martin Luther often came to the conclusion those with different opinions other than his own were ‘anti-Christ”.  This is convenient; when someone or something is Anti-Christ you don’t have to bother with reasoning with them or seeing them right about some things and wrong about others or merely agreeing to disagree – you expunge them as 100% wicked with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. You do not try to work with or reform the Anti-Christ; you eliminate him. Tempting as this is I must not do likewise.

One of Dr. Jung’s greatest contributions to human psychology is the concept of The Shadow, on which I have written.  It is not a question ‘Do I have a shadow?” but “Where is my shadow now?”  Unlike the Archetype of Anti-Christ you do not eliminate Shadow; you come to terms with it – and make sure it does not unconsciously run the show.*


Another event of Synchronicity occurred last night: I suddenly remembered the story of St. Gallus and the bear. It is story worth repeating.

Centuries ago St. Gallus went to the mountains of  Switzerland to preach to the pagans and convert them to Christianity. No one would house him; he had no shelter. In time he found a cave. He moved in and felt fortunate to finally have shelter from the storms. Then he discovered living in the back of the cave was a horrible large truculent black bear. The two came to loggerheads.  The bear would not leave and St. Gallus could not fight the beast. So St. Gallus sat down with the bear and they struck a bargain:  the bear would allow him to stay in the cave and in return Gallus would provide their food and fire.  A few other stipulations: the bear would gather the firewood and Gallus would protect the bear from the locals who had long wanted to kill it.

This story illustrates our psyches. We must come to terms with our inner-bear rather than trying to drive it away or slay him. What strife or fights lie ahead is anybody’s guess. One thing’s for certain: inner-bear Shadow energy is not the key to vanquish The Collective Shadow.


*Alas, the USA is now running in full-forward in Shadow mode.


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