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I’ve gone more pagan this Christmas as demonstrated via my fondness for The Icelandic Yule Lads and their various relatives trapping about on the European continent at this time of the year. The Winter-man Archetype of the old man who provides some goodness at the winter solstice* has either a Shadow side to him or some sort of malevolent side-kick. Usually this pal is in the shape of a monstrous demon; he beats/whips/eats/carries off the kiddies who had been nasty that year. The two make a balanced pair like a staid old couple. North America’s Santa Claus has no ‘Shadow side” but the threat of a lump of coal if you are bad which no ones gets anyway. Carl Jung said when there is no balance Psyche strives to make such. We’ve done a good job filling this sorely needed post in the creation of The Grinch and/or the adaptation of The Krampus. Jung must be laughing in his grave.

One doesn’t have to scratch deep to uncover the archaic and it’s even easier to do at Christmas as so much of the holiday is borrowed from ancient practices and beliefs. My Protestant ancestors smelled a rat about the whole thing and they weren’t wrong. If you take away the pagan parts of the holiday it looks as empty as a grocery shelf in the south the day before a predicted snow storm. They went so far as to ban the whole thing.** Curious!  The modern Puritan takes the opposite approach about banning the holiday as a pagan travesty and thrusts the greeting of ‘Merry Christmas’ at you like a slap across your face.  Back to Herr Jung I suspect this is why Krampus/Grinch are coming back into consciousness.  The birth of The Divine Child is an archetype in itself but it lacks ‘Shadow” – no fun that. We need something to balance the sweet saccharine of the Nativity scene.***

This Christmas I am channeling as much munificent ‘Yule energy’ as possible to provide my parents with what they need this season> this may be much hohohoing but assistance in lifting. Krampus energy will be brought out in case of emergencies especially if my dear siblings and niblings are too in touch with their Spo Energies.  Oh the pain. As stated it doesn’t take much to get quickly in touch with the archaic. I hope the switches are strong enough.


*It is more appropriate nowadays to call this event “The December solstice” not the “The Winter solstice”. It helps to remind us Northern Hemisphere-centered folks half the word is not experiencing cold and darkness but the opposite.

**It didn’t work. People like to party.

***The Divine Child isn’t lacking a bad guy. Remember King Herod? There is always some evil adult not wanting his/her power usurped.


Brother #4 texted he recently saw “Curse of the Demon” which he thought was “stupid”. This is a disappointment. I remember when we were lads Brother #2 and I were scared silly by this movie; we locked the bedroom door and set up booby traps lest the demon come in in the night and pass us the runes and eat us. [1] Despite our fears of demons Brothers #1-3 (apparently not #4) were intrigued by such beings. Our Halloween decorations always included devils in their Jungle Red tights and pitchforks. [2]


untitled Demons have existed throughout time and in every culture because they are archetypes – and Urs Truly loves an archetype. [3] Maleficent supernatural beings vary in their size, shape, intelligence, and motives but they are on the whole a nasty lot. Where they come from and who made them and what is their point isn’t always clear. Like Santa going to all houses on Christmas Eve it’s best not to think about it.  Like many monsters demons have evolved over time into entities that are silly, cute, or sexy. This is a pity for demons were handy creatures to blame for all wrong-doings and fears.  Demons were a kind of solution.

The western civilization psyche takes the approach if you can’t suppress something baptize it into the Christian mythos. Demons in the western world are fallen angels the henchmen of Satan. It is curious to read the history books about folks who were accused of trafficking with demons. A lot of demonic intercourse was literally that: sexual.  Men were seduced in the night by Succubi while the medieval women were ravaged by Incubi.  Demons (the male ones) were often described having  ponderous phalluses and appetites. One gets the impression ‘demon’ was just a euphemism for hot and uninhibited sex.  I am all for hot unbridled sex but I prefer my demons without this sort of morality.  In the lingo of Dungeons and Dragons demons from the East are ‘chaotic evil’  while the ones in the West are ‘lawful evil’. [4]  Despite our collective horror of demonic  influence and possession we like to dress up and parade around as demons both to scare off the ‘real ones’ and to revel in their deviltry.

Jung said we cannot deny nor destroy The Shadow and this includes Demons. . We must be wary and be on guard for them and their shenanigans yet revel in their Shadow energy. They make our psyches whole. Despite their ugliness demons have vivacity and who doesn’t like a good scare?



[1] I saw the movie again later on in life and I thought it would be a scarier movie if the director hadn’t fully shown the demon. Sensing ‘there is something there” is always more spooky/scary than an actual monster.

[2] People are nebbish nowadays about devils at Halloween as this feeds the anger of The Fundies who see Halloween as a satanic ritual. Not only they can’t take a joke but they don’t know their history.  Oh the pain.

[3] The Archetypes I work for are being difficult. Some demon possessed them to shampoo the rugs in The Board Room, which hasn’t seen soap since the time of King Cnut. Several carpets just fell apart. I daresay it was the dirt that was holding them together. Now TBDHSR are obliged to go to Crate & Barrel. Oh the horror.

[4] I suspect this reflects my own proclivities about things but I shan’t go there.


Before the Sunday matinee [1] The Arizona Opera had outside in the lobby a table replete with hats, bonnets, boas, and other wearing apparel to pass the time until curtain call. You donned some gay apparel and got your photo taken. As you can see I chose the crown. Other than Burger King paper-types Urs Truly has never worn a crown he remembers. There was no archbishop to lay it one me; like Napoleon I had to do it myself.  Ensconced on my pate the crown made me feel very virile and noble. I wanted to say to the others in the lobby arise my people and look me in the face but no one paid me any attention but the next one in line waiting her turn to stand in front of the Arizona Opera sign. 

It’s good to be King. 

‘King’ is a very important archetype; it is vital for men to get in touch with it. [2]. I have heaps of Lover and Magician energy but not much King. I’ve struggled all my life claiming my crown as it were. As a boy I didn’t feel worthy of such and many seemed to agree. One of the aspects of King energy is honor: you are seen as a strong leader, particularly by your fellow men.  A gay man has a hard time with this.  Another area where I continually strive for King energy is at work.  Being an employee (not the owner) makes it hard to touch and carry King energy. 

Of course, every archetype has its negative/Shadow energy.  Good King energy is a first among others, who takes council; he is not a dictator nor is he surrounded by yes men. He takes ultimate responsibility; he doesn’t blame others when the kingdom fails.  

Some say King energy is outdated and it should be scrapped:

Number one: this is an embedded archetype in our collective Psyche; it isn’t going away. 
Number two: attempts to replace it is ‘president’ energy or emasculate it  is not going to work either.  People who want  the King beheaded should rightfully balk at Shadow-King energy – but not the King. 

I will probably have to work on King energy all my life, allowing myself to claim it like Arthur pulling the sword out from the stone. I need not be afraid of its power and awesome responsibilities. [3] 

All these thoughts ran though my head after as I wore and then put down the crown.  It was made of some sort of foam rubber – not metal and fine jewels as should a proper crown. True King energy is isn’t bestowed from without but from within.


This noble stone King sits in my office; he reminds me of his presence within me. 


[1] “Fidelio” for thems curious which one. 

[2] Spo-fans of the female sort have “Queen” energy – not queen as the spouse of the king but queen as the one in charge. Think Queen Victoria or Catherine the Great. 

[3] An immature or avoidant man doesn’t want King energy but to stay as Prince or Child or something like that. It is not mature male energy. We all know these sorts. These types in charge of a proper King make a poor country. I won’t name names here. 

I am not a fan of Robert Heinlein. There are many reasons for this but one of them is about the traits of his novels’ heroes. They are often ‘The self-sufficient man’. The fellows could do everything themselves thus never needing help from others. Mr. Heinlein extols his readers (mostly boys) to be likewise and he castigates thems who do not. Asking for help is a sign of failure. The truth is the opposite: we continually need help. We are a species that evolved to live in groups and cooperate to achieve our survival. All day long we seek assistance from others.

Throughout my workday I listen to patients’ fears. There are usual ones like public speaking, flying, and animals with nasty pointed teeth. “Asking for help” is a subtle but ubiquitous anxiety for most, which is odd as we all do it and need to. Many people avoid asking for help as they fear rejection or the judgment of others for doing so. I think men suffer most from the Shadow side of the Self-sufficient Man archetype.*

I try to teach patients it is OK to ask for help. To better their chances of getting results and feeling good about the process I give’m a few tips. We tend to ask for help badly, You would think by now we would be good at it. Many ask do so in an apologetic manner (I’m sooo sorry to bother you) and don’t communicate the specifics.  We often ask for help via text or email thinking this is the best way. Studies support the opposite: we are much more likely to get a ‘yes’ reply if we ask for help face to face or a phone call. Another matter to consider: we are awful at registering a person wants or needs help, yet people often assume our loved ones can sense we need help so they don’t directly ask and become upset when the others don’t pick up on our allegedly obvious vibes. I can’t remember the exact term for thi, but it is based on the illusion of transparency. Bottom line: you have to ask, even those you think should be able to read your mind.

When I need help I first tell my Self-Sufficient Man Complex shaming me yeah, I hear you but buzz off. Then find the person I want to ask and do so face to face. “I need your help” I say. Then I state in simple, realistic, and clear words what I want. “I need you to call this patient back for me to say she needs to come in” or “I want you please to call Hector (the groundskeeper) to come tidy up the yard” or “Thank you! I can’t get into my account I want you to help me figure out why not”.   Another tip: if there help was helpful, tell them about it later. “I wanted to let you know your help was really helpful, thank you”.

Let’s stop giving The Self-Sufficient Man more libido (psychic energy) than he needs or deserves.



*The cliché of men not asking for directions touches spot-on this archetype.

This is not a movie review but a Jungian psychological treatise on the large lizard.

I have just returned from seeing the new ‘Godzilla’ movie. For a couple of hours  I watched Mr. G. and his chums run around the screen. What they were doing I am not clear but that is not really the point. The audience and Urs Truly was there is see Kaiju A.K.A. Japanese monsters knock each other about. I’ve been a ‘Godzilla’ fan since my youth. I suppose I wasn’t disappointed in the movie; I got my money’s worth. The plot was one of the zaniest things I have seen on screen in a long time but I won’t go into detail lest Spo-fans reading this are planning on attending (I vote ‘yes’ you do just don’t expect Oscar performances). 

Sitting in the movie I thought about what Godzilla is rather than what he was doing. Godzilla has become an archetype in our collective psyches. Like most iconic creatures he’s changed over time. “Every generation gets the icons it needs” said one of my teachers* Godzilla is a personification of the atomic bomb. The first Godzilla movie was deadly serious with the big guy as an evil attacker (bomb) unleashed onto Japan. Over the decades Godzilla slowly transformed into the protector/guardian of all mankind not just Japan. 

In the early movies Godzilla and pals walked clumsily around model towns and knocking them down; we don’t see people actually hurt until aftewards in a scene where the children burned from radiation piled up in hospital.  Today’s movie had several shots of people being hurt by the monsters’ shenanigans. Curiously we don’t see the consequences of Godzilla. He’s seen from afar as we root him on while he busily destroys Boston. Today’s Godzilla movie has a lot of contemporary issues tied into the plot, making Godzilla not only a good guy but necessary for the survival of mankind. At one point the humans are GIVING him atomic energy to revivie him. How far we’ve come when he was the Shadow destroyer rather! 

After the movie Someone went to work leaving me home alone this afternoon. I purposely turned off the TV and phone to calm things down after all that IMAX agitation. 

I may read the online reviews  to see if people liked the movie or not. I suspect they did not but not because of the many maxims and the overacting. I think people will be disappointed when they didn’t see the Godzilla they wanted. If you put an archetype on the big screen you better be conscious what you are doing as you are playing with fire or in this case radioactive breath beams.  



*A good example is The Vampire. Think how it has changed over time from representing the Evil that was Eastern Europe to a misunderstood rebel.

I recently reheard the story of Pandora. For thems unfamiliar with this Greek myth it is a tale ultimately about keeping hope despite sorrow.  Zeus is honked off at the mortals for having power and fire and basically just for being generally happy so he designs a guaranteed disaster to wreck havoc. He creates the woman Pandora and gives her for a wedding present a jar *  – and tells her under no circumstances never to open it. She’s curious, she opens it, and all the woes of the world fly out. Mankind is forever plagued with war, death and disease, turmoil, and strip malls. However, at the bottom of the jar is one other thing: Hope. Some god (curiously, never named) but Hope in the jar out of pity for mankind so they wouldn’t despair. Despite the woes of the world there is always hope goes the tale.

One of my professors in my residency programme taught us never remove a patient’s hope. Even with the dying provide hope to help make their departure better, less uncomfortable and more meaningful.

I have lots of patients who feel hopeless. Sometimes they present their hopelessness as a sort of challenge like a gauntlet thrown down: “Find some way why I should hope my lot will ne any better”. Sometimes all the hope I can have for them is to somehow alleviate chronic suffering to feel and function a bit better.  I am daily tried by this axiom.  Presently I have a handful of patients for whom I have nothing more to offer or to give them. They still keep coming to see me despite ,my recommendations to go elsewhere (hoping they will find someone who can think of something). You would think they would take this commonsense and logical advice: why stay when someone one can’t help you. There are many reasons why they stay with me, but one of these is hope: they still hope I can do something. To ‘give up’ and go away succumbs to the awful realization I have no hope for them.

The opposite of feeling happy is not feeling sad nor is it feeling angry. When you feel sad or angry you still give a damn about something. The actual opposite of happiness is hopelessness: the emotional conclusion things will never be better or different.

There has been a rise in the rates of depression and suicides and drug abuse in the world (particularly in the USA) correlated to the sense of hopelessness. The still voice of Hope is more readily shouted down these days by the legion of woes emanating from the jar of Pandora. The challenge is to discriminate what looks hopeless but isn’t so from the things that are unfixable. Finding Hope in every situation is becoming harder to do for me.


*If you are like me you grew up hearing this tale as Pandora’s box, not a jar.  It turns out the Greek word for jar got misinterpreted as box.  The up to date versions of this myth are reusing the word jar. Also in the original myth Pandora is not an innocent done in by her human curiosity. She was purposely designed by the gods as something malevolent to do Zeus’ biding.

richard_wagner_1909755Richard Wagner’s birthday is this Wednesday. For Spo-fans unfamiliar with this composer, the more you know about him the less you like him. He was so self-centered he makes Donald Trump look good. He used people and he was horrid to everyone. On top of it all he was a racist and anti-Semitic. Hitler adored him. It is hard to believe (or stomach) this louse of a person managed to make some of the most marvelous music ever made. He was certainly not the only awful man who made good art he was arguably the one of the worst – or the worst. I think so anyway. So – how do I manage my love for his music? *

We do terrible things. It is easy to focus on our Shadow elements. We forget we are also capable of marvelous things, which are often expressed through Art in all its forms. This is particularly so for music. Sometimes I sit at the symphony, feeling sorrowful by all the ills of the world, but I listen to the divine music emanating from stage and I find solace. Art does that. Art comforts me in the axiom despite ourselves we can create beauty. Herr Wagner is not unique; he is merely the extreme example of all of us and what we have. What belongs to Art belongs to all men. We cringe at the artist yet rise by his or her creation. 

In the end I just can’t hate him as he has enriched my life so much. He helps me remember not to focus on the Shadow but on the Light. 

Viking horns


*I know many Jewish art patrons who won’t attend any operas or symphonies doing Wagner. In Israel Wagner is not played at all. In Bayreuth Germany at the Wagner Festival they play nothing but Wagner. As a Jungian I like the notion a place that is ‘all Wagner” is balanced with a place that is ‘no Wagner”. 

Spo-fans know I am trained in Jungian psychology; when I am work on self-awareness I explore such in the lexicon of complexes and archetypes.* I’ve noticed some sort of complex is beginning to dominate my mind. I’ve haven’t identified yet what it is or where it comes from; it is a work in progress. By writing this entry I hope to gain some insight as I write it out or from assistance via the comments.

This complex is going on the alleged axiom Life is over and what’s left is waiting for its end. Said complex is manifesting itself through warm thoughts and memories about my past. Lately I’ve been reading poetry and literature about older folks recalling their youthful experiences at life’s end. There is a sense of my body slowly falling apart and I am not worrying about it. The tunes I’ve been attracted to resonate with the complex: “Our Last Summer” by ABBA; “This Old House” by Stuart Hamblen and so forth. I have a sense of not wanting to travel, plan for the future, or do much self-care. After all, I’ve had a good life/done some things – and now it feels over. I am walking downhill into the sunset.

In summary: I am challenging an old man, somewhere in his mid to late 80s.

Ego wants to know what the devil is going on and where this is coming from and why it is appearing now.

First of all let me assure Spo-fans these feelings and actions aren’t stemming from apathy or weariness. This is not depression. I know a lot about depression and this isn’t that. My health is good, my job is going OK. I am enjoying activities.  Perhaps The Old Man Complex (as I just christened it) is coming from a sense of contentment viz. as everything is going OK why bother going on? The world seems to be going to pot and I am glad to be old enough to check out?  “Let some of the younger ones deal with it” I hear him/it saying about Life’s matters.

I don’t remember ever having this before. I’ve had times when I thought “life is over” but I was not happy about it, nor did I covert it (nor was even closely correct). I’ve been content before but this didn’t elicit a ‘games over’ emotion.

Curious indeed.

Happily I have enough Ego/consciousness to smell a rat. There is nothing wrong resting in a golden nidus and watching the sun set. This doesn’t groove however as I am in my mid-50s. This Complex /Ego situation reminds me of the scene in Monty Python and The Holy Grail of the man exclaiming “I’m not dead! I don’t want to go on the cart! I feel happy, happy!”  I can not succumb to the Complex saying ‘No you’re not! You’ll be stone dead in a moment”.

So I’ve identified a problem. I don’t know yet ‘why’ it’s there but I’ve identified it as can keep tabs on it.  If you hear I’ve quit work/Life  please bitch slap me.


*For thems in need of a quick Jung 101 lesson: imagine your conscious self as the CEO at  a table with many diverse board members. You/Ego get input into the many members that make up the board that is your psyche. The members vary in how much they say and how bossy they are; they vary in their influence as well. Sometimes one or a group of them want to take over and be the Ego; they want to be in charge. A good conscious Ego is aware of all of them and their positive and negative attributes; you recognize when and which ones are ‘speaking’. It is the role of the Ego to take in all information and opinions of the Complexes in but in the end Ego- CEO-conscious self makes the decisions. It is in charge – not the complexes. This takes constant self-awareness. Phew.

Office  I spend a lot of my professional life trying to figure out ways to get people to do things they don’t want to do. In Medicine this is called “nonadherence to treatment’; in classic psychiatry lexicon this is ‘resistance”. Really though it is just human nature. We are wired to seek the immediate reward as ‘the future’ was tentative at best. Our monkey brains like food and sex and avoiding unpleasant situations. They aren’t designed to think of retirement planning and cardiovascular disease. I plead, coax, and (sometimes) threaten patients to improve via long time plans often to no avail. Patients – humans really – want short time immediate fixes and results.

I often channel The Cassandra Complex, on which I have written. Cassandra (for thems who don’t know her and/or too lazy to look up that entry) was a Trojan princess cursed by Apollo to always speak the truth but no one would believe her even when she was spot-on correct again and again. I was recently reminded Cassandra had impediments that made the situation worse. If she could have worked on them things might have been more communicative.

1. She spoke in cryptic metaphor. I recently reread some of her wailings and it is no wonder no one could deduce what the hell she was trying to say.

2. She spoke of things too far in the future. People couldn’t connect the dots to what was happening now in their immediate lives to faraway consequences

3. She asked too much of people.

4. She didn’t have any authority.


I keep these Cassandra-mistakes in mind if I want my patients (and myself) to overcome the propensity to procrastinate and avoid anxious endeavors.

#1 is easy. I try not to speak ‘psychobabble”. I move between lexicons depending on the abilities of the patient before me. I need to be clear with my words and what I am trying to communicate.

#4 used to be a sure thing. When doctors spoke it was with an authoritarian-don’t-question-me voice. Those days are over (and probably for the best) but I still hope I have some clout. I am up against what’s on the internet, often pointing out to patients their Google search does not surpass my expertise.

#2 and #3 are more difficult. They are the Scylla and Charybdis of the medical odyssey. Let’s start with #2:

With few exceptions my patients are not dumb. They ‘get it’.  They know if they continue smoking and eating Oreos instead of oranges they are going to have trouble. But the human brain makes long term abstract thinking (and consequences) hard to make happen. This is especially true for folks in their 20s and 30s who all too readily believe they are invincible and they won’t be like their parents (remember thinking that way?).

Defining what is “asking too much” in #3 and how to circumvent it is an ongoing art. I think this is where Medicine as a ‘practice’ gets its namesake. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Naples wasn’t rebuilt in a year. People are more likely to start with – and succeed -with one specific task than a cosmic transformation.  “Give up sugary drinks” is more likely heard and done than ‘stop sugar for the rest of your life”.   “Start walking 15 minutes each day” is better than ‘lose 30lb or else”.  Sometimes if a person travels the sensation-based route of life I entice them via that road. Rather than telling a man with a drinking problem he will die of cirrhosis if he doesn’t stop swilling gin I tell him he will lose easy weight and look better and get better hard-ons. (Hot puppies!).

Being a Cassandra is a frustrating job but with some more careful approach and wording some things may be heard and heeded and I won’t end up with an axe between my shoulder blades.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections became so scared by the drop in the rating statistics it put a moratorium on the “Fear series”. How’s that for irony! They begrudgingly allowed me to finish up with the this composition on the grounds it was already ridden and I didn’t have anything else at the moment.*

One of the means to deal with Fear is to personify it and give it a name. This way fear goes from being a nebulous nonentity to form. Throughout our existence Fear as taken different archetypal forms to suit the times.  Here’s a few examples (in historical order):

The Barbarians

The Devil

The Bogeyman

Slender Man

I thought I would scribble a few notes on a current form that has struck my fancy: Cthulthu. For them’s not familiar with Mr. Cthulthu, he is character from the Mythos of Mr. Lovecraft.  I think he only appeared in one short story  – Cthulhu is hardly a ‘major player’ in L’s pantheon – but C has become quite popular in today’s culture. He is Fear Incarnate, and quite a good one too. Cthulhu isn’t a monster the type you can fight and (in theory) vanquish. He is more an idea, an existential terror. He represents the fear of our smallness and meaningless. He shatters our belief/delusion of our importance in the cosmos. To be in touch with Cthulthu is to encounter utter meaningless and incomprehension. Marie Curie said “Nothing is to be feared but understood”. Fear personified by Cthulthu is getting in touch with what can’t ever be understood. To even try evokes terror and/or annihilation.

As an archetype this is awesome. In these turbulent times of the 21st century when Fear runs amok I find it no surprise Cthulthu is taking up more Fear libido while the other Archetype examples diminish in power and value.  With The Barbarian and the Devil archetypes there is hope of fight and conquer. There is less with The Bogeyman. With Slenderman it is my understanding one can not win but at most he can be avoided. With Cthulthu you can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game. Hot puppies!

Least this series end on a dismal and nihilistic note, I will point out The Cthulthu archetype channels Fear in its most terrible form.  However most of our fears are not Cthulthu although it often feels that way. Most of our Fears are the type mentioned in the Dr. Curie quote.  It’s our task not to confuse the former for the latter.


*I kept mum on my reserved “Walking the Dog” entry; I didn’t want to lose my earlobes.

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