Works of Marion Woodman: A GoodTherapy.org Review

Marion Woodman is one of the most well-known Jungian analysts. She has published many books, lectured widely, and is one of our elders in the Jungian community. Marion writes and teaches by exploring dreams, literature and mythology, imagery in the body, many artistic forms, and case material. Marion’s imaginings and wisdom are part of the foundation that informs my work as I play and create with others. My bookshelves are filled with her writings and often I find myself picking up a volume of her work to imagine and journey through a spiral.

Some of her books include (non-inclusive list): Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride; The Ravaged Bridegroom: Masculinity in Women; The Pregnant Virgin: A Process of Psychological Transformation; Leaving My Father’s House: A Journey to Conscious Femininity; Bone: Dying to Life; Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in Transformation of Consciousness. 

My copy of Addiction to Perfection has many notes and bookmarks from multiple readings over the years. It is certainly one of my favorite books to recommend given the alarming rate at which our culture’s mandate for perfection marches on. I remember Marion’s plea so well, you can’t be whole if you are perfect. Marion also once told a story of Raven that I heard on audiotape and have repeated over the years:

Raven sits on my shoulders and says, ‘You think you’re perfect! You’re not perfect! No one is perfect! CAW!

Marion concludes–She is a human being, human she is able to give and receive the greatest of all human gifts—“I love you as you are.” [warts and all]

In Dancing in the Flames one cannot read without the deeply felt sense of what the Dark Goddess carries for both women and men. In the chaos and change are the death of the old and the birth of the new.

When the soul decides to live, it releases the creative child, who loves to play, for whom every moment is NOW.

I wonder along with Marion if today’s stressed adults who were once creative children now dismiss play as frivolous due to their own smothering of unexpressed emotions.

Children who are given space to imagine dance their days through hours of creative play. Adults who give themselves time to play, time to connect to the energy that they so often repress in their workaday world, go into their chaos and behold, childlike energy is available to them.

I read Bone: Dying into Life following my own breast cancer treatment. Honoring her own story, Marion writes in journal form about her diagnosis of uterine cancer, her healing, and the transformative journey she takes by dying into life. Marion used every tool at her disposal as she came to terms with her illness, dis-ease, and ultimate surrender to the demands of both death and life.

The questions she asks are good ones for us to consider today:

  • What does it mean to be an elder in this culture?
  • What has got to be let go of?
  • Do I have the courage to live?

November 7, 1994 journal entry:

Exhaustion. Couldn’t wake out of the depths.

Behind Me—dips Eternity—

Before Me—Immortality—

Myself—the Term between—

–Emily Dickinson

© Copyright 2011 by Mary Alice Long, PhD, therapist in Langley, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jay

    Jay

    August 26th, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    All therapy “forefathers” like Jung were all antichrists. They hated Christianity, so the fact is psychology is antichristian, anti GOD and therapy(man’s philosophy) goes 100% against the Bible. ONLY GOD can heal one’s mind, body, and spirit.

  • Joan

    Joan

    August 26th, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    As a freshman psych student in college, Addiction to Perfection sounds like a book that I think I would like to begin to study. I am sure that it would take me years to understand the teachings but I a happy to get started and expand my knowledge with the words of a wonderful and inspiring leader in the field!

  • hans R

    hans R

    August 26th, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    there are some great minds that just leave behind their mark for everyone to see a long time after their great works. such people enrich a lot of lives through their works and no amount of appreciation is sufficient for their deeds.

  • Mary Alice Long, PhD

    Mary Alice Long, PhD

    September 2nd, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Thank you for your comments. Who are the teachers who you are grateful for?

  • W. Keren Vishny MD, MA

    W. Keren Vishny MD, MA

    September 22nd, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    As a woman who has gone through a three year training with Marion Woodman, I can speak to the depth and transformative power of her work.
    For anyone in the Chicago area interested:
    On Sunday, October 9 at 1pm, there will be a viewing and discussion of “Dancing in the Flames”. This film is a wonderful introduction to Marion- her life and her work.
    The film will be shown at the CG Jung Center, 817 Dempster ST, Evanston Illinois. 847-475-4848 x221

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