The Symbolism of Spring: Approaches to Renewal, Part 2
The coming of spring affects us deeply! We see the symbolism of spring in music, literature and art, with its emphasis on our personal renewal.
As we saw in Part 1 of this series, the yearning for renewal is often a key motivator for people entering case studies. The symbolism of spring powerfully represents the radical renewal of the whole of the natural world.
A wide variety of the world’s religious traditions involve myths of resurrection and renewal, the rites of which are very often associated with the Spring. This is certainly true of the Jewish tradition of Passover, the Christian Easter tradition, and of the ancient Greek myth of Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the bounty of nature as expressed in agriculture.
As archetypal psychologist Dr. James Hillman tells us, Persephone, Demeter’s only child is fated to spend half the year as a prisoner in the realm of Hades, the Lord of death, and her time there corresponds to Winter. But then she is free to return to the surface of the world, and with her, she brings the blessing of the life and vitality of Spring. Hillman views this myth as weighted with great significance for our own personal life journeys.
Spring, Vitality …and Renewal
The symbolism of Spring is associated with, not only a radical renewal of perspective, but also with an actual restoration of life to the world. In Spring, the whole world seems to rejoice in an overwhelming new vitality. The symbolism of Spring reaches us so deeply, because it touches the deep desire in all of us for renewal, and for the opportunity to find the fullness of experience of life that some part of us senses as a powerful potential within us.
Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
The Yearning for Spring in Our Lives
The symbolism of Spring beckons to us with the possibility of renewal. It is often at times in our life journey when we feel a profound stuckness and inertness that we yearn most powerfully for such renewal. At such times, the symbolism of Spring speaks to us most powerfully — in art, in imagination, the life of dreams. It is precisely when our outlook is filled with the sterility of Winter that we find that the symbolism of Spring beckons to us most powerfully.
Humans are very powerful in many ways, but we cannot create Spring. We have to wait for it to emerge, and it comes forth from the operation of forces in nature so titanic that they dwarf the efforts of even the greatest human powers.
The Symbolism of Spring: Waiting for the Emergence
So it is in the journey of the psyche, which is often expressed in the work that individuals do in /a-midlife-transition. There are things that we can do to look after ourselves, techniques that we can utilize to help with depression or anxiety, or with, say, creating appropriate boundaries for ourselves. These are things over which we have a significant amount of conscious control. Yet, beyond this, there is also a power for healing from deep within the human psyche that no amount of our conscious control and willpower can coerce. That particular healing element will emerge in its own time, and all we can do is to remove obstacles to its appearance, and wait upon its emergence. But, if we can do that, it does emerge. This is what Jung referred to as “the self-healing properties of the psyche”.
In /a-midlife-transition work, the emergence of this Spring of renewal in the human psyche is firmly connected with the unexplored aspects of the personality, in what Jung often called “the undiscovered Self”. The journey of the individual in therapy leads us into vital and hitherto unexplored potential for renewal.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst