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A Blog in Praise of the Sea

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge — myth is more potent than history — dreams are more powerful than facts — hope always triumphs over experience — laughter is the cure for grief — love is stronger than death.” 

- Robert Fulghum

*In honor of my recent trip up to Cayucos, and in honor of the fact that I truly believe that, at least to me, the voice of the sea speaks to the soul, I’ve decided to share a small bit of autobiographical work of archetypal reflection. I wrote this in the summer of 2009, which was the last summer of my classes at Pacifica. The class was Myth and the Memoir…the assignment was to explore a personal experience of the archetypal. Enjoy!

In praise of the life of the sea.

–I have always belonged to the ocean. Lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers hold very little interest for me, but the ocean energizes me in a way that really nothing else ever has. I can remember being three years old, walking on the beach and just marveling at the gifts of the sea. Crawling on the edges of spiny rocks–you know, the kind that poke at your feet, and gazing down into the kinds of pools that Steinbeck wrote about made me feel like Alice peering through the looking-glass. I have always been curious about the communities that lie beneath the azure waves and the rocky foam.

When I was seventeen and had my brand spanking new driver’s license in hand, I often took my sweet little green convertible for a ride up to San Simeon, home of famed publisher William Randolph Hearst’s “Castle.”

A view from the 1

There are many cliffs on that rocky stretch of Pacific Coast Highway One, and San Simeon is essentially the last stop before long stretch which heads approximately 100 miles north to Big Sur and Monterey. To me, this area always felt like the edge of civilization, a place where Artemis’ dark hunting grounds meet Aphrodite’s stunningly sensuous birthplace, the sea.

I craved this interaction—the wild landscape jutting out into the foamy realm of possibilities. I often hiked out to the edge of the cliffs, and stared at the waves for hours; a lighthouse in the distance, the cries of the elephant seals ringing into my ears over the crash of the waves.

The seals in all their glory.

I felt at home there, more than I did in any other place I’d ever been. When I discovered the Celtic stories of the selkies, half-human, half-seal creatures, dangerously vulnerable to any human who finds their skin, I thought to myself, “AHA! Now I understand! I must have been a selkie in a past life, or at least be born of one.”

Although I have never discounted this possibility, I later discovered that it was Aphrodite I was longing to discover during all those wind-swept moments on Hearst’s rocky coast. It was she who called me, birthed from a shell, hair roped in braids, glorious sea treasures anointing her body. Her scent was on my skin. I drank her in…sea kelp, sea anemones, salt, procreative energy. Is there any wonder so many of us love and feel so protective of the sea? Is it any wonder that its mystical energy  draws the soul? And, is it any wonder that Aphrodite–an archetypal image of the power love and beauty emits on the human psyche–is born of the sea? Truly, the sea speaks to our ability to feel and (excuse the pun) to be felt.

Second century Greek terra-cotta

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Filed under Depth Psychology, Just Life, Myth