Author’s Quest for Meaning


*Struggling to get a handle on the sequel*- what motifs do I want to employ, what is the deeper meaning, how might I weave the many different threads into a cohesive story? When in doubt, I always go back to the great Arthurian Romances – Tristan and Iseult, Lancelot and Guinevere, Romeo and Juliet.

Lately I’ve been studying the original 12th century love story of Tristan and Iseult, which introduced the notion of “Romantic Love” into the consciousness of Western culture. I purchased the epic Ridley Scott movie with James Franco and Sophia Miles for what the Welsh call hwyl ( inspiration) and have re-read several of the ancient idylls, ballads, and legends looking for patterns I can use in my fiction.

I have learned more from a modern book by Robert A. Johnson called WE – Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love. In it, he analyzes the phenomenon of passionate attraction applying Jungian symbolism to each element in the story. I found it engrossing, enlightening, and deeply moving.

It gave me a wholly new perspective on the symbolic significance of my male Protagonist- who he is as an aspect of myself, and what his ultimate purpose is as a personal archetype. In The Flamebearer, he constantly wrestles with the paradox of his own being – half man, half Faery – in other words, the incarnation of the earthly and the divine within a single physical form. He questions whether he must sacrifice one half of himself before he can embrace the other, not recognizing the Soul’s striving to attain wholeness cannot be accomplished unless and until the two halves begin to operate together. (This reminds me of the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex, often pulling at cross-purposes to one another, rather than striving toward unity and cooperation. Brainwave Entrainment technology attempts to address this problem by playing a different “binaural” beat in each ear, which results in synchronizing the rational, linear Left Brain with the symbol-producing Right Brain, allowing for greater holistic functioning.)

Ultimately, we must assimilate these divergent energies – the masculine and feminine, or what Jung referred to as the Animus and Anima, the yin and yang, the King and the Queen, the God and Goddess as they endure in the unconscious and recognize that we must own our duality if we hope to find lasting fulfillment in our lives and in our interpersonal relationships. Retrieving the Otherworldly aspects of our Souls that we have projected on to ordinary people is the central lesson we have all come here to learn.

The quest for a “Soulmate” has misled even the most pragmatic among us to take leave of our senses occasionally, especially the generation of Baby Boomers born between the late 1940’s and the early 1950’s. Many of us elected to dissolve twenty year marriages, convinced that a “twin soul” awaited us “out there”, only to meet with the inevitable disappointment, disillusionment and despair.

The magical, almost supernatural experience of “falling in love” with all its drama and urgency – the inability to eat, to sleep, or to behave rationally when in the presence of the loved one, the longing for one another when forced by circumstances to separate, the intense arousal experienced by indulging in an illicit “affair” – delicious and intoxicating as these sensations and emotions may be – has nevertheless been justification for divorce, betrayal of trust between partners, and abandonment of our own happiness for the sake of an ideal. The madness of the Love Potion is that it leads us to conduct ourselves in ways we would never otherwise imagine.

As thrilling and addictive as these encounters with forbidden passion may be, they are the unconscious projections of our ideals, longings, and complexes on to an external “screen.” Of course, that won’t stop me from continuing to examine universal love themes through my art and writing. I count myself blessed to have grasped the concept that my soul’s true companion inhabits the subjective realm of imagination, creativity, and artistic expression. I get to look at him every day and I know that he will never abandon or abuse me. He exists as a living, breathing archetype side-by-side with my conscious gender identity. He has more than once rescued me from imprisonment in an emotional fortress of my own making after suffering heartbreak at the hands of a “real-world” male partner. He constantly reminds me of my worth and directs me to focus inwardly where the real truth lies.

He is every bit as fascinating to me today as he was when I first began daydreaming about him over thirty years ago. He has continued to develop into a powerful inner figure – a guide, a muse, a lover, a high priest, a bringer of Light – he has indeed evolved into a true Flamebearer, illuminating the path to the Center of my Being, the dwelling place of my Authentic Self.

During intensely vivid, free-flowing altered states, when I am at my most creative, or when I am floating in that twilight zone half-way between wakefulness and dreams, I effortlessly enter into an emotional free-fall where the two sides of me become One. Tears of rapture, gratitude, and profound joy come easily at such times. My hand reaches for his hand in the dark and I know I will always be able to find him, for he IS my Other Half.

Jung would call it synchronicity, but I was unaware when I chose to call my hero “Ciaran” that the name is an echo and a metaphor for my own birth name, “Carolyn.” The first initial matches as does the internal “r” and the final consonant “n”. I originally spelled it “Kieran” until I found out that the letter “k” does not exist in the Celtic languages. Even after making the switch, decades passed before it occurred to me what my subconscious had done.

It is not uncommon for authors of character-driven poetic fiction to establish deep and long-lasting relationships with the personalities who populate their inner landscapes and the pages of their novels. Anne Rice speaks fondly of Lestat. I know other fantasy writers who insist their characters take on lives of their own once they free themselves from the restrictions of living solely inside the artist’s head. Once I remarked to Ciaran what a marvelous creation I judged him to be and his immediate rejoinder was, “Ah, but my lady, how can you be so sure it wasn’t me who created you?”