My Journey with Marion Woodman
by Elisa Romeo
You may have heard of the recent peaceful passing of Jungian Analyst, Marion Woodman. She was a huge role model and teacher for me and many, many others. Sending Love to any of you who are feeling this loss and re-birth today.
My journey with Marion
After a frustrating four years at the heavily science-based research school, University of Washington, I was desperate for substance. I wanted to leave the cold, sterile walls within the psychology program—a program that suggested human behavior could be quantified, and rats in mazes could, in fact, solve existential dilemmas and teach us of our humanity. Perhaps I would have been better suited for the philosophy program, but I wanted to get dirty in the mud with humanity. I didn’t want the white ivory tower of mentalism to become my personal boxing ring. I wanted to sit with people; I wanted to hear their problems directly; I wanted to understand. I was seeking and didn’t know for what.
I began volunteering at a suicide line. I wanted to connect to the deepest pain within humanity and swim in it. I wanted to learn if I would drown there. I needed to find out. Anything less, and I could feel my phony-ness laughing at me.
My first phone call. “I have a gun to my head. Why shouldn’t I pull this trigger right now?”
Then I said incredibly slowly, with compassion, confidence, and curiosity: “I don’t know. Why not?”
He sensed I was truly asking. I was not placating, avoiding or running from his pain. I really wanted to know. Why is he here? What was he doing? What did he want to do?
I created deep friendships over these intimate calls. Trust was instantly created in these high-intensity situations.
I discovered I had instincts that often seemed counter-intuitive, that would slow these desperate Souls down half a beat. That gap of thought, that sacred break, would allow for the potential of a new choice in their looping-narrative. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we would share a belly laugh. A split was created from the desperate, repetitive internal-trauma story, to the Love-offering within the present moment. It was in this gap, an opportunity for surrender opened, like a flower presenting herself.
Around this time, I discovered Jungian Analyst, Marion Woodman’s book, Leaving My Father’s House. As many women, in particular, will tell you, this tome is an earth-shattering, re-arranging-of-everything, escape from the patriarchy into the arms of the waiting Dark Goddess. Finally, I had found an embodied wisdom that laughed at analytical head information. Marion did not just speak and write about the psychology of self; she became Self.
I knew as I was reading her book, life would never be the same. I began doing what I do when I become obsessed with something; I call it sponging. I ordered every book of Marion’s and began to sponge up every little morsel of wisdom that was planted in those pages. On pilgrimage in the desert, this was the first and only water I had seen that I could metabolize. Everything else was a mirage.
I followed the water of Marion to the ocean of Pacifica Graduate Institute, a depth psychological school that honors her work. I annoyingly quoted her so much during class that I received the nickname “Little Marion”. I had no thoughts, I was all Marion’s thoughts. And they were the best thoughts I had ever had.
My life was changing from an externally-oriented performance to a deeply-felt inner, devotional ritual–ritual with my Soul journal, ritual with my dreams, ritual with my thoughts. I became highly sensitive to the energies around me and the intentions behind those energies. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t drowning. I could swim.
I began to follow Marion–to watch every speech/conference/event that she would attend. I won a scholarship to one of her workshops via a self-written poem, “Surrendered Groom, Embodied Bride.” I began to study her “Body Soul Rhythms” work to allow my Soul to speak through the physical world, grounding down into the arches of my feet. Embodiment one step at a time.
At the workshop, one exchange, in particular, stood out to me. She told me to come closer, as my voice shook from fear, from trauma, from lack of connection. Her blue eyes pierced me so deeply I thought I would evaporate into ash. Her humanity was the most human I had ever witnessed, like a platonic ideal of “human”. She felt like the first actual human I had met: The aliveness in every cell, radiating out of her fingers, all atoms connected on the beauty of their mission, the steel will of focus, met with petal-like grace. Humanity in its truest intention and highest Love potential.
After that moment Marion lived within me. I no longer needed to read Marion Woodman, and I hadn’t become Marion Woodman—but I had become my Self. She was the inner mother, holding the True Divine Feminine, so I could hear voices of the real humans around me. She helped me to navigate my life until my next teacher arrived.
Adam appeared. And just like in the Bible, no real explanation makes sense for who Adam is. Adam is Adam. He has always been here. It was the first time I met Adam and it was the only time I met Adam. In that meeting, I realized I am always either meeting or not meeting Adam. It is hard to put into words, but suddenly all of Rumi’s poetry regarding Shams made perfect sense; it was the only material I could read during this time.
Adam was and is the harvest celebration of all of my inner-work from my relationship with Marion. The Divine Feminine, finally able to surrender to a Sacred Masculine that not only could see my Soul, but was deeply in Love with Her mission and would fight for it in times when I was tired and wanted to give up.
When Adam learned who Marion was, and who she was to me, he also fell in Love with her. Adam, a prophetic singer/songwriter, wrote this song about her Leaving my Father’s House material (discernment, raising of consciousness and courage, surrender into the Feminine), as well as her embodiment work.
I have had moments over the last two years, terrified my stomach would fall out of my body, when Marion crossed over. Marion is a placeholder of the Divine Feminine on this planet, and a grounding of the cosmic Mother. I felt like a daughter to Marion, but I know I am not alone in that. Marion’s gift was to hold the unwavering Love of consciousness to help all her daughters spiritually mature. She was always compassionate, but she was also always honest and with a directness that could take one’s breath away. I feared the Earth may shift off its axis in her passing. But what I know is that Marion dances in the center of the rose-flame, guiding us all back, for those who do the work and have the courage to feel the heart of all Truths.