Benedicta Viriditas

In Mysterium Coniunctionis, ¶623, Jung wrote:

The state of imperfect transformation, merely hoped for and waited for, does not seem to be one of torment only, but of positive, if hidden, happiness. It is the state of someone who, in his wanderings among the mazes to his psychic transformation, comes upon a secret happiness which reconciles him to his apparent loneliness. In communing with himself he finds not deadly boredom and melancholy but an inner partner; more than that, a relationship that seems like the happiness of a secret love, or like a hidden springtime, when the green seed sprouts from the barren earth, holding out the promise of future harvests. It is the alchemical benedicta viriditas, the blessed greenness, signifying…the secret immanence of the divine spirit of life in all things…

Among the pictures I drew in 1995, this one, Many Thanks, has remained a favorite. When I learned about the benedicta viriditas, I associated it with this mandala. As I posted Many Thanks on my website a few years after drawing it, I wrote that the mandala:

…grew out of experiences from many walks in the woods in the late spring and early summer of 1995. I often found gooseberries by the trail and enjoyed eating them as I walked among the oak trees. I experienced the berries as a gift…directly from the earth.

In the mandala I see the gooseberry as a symbol of the nourishment I receive in the life of my psyche—those images that arise spontaneously …as a kind of grace.

During every significant transition in my adult life, I have walked in the woods as a way to live in expectation of and sometimes find that grace, that blessing green. The trees, themselves, seem to offer healing. And when green found its way into my proto-temenos mandalas, it represented healing to me.

And I have of late begun to consider the benedicta viriditas in an additional way.

On April 18, 2001, I dreamt an Asian woman showed me a white round cup, handleless. She was going to serve me “green tea.” This had something to do with me being or becoming a writer. In the cup, submerged in the liquid, were some green plant cuttings—long and slender.

I came to associate those plant cuttings with “leaves of grass,” and with the life-affirming exuberance of Walt Whitman’s poetry. And the ceremonial act of offering green tea with the importance of writing my way through transitions.

And on June 10, 2005 I dreamt: I’m looking at “my” house (not house from waking life) and it looked completely burned. I’m looking at the charred skeleton of a house. It has been burned so long that the forest has grown into it, I see leaves where the inside of the house would have been. I’m looking at the room that I understand was my writing room, it is completely burned, except in one corner I see a typewriter and a stack of paper—untouched by the fire, perfect white paper, a big stack, maybe two or three reams and an old manual typewriter. Everything is dark (as if I am deep in the woods) except that the stack of white paper seems bright.

Even in this dream which seemed to anticipate a time when almost everything would be lost, the empty spaces are filled with green leaves. “Green,” Jung wrote, “signifies hope and the future…” (CW14, ¶624) And writing tools remain.

I begin to see one aspect of the benedicta viriditas as healing and growth coming by way of writing. This began one day in high school as I sat waiting for my sister in our car, writing poems as fast as I could with peacock blue ink on ruled notebook paper. (The leaves blowing around the car that day were brown, but the promise of spring was in the ink and paper.) And continued to this most recent birthday, when I received a writing pen, a drawing pen, and, thanks to a gift card, a wireless keyboard. So here I sit, inspringed, writing again.