PsychBytes

A publication of the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis

Share This Post

Universals

Tarpley M. Long, MSW
Member, The Washington Center for Psychoanalysis
October 2016 | Volume 3 | Issue 9

While traveling in New Zealand I took a tour at Te Papa Museum led by a Maori Elder, who deepened my understanding of “the dreaming,” which underpins aboriginal religion, ethics, and art. The aborigines of the South Pacific believe dreaming enters the child as soon as he quickens in the womb and it includes all knowledge: how the world came to be, how to live, and how to relate to people. It is said to take a lifetime to know the dreaming and it is learned through stories told by tribal elders.

In one such Maori story of creation, the Father Sky and Mother Earth were together locked in an eternal embrace. They had many sons who lived in the dark crevice between them who one day pleaded with the parents to let them live in the light. For this to happen, the parents would have to separate. The separation was painful and bloody and the sons went to live with Mother Earth while Father Sky remained above. Father Sky was so bereft that he wept for many days, drenching the lands below with his tears.

The guide remarked that there is some tribal variation on the story. For example, one tribe believes there is only one son who comes between the parents. In another, one of the many sons wants to kill the father but the other brothers do not let him, so the rebellious son does not go to earth but remains at large as thunder, wind and lightning.

Returning to America, I re-read Totem and Taboo written in 1912. It was Freud’s thesis that the passionate love and competition felt toward the parents during childhood are universal. My guide put the dreaming and the creation story together in a way that might have made Freud smile.

Image of a stained glass window in the Te Papa Museum, Wellington, NZ. The window depicts an 800 year old Creation Story from the Maori Dream Time.

Explore more in PsychBytes

Horizons

A favorite amusement during my elementary-school years was a puzzle-map of the United States. The puzzle pieces comprised all the states. The top of the puzzle went beyond the USA halfway up Canada, and the bottom ended halfway through Mexico.

Mad or Sad?

Here I am, taking comfort in the sunroom and emailing off another cartoon to my sister. I have two sisters and have always been especially close to sister number two, Patti. It could be said that we are close because we are nearer in age, but really, we are close because we are pretty much on the same wavelength. We enjoy a lot of the same things including guffawing over clever memes. We like to laugh.

Content Edit Request

Please submit one request at a time.