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Getting back to normal—whatever that is

Updated: Jul 25

Things are getting back to normal (whatever that is) following the wild flurry of events of the past couple of weeks.

I’m going to slow things down and cover a few events now, and then do more in weeks to come simply because there is too much richness to cram into one missive.

I start by wrapping up our previous pet-sit in Haslemere with Ivy and Rocket. Only in our final days did I learn that the name “Haslemere” means hazel trees standing beside a “mere” (which means “lake”).

In the countdown to our departure, we squeezed in one last gasp of sightseeing, which included a visit to All Saints Church Grayswood.

Unlike the ancient churches I typically haunt, this building was constructed in 1901 by a Swedish architect. They call the style “early Gothic, with a Scandinavian flavour.”

From the very beginning this Victorian church had a reputation of being “one of the prettiest and most charming of village churches.” The sanctuary’s arts & crafts elements really won my heart—even the dogs enjoyed it! The designers certainly packed a lot into a tiny space. It felt delightfully inviting.

That the pine roof resembles the hull of a boat should come as no surprise since it was designed by a Swedish ship builder. For that matter, various other accents around the church betray Swedish influences, including carvings said to represent Viking figures, and corbel heads at the entrance that resemble King Oscar II of Sweden, who reigned at the time of the church's construction.

The carvings and stained glass were exquisite, but there were also tapestries and features mounted along the floor that looked for all the world like Art Nouveau to me.

I was struck by a large pierced roundel with a sculpted stone angel in the chancel. The angel's scroll reads: "Glory to God in the highest." Curiously, its sculptor is unknown.

The motivating reason behind our visit was to view the marvelous stained glass window of Sir Galahad. The inclusion of Sir Galahad in a gallery of saints is intriguing, and he is the second iteration of this character within the vicinity of Haslemere (the other window was dedicated to Alfred Lord Tennyson as you may remember from a couple of weeks ago).

According to Arthurian legend, Sir Galahad is the sole knight who ultimately saw and beheld the Holy Grail. He is depicted in this window holding the Sword of David, which he retrieved from a river, thereby earning himself a place at the Round Table as its greatest knight. The lower portion of the window depicts him riding out on his white steed with a white pennant flag billowing overhead (I love that image!).

The Holy Grail in the apex of the window is believed to be one of only two depicted in stained glass in the country (the other is in Glastonbury). Unfortunately, it doesn’t come through in the picture, so here is a close-up view:

Our doggies greatly enjoyed their trip to the church, and it was heartbreaking to return back home with them, knowing our separation was imminent.

A couple of days were then given over entirely to cleaning and tidying the house where we were staying. It makes all the difference to the owners to return and find a neat and tidy house—especially the women. Who could resist coming home to this?!

When Jane and Seamus arrived, the dogs were sooo happy to see them. Ivy tried to jump all the way up into Seamus’ arms, while Rocket wagged his tail so hard I thought his butt might fall off.

After saying tearful goodbyes to all of them, we got on the road and headed for our next destination: London!

Robin had found a tiny Airbnb for us in a London suburb, and we moved in. Unfortunately, the UK was in the middle of a severe heat-wave, and the unit had no air conditioning. (Hotel rooms in London that featured air conditioning and were close to our sightseeing destination started at the bargain price of $700/night.) We ran two fans and slept on top of the comforter! But it was a price we gladly paid to execute our planned excursion.

The next day we departed bright and early, catching a classic red double-decker bus to our destination. Unfortunately, we could not seem to buy bus tickets. They did not take cash and we did not have a travel card. A Muslim woman in a hijab took pity on us and paid our fare with her card. It was such a kind gesture, and she would not allow us to give her money.

We scrambled upstairs and enjoyed the ride. Views of London are always so delicious. We exited the bus at our stop (Robin had everything beautifully planned—excepting the bus fare), and then we hustled to our ultimate objective: the British Museum.

Not just the British Museum though—the British Museum’s Stonehenge exhibition that closed a mere four days after we visited. Eeeekkkk!

Need I remind you again how Robin and I got married at Stonehenge 20 years ago? How could we not break our necks to see this exhibition if we humanly could?

Somehow Robin pulled it off. (It’s amazing what he pulls off.)

The exhibition was wide-ranging and remarkable, with artistic mood lighting throughout.

For instance, this antler headdress on display was made from the skull of a deer. It is thought it was used in ceremonies, probably by shamans, to commune with the animals that supplied their needs.

It brought to mind the “mask” session I did recently for BAAPT. (Did you attend my mask session? It was awesome!)

The following controversial display represents a timber circle built in 2049 BC on the coast of Norfolk at a salt marsh that stood between land and sea. It emerged in 1998 due to the accidental discoveries of an amateur archeologist. Apparently the structure's existence had been common knowledge amongst locals for decades, but it was promptly dubbed “Seahenge” by the press, naming it after Stonehenge.

Controversy arose when it was decided to excavate the site in order to preserve it, which caused an uproar amongst locals and neopagans who considered this an insult to the original builders.

Contemporary theory is that the henge was used for ritual purposes, but it may originally have formed the boundary of a burial mound.

These recently-discovered carefully carved chalk cylinders seen below are a complete mystery. Dated 3000 BC, they accompanied the body of a small child buried in North Yorkshire. They have no apparent functional use—they are not containers, nor is there any wear and tear, which suggests they were carved specifically for inclusion in this grave.

It is speculated that the imagery may have helped people to record, tell, and remember stories. I’m particularly drawn to the dainty butterfly carving directly below Robin’s chin. (In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is "psyche,” which also means "soul.”)

The Nebra Sky Disc was the rockstar of the whole exhibition—I found it attractive and mysterious, and it was beguiling enough to rate its privileged placement on the exhibition book and signage. (Yes, I even thought about buying a duvet cover with this image imprinted on it. Don’t judge!)

The Nebra Sky Disc was found in Germany, and, with its dating of 1600 BC, it is the oldest known material depiction of cosmic phenomena in the world. It reveals the creativity and advanced astronomical knowledge of cultures without using writing. The distinctive rosette of seven stars represents the Pleiades constellation.

The disc was made using gold from Cornwall and bronze from Central Europe. It was remodeled as its meaning and use changed. Just like Stonehenge’s alignment, the bands on either side marked the positions of the rising and setting sun over the course of the solar year.

This was apropos:

The above quote caught my fancy, and echoed how I both loved and hated the exhibition.

I admired the artifacts, the computer renderings, the contextualizing of the site, the historic beginnings of Stonehenge, and the mysterious atmosphere they created—not a sterile white laboratory environment, but not a “black box” approach either. The whole exhibition was atmospheric and wonderful.

I enjoyed the magical bits the best—such as the Glastonbury idol, the ritual mask, rock art, lunulae (golden jewelry collars that mirrored the shape of the moon), the so-called “spiritual warriors,” and more.

What I hated about it: the exhibition was crowded with last-minute visitors all jostling for position, and the temperature was too warm, for starters. Second of all, there was a lot of detail to take in, and eventually I mentally shut down from it all. As an inferior sensation type, I was overwhelmed by the great many details flooding toward me from every direction. I had to sit down and regain my bearings at one point.

Regardless of all that, I’m grateful we were able to see the show before it closed. It was marvelous.

As we were approaching the Stonehenge exhibition area, an ad for a simultaneous presentation on “Feminine power: the divine to the demonic” caught my eye.

As a depth psychologist, I was greatly attracted to this exhibition. Jungians view the feminine qualities of personal relating and receptivity as indispensable to having health and sanity in the world. So naturally I was curious about what this presentation might offer.

Did I, in fact, “See it today?”

If you’re lucky, I’ll tell you what happened in next week’s installment.

At the moment we are settling into our next house-sit in Reading with Gucci, the lovable, bouncy Staffie (Staffordshire Bull Terrier), who is a handful. So far we have greatly enjoyed our walks with her, plus our cozy snuggles in bed.

We explored “Bugs Bottom” that day—it’s a lush, expansive area with lots of interesting places to walk dogs, ride bikes, or fly a drone.

I have more work to do at the moment than I can tell you, and am still coaching my fabulous clients besides. A proposal for an upcoming Jungian conference is due by the end of the week, and we just published another issue of Psychological Perspectives.

If interested, the journal may be purchased here: https://junginla.org/product/psychological-perspectives-volume65/

I have boatloads more to tell you, but we’ll have to wait for next time. My birthday in particular was amazingly fabulous, so stay tuned!

warmly, -Dr. Vicky Jo


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