About Me… My Journey towards Health and Healing

Photo: Pixel Images

Photo: Pixel Images

At my worst I have been a cacophony, I have been a mass of human noises that did not add up to the symphony of an integrated self. At my best, however, the world sang out to me, and through me, like ringing crystal.

                                                                       — Salmon Rushdie

I was born in Germany and raised during the Second World War by upper middle class parents. I remained an only child. The triangulation which resulted from this family constellation caused inner and outer conflicts in my childhood, adolescence and way into my adulthood. During the war, I lived in constant fear. I experienced air raids in Berlin, evacuations, food shortages and refugee treks in flight from the Russian army. My mother, after personally witnessing the devastation in the morning after the infamous Crystal Night in Berlin, turned against the Nazi regime and raised me in a spirit of opposition. This destined me to become a non-joiner and outsider, someone who would stand apart from the collective for the rest of my life. Although I emerged from the war severely traumatized and in the grip of an undiagnosed anxiety neurosis, a combination of compensation and sheer hard work allowed me to finish high school on top of my class. I even won a scholarship as a high school senior with the American Field Service, which took me as an ambassador of good will in 1950/51 for a year to Tucson, Arizona. There, in the American Southwest, I experienced generosity, loving kindness and support as I had never known it before. I strongly suspect that without this help I might not have made it through some of the hardships that were to follow.

After graduating from high school, I studied German and English language and literature, philosophy and education in Frankfurt, Goettingen and Heidelberg. While working on my doctoral thesis in Heidelberg, I suffered from chronic insomnia which eventually led to a nervous breakdown. This was the first warning sign that my post-war compensation was beginning to fail me. Fortunately, with the help of friends, and through the practice of autogenous training, I was able to recover enough to finish my thesis and graduate magna cum laude with a Ph.D. in German literature. The following 2 years I spent in England, teaching language and literature in the German Department at Reading University while living in a Hall of Residence with the students. During this time, my health began to fail in a predictably psychosomatic fashion: I fell ill with chronic colitis, which was considered incurable at that time. Arriving in a debilitated state in Germany, I found my parents resentful of having to support me again, which made me seek employment away from home as fast as I could. The internist who had not given me any hope for a full recovery except through surgery nevertheless gave me a sound piece of advice: "Go as far South as you can," he said. Not knowing why he said that, but taking it as a sign, I accepted an offer from the Langenscheidt Publishing House in Berchtesgaden, to work as a lexicographer on their German-English dictionary. The work did not interest me, but the location did.

When I arrived in Berchtesgaden I was still under the guidance of allopathic medicine. I had been instructed to avoid all milk products and take high doses of sulfonamides on a daily basis. Consequently, I was only skin and bones. I was so frail that on one occasion I fainted in the middle of the street on my way home from work. But the Bavarian village of Berchtesgaden, Hitler's former abode, happened to be a stronghold of alternative medicine. With surgery being the only remedy that allopathic medicine had to offer, this was exactly what I was looking for. At one point, I consulted Professor Zabel who was the owner/director of the only private clinic for holistic medicine in Germany at that time. He told me to do the very opposite of what the surgeon had told me before: "Eat half a pound of cottage cheese every day and add herbs to your cooked meals and salads. They will give you the enzymes that you need. Without enzymes,"he added,"you will not overcome the colitis. But above all: get off the sulfonamides! They are doing more harm than good." He never charged me for his good advice which gave me back my strength within a short time. By following Zabel's guidance and enlisting the services of local clinical dowsers, homeopaths, herbalists, nutritionists and yoga instructors I turned my back on traditional medicine for good. Thus, instead of becoming an invalid, I became a life-long student of natural healing. I learned more in this one year in Berchtesgaden than at any other time of my life.

After submitting myself to a rigorous dietary and health regimen I was well enough by the end of the year to marry a former colleague from Reading University and move back to England. There I continued to teach undergraduates in the German department for another nine years. Although my condition had stabilized, I knew enough about this dreaded disease to be aware of the fact that unless the underlying soul wound was uncovered and addressed new stressors in my life could easily send me from a remission back into another bout with the colitis. Thus when problems arose in my marriage I saw this as a welcome opportunity to enter a Jungian analysis. The analysis which took place in London lasted five years. What I went through during the last year of analysis very few patients ever have to go through. I experienced a radical disintegration and restructuring of my personality not unlike what future shamans experience during their dismemberment and resurrection process.  As my old self slowly disintegrated, accompanied by a long series of increasingly menacing and archetypal death dreams, a new self was forming to take its place. And when the death and rebirth cycle had run its course, I had become a different person and the past had no power over me anymore. Literally over night, I became bored with my childhood history and with the analysis itself. All I wanted to do now was to get on with my life. On an outer level, during my years in analysis, Jungian psychology had become the center of my life. I had joined the London Jung scene where analysts and lay people happily intermingled. I became a member of the Guild of Pastoral Psychology and later of the prestigious Club of Analytical Psychology. I attended every evening lecture in London, weekend conference in Oxford and Jungian study group that was being offered. One year out of the blue and from an unknown source, an invitation arrived for the famed Eranos Conference in Ascona at the Lago Maggiore in Switzerland. These small, intimate, annual conferences have been a sacrosanct tradition since Jung's time. Here the most famous scholars from all over the world come together to speak on various subjects related to Jungian psychology. I attended this particular conference and many more after that, because they came to be the highlight of my year. It was with all these varied and wonderfully instructive educational experiences that my Jungian training actually began.

A dream had given me directions that I was to train as a psychotherapist. In this dream, I found myself in an open air classical Greek temple structure with the Mediterranean in the background and a dark skinned healer-priest at my side. He gave me a live snake to swallow. After the snake had made its way through the right side of my body it came out of my navel in form of a needle. Commenting on what had occurred the healer-priest said to me: "The snake has taken the poison out of the right side of your body. The left side will take time, but you are going to train anyway." The right side was my masculine side, the side of my father, while my left, feminine side, was that of my mother. It did not surprise me that my left side would take more time to be cleared because my relationship with my mother had been quite toxic. Only later did I realize that the dark skinned healer-priest who assumed that I would "train" had been Aesculapius, the Greek God of Healing, himself. This sealed my fate. I had to get ready to change professions.

To start with, I enrolled in a small, experimental training program, which had just been created by a handful of prominent Jungian, Freudian and Phenomenological analysts. It was intended to give people like myself without a degree in psychology the opportunity to receive a shorter and more affordable depth psychological training than the one being offered by the psychoanalytical training institutions. While in training with the Guild, I tried to get as much hands-on experience with mental illness as I could. I led a once-weekly dream group at the Salvation Army for a year and absolved a four months internship in the Medical Model Unit and the Psychotherapeutic Community at Fair Mile Hospital, a large mental health institution that served both Oxford and Berkshire counties. During one of the group meetings in the medical model unit, an in-patient ward for psychotics, I witnessed a spontaneous remission. While we were sitting on chairs in a circle a woman I had never talked to before threw herself into the circle and proceeded to crawl towards me on her hands and knees. When she reached me she hugged my legs and begged me to help her. I was deeply touched, which must have helped me to ask her all the right questions. Because after a few minutes of talking with her she had an aha experience and came spontaneously out of her psychosis. This repeated itself many years later in my private practice. A paranoid woman who had constructed an elaborate delusional system around herself regained her sanity when I asked her the right questions. Each time with my probing I had gotten to the root of the problem. The instant cure at the medical model unit caused quite a stir among the staff of Fair Mile Hospital and got me an invitation from the chief psychiatrist, Dr. David Duncan, to join him in his outpatient clinic for half a year. In these weekly all-morning sessions I learned a lot about mental illness by observing him at work. He also began to refer patients to me for private practice. My analyst doubled as supervisor for these cases. After an older woman who had just gone into retirement recovered from her depression after only a few sessions my analyst was stunned and asked me "What did you do?" I replied that in all honesty I had no idea. To keep this early success from going to my head the unconscious sent me a compensatory dream: I dreamt that I had been invited to the annual Queen's Party, which is a great honor in England. The Queen features a lot in English peoples' dreams as an archetypal symbol of the Self or Higher Self. I was wandering through a huge tent where many candles in different colors, shapes, and sizes were on display. A young man who was by my side began to pack a bunch of them into a plastic bag, which he handed me before he vanished. As I was standing with the plastic bag in my hand, the Queen's guard approached me and asked me in a stern tone of voice: "What do you have in that plastic bag?!"  My knees were shaking when I replied: "The Queen's candles, and I have stolen them." I was expecting to be punished for my theft but the guard said kindly: "As long as you remember that you have stolen them you may keep them."  This was not only a lesson for this occasion. It was a lesson for the rest of my professional life. I always remembered thereafter that if healing occurs in therapy the therapist cannot take credit for it. The credit belongs to the Higher Self, which is the source of all higher energies, including those which heal. And as long as we honor this basic truth these energies will always be available to us. If not, they will be taken away.

Meanwhile the training analysts of the Guild were trying to sort out their differences in endless discussions, leaving the trainees mostly to fend for themselves. It could have been a very interesting program because of its eclectic orientation had it not been for the ideological differences between the founders of the Guild. After two years of feeling abandoned, frustrated and depressed I decided that I was wasting my time and dropped out of their training program. Of the few alternatives that were open to me the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich was by far the best choice. For it is the only Jung Institute in the world that allows highly qualified professionals from all walks of life to be trained as analysts.

My move to Zurich turned out to be a radical break with the past. It ended my university career, my marriage, and my long-standing relationship with England, which had in many ways become a second home country for me. My years in England had been crucial for my development. They had healed me psychologically and physically and had given me a new purpose in life. The lessons I learned there - even on a social level- were invaluable. The English are socially more refined than the Germans and some of that English refinement had rubbed off on me. This helped me in Switzerland, which is a soft spoken, low key country. Therefore I never had to experience the hostility that the Swiss traditionally feel towards the more aggressive Germans. On the contrary, as soon as I crossed the Swiss border all the doors opened for me. Since I had come to the right place at the right time, I had the wind of Spirit in my back. The first windfall I had after settling into my one-room flat in Zurich and finding a sympathetic analyst was to be offered a six-week internship in the world famous Bellevue Sanatorium in Kreuzlingen on the German-Swiss border. It had been founded in 1857 by the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Ludwig Binswanger, a phenomenologist and personal friend of Freud, whose non-reductionistic approach to schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness had contributed significantly to humanizing psychiatry. The present director of the Bellevue Sanatorium was Dr. Wolfgang Binswanger, Ludwig Binswanger's son. He led the clinic like his father in an informal, personal, interactive style. This may have been the reason why the Bellevue was considered to be one of the toughest, most challenging mental health institutions for interns. I was contracted for a six-week period with a break on weekends when I was allowed to go home. I was assigned to the "locked ward" where the most serious cases were. I had been warned in advance that Binswanger, a man in his late fifties, would either notice me immediately or not notice me at all. I had hoped for the latter, because I was in awe of the man. He had a reputation of being an eccentric who meditated half of the day and believed that eleven years of analysis were only a beginning. Because of all the inner work Binswanger had done he had become highly intuitive. The Bellevue Sanatorium was then and perhaps always had been a clinic for millionaires from all over the world. Therefore the cuisine was cordon bleu, which I greatly enjoyed. One day, soon after my arrival, the staff and myself were sitting around the dinner table for our evening meal when Binswanger appeared in the doorway. He noticed me at once, came around the table and extended his hand to me: "I am Wolfgang," he simply said, "and who are you?" After I had introduced myself he took a chair next to mine. He read me some lines of poetry and whispered in my ear: "I have complete confidence in you. I feel such things." I had no idea where this was coming from and almost went into shock. Apparently he knew something about me I was not in on. But after my first, unexpectedly close encounter with Binswanger he disappeared. I never saw him again until the second half of my internship. The first half of the internship was sheer hell. I slept as the only occupant on the top floor of the 19th century three story villa where the locked ward was located on the first floor. On the second floor, directly underneath me, was the ward for juvenile addicts. My bed was as hard as a rock, the windows had iron bars on them, and every time I went to the bathroom at the other end of the long corridor the automatic lights went out before I could reach my destination.  On the way to the bathroom I had to pass an open door to a room where the window stood ajar and a black cloak fluttered eerily in the breeze. It would have been a perfect setting for a Hitchcock film. When I asked the staff about the third floor and why it had been abandoned they lied to me. Only at the very end of my time at the Bellevue did I obtain the confidential information from one of the therapists that patients had been caught practicing black magic up there and one of them had committed suicide.

During my first week at the Bellevue I had made excellent contact with the patients and gained the trust of some of them. This was noticed by the woman psychologist who was in charge of the ward. She decided to put an end to my productivity. She forbade me to talk to the patients, called me "a hole in the room" in front of the staff and assigned me to the kitchen to organize the dish washing. This way I could make myself "useful", she said. It did not help that I suspected that she had resented the special attention that Binswanger had given me at the beginning of my stay at the ward and that she was now punishing me for that. I still felt humiliated, frustrated and useless. I took in so much toxicity in the locked ward during the course of a week that when I returned to my flat in Zurich on weekends all I could do was collapse in the bathtub and cry my heart out. My analyst, Dr. Mario Jacoby, encouraged me to quit. "The Jung Institute does not require that you stay," he said. But I had made a commitment and decided to stick it out. My perseverance paid off in the end. In the second half of the internship Binswanger re-appeared like a deus ex machina. He ordered me out of the kitchen and told me not to waste my time with senseless activities. He wanted me to write a report about my experiences at the clinic and said he would not let me go before I had accomplished that task. Then he invited me to join him in his interviews with the patients. The most memorable experience I had in my collaboration with Binswanger was this:  Early on in my internship I had established a relationship with a very wealthy woman in her forties who was locked up in the closed ward for her alcoholism. After listening to her complaints and studying her clinical history I began to suspect that her husband, her lawyer, and her psychiatrist were conspiring against her and that her life might be in danger after her discharge from the Bellevue. When I shared my concerns with Binswanger he decided to follow up on that after I had left. He invited the woman's psychiatrist for an interview and questioned him for an hour without being able to elicit a trace of empathy from him. This he shared with me a year later when he called me in Zurich with a special request: I was to attend the patient's memorial service and report back to him.  When I questioned the patient's relatives about the cause of her death, they gave me evasive answers. This strongly suggested that she had died under mysterious circumstances. Although both Binswanger and I had sensed the danger she was in, we had not been able to save her life.

After I had written a frank and open report for Binswanger, he did something simply unheard of: without being asked, he wrote me a glowing reference which I was able to present to the Curatorium, the governing body of the Jung Institute. This stood me in good stead, when I later came under attack because of my interest in parapsychology. For with Binswanger's endorsement who could have called me a flake? Parapsychology was more or less blacklisted in the Jungian school despite Jung's own interest in the subject. My interest had been sparked by paranormal experiences in England and deepened further when I translated Jane Roberts' Seth Speaks into German. Gespraeche mit Seth, published by Ariston in Geneva, became an instant bestseller in the German speaking countries. To write this translation had been an economical necessity for me, because translations were the only kind of work that was allowed in Switzerland without a work permit. Since my small university pension would never have seen me through the expensive training program I had no choice but to supplement it with some additional income. This had been my defense when I was subsequently criticized for having translated an "undesirable" book by the analysts. But even more in my favor weighed the fact that I had written some desirable translations as well, namely Jung's English correspondence and articles for the Collected Works edition. Perhaps it was no coincidence that I was translating Seth Speaks and Jung's Volume 8 (about dreams) at the same time. However, at one point of this parallel work process I had been forced to put the Jung translation on hold because I was under pressure from the publisher to finish the Seth translation.  During this intermission Jung appeared to me in a dream. In the dream, I was Jung's secretary and had placed a copy of Seth Speaks on his desk. Jung was in one of those famous rages which used to terrify his secretaries. "Sabine Lucas!!", he shouted at me. "I am in the middle of telling a story and YOU INTERRUPT ME !" I was still shaking with fear when I woke up in the middle of the night. First thing In the morning, I rushed to take a look at Volume 8. What had Jung been raging about? Sure enough, I had left off in the middle of one of his case histories. I did not want to infuriate him even more. So I finished his story the very same morning.

Another source of income were my dream workshops, which took me to different parts of Switzerland. These were also undesirable in the eyes of the Jung Institute because Jung had been down on group therapy. But since my dream workshops did not involve any publicity the Jung Institute could look the other way. With the Seth translation it was another story. That had placed me in the center of public attention. For some of my readers I became a substitute for Jane Roberts, who was far away and inaccessible, and high ranking officers of the Parapsychological Society of Switzerland took a professional interest in me. They referred many clients to me who had trouble accepting their psychic abilities. And whenever a world class psychic came to town, I was notified in advance so that I would not have to be placed on the waiting list. I almost always made use of these opportunities, because they provided me with a first class parapsychological education and honed my discernment for psychic authenticity. Through my contact with the "Para", as the society was affectionately called, I also found out that I had psychic abilities of my own. A professional dowser helped me realize that I was able to detect underground currents of water - something I could readily accept. But then I stumbled across unexpected healing abilities which shook me to the core. A friend of mine had a migraine attack while he was visiting me. As he was resting on my bed I lay down next to him with my right hand draped casually over the right side of his head. Five minutes later he said: "The migraine is gone from the right side of my head now, would you mind putting your hand on the left side too? A few weeks later I put my alleged healing abilities to the test. My girlfriend was suffering from chronic pyelitis and antibiotics no longer worked. So I asked her to lie on her tummy and let me place my hands on her lower back. After a follow-up treatment a week later her pyelitis was gone and never returned. I did not know about Reiki at the time and had no frame of reference for what I had done. This was deeply troubling for me. So I decided to confide in one of my supervisors, Dr. Guggenbuehl-Craig, who was a psychiatrist and a medical doctor. Guggenbuehl was an honest man and a pragmatist. I knew he would not become hysterical over what had transpired and have me certified. Guggenbuehl did not disappoint me. With his usual cool objectivity he said: "The removal of the migraine could have been psychosomatic. But the healing of the pyelitis is quite another matter. That means you have got something." He ended his assessment with a serious warning: "Don't ever do that again until after your graduation. Then you can do what you want." I knew that he was protecting me and never attempted another healing until several years after my graduation when I signed up for Reiki training. Thanks to Guggenbuehl's sound advice and my own circumspection I managed to graduate from the Jung Institute with a diploma in 1987. Strictly speaking, I graduated with two diplomas - one in English the other one in German - because I studied and took exams in both the German and the English Department.

In my training analysis, we had been facing a dilemma from the start, because of all the inner changes that had already been accomplished in my five years of analysis in England. And in addition, I had learned to interpret my own dreams. For a traditional psychoanalysis there was nothing more to do. My seasoned analyst, Mario Jacoby, recognized this at once and reduced the required two weekly sessions to only one. He also said: "I have never seen such a classical case of individuation. All I can do is sit back and watch." And that's what he did for six long years until we both were bored to tears. He sat silently in his arm chair across from me while I interpreted my dreams and shed buckets of tears over a romantic relationship he did not approve of but thankfully never interfered with. Meanwhile the core of my inner work continued behind his back on a level shunned by the Jungian school: the super-conscious level where our past lives are stored. Only one of my teachers, Dr. Elizabeth Ruef, had in my second semester dared to give a series of public lectures on this forbidden subject. For that she had been ridiculed by her colleagues and eventually cast out of the Jung Institute. So I knew that I had to use great caution. During my training, I was flooded with past life dreams, which I had to hide from my analyst. Fortunately I found a strong ally in Jenny Ganz - a professional past life reader with exceptional accuracy. By providing me with an overview over twenty of my lifetimes she made it possible for me to track down the bloodlines of my soul -  personal attributes, fields of interest and "themes" that we carry with us from incarnation to incarnation. But Jenny’s past life readings were only the beginning of many decades of continuous past life dream recall and past life regressions. In the United States, where I moved after my graduation in 1987 and went into private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico, my inner work morphed into a new form of Jungian past life therapy which is based on dreams and past life integration. After twenty years of working with clients on their past life material I felt compelled to preserve some of their stories as well as my own in form of a book that was published by I Universe in 2005 under the title ’Bloodlines of the Soul’ and in 2008 re-published by Inner Tradition/Baer & Company under the new title ‘Past Life Dreamwork: Healing the Soul through Understanding Karmic Patterns’. Apart from recording and preserving highly personal past life information, some of which could be validated through historical background research, this book is also a first attempt to provide a phenomenology of past life dreams, which can be used by the public to recognize their own past life dreams.

The integration of past life material as aspects of our greater self has opened up new dimensions of our self knowledge and self understanding. Although it is a “path less travelled” it may be the only one that leads to complete “individuation” in Jung’s original sense of the word.

For me there is only a traveling on paths that have a heart, on any path that may have a heart. There I travel, and the only worth-while challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.

— Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda