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Psychological Perspectives
A Quarterly Journal of Jungian Thought
Volume 55, 2012 - Issue 3: Mortality and the Millennium
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Honoring the Mantis Between Our Toes

Pages 331-341 | Published online: 10 Sep 2012


Sir Laurens van der Post, friend to Jung and fierce advocate for the Bushmen of the Kalahari, expressed his protean gifts and passionate spirit as a novelist, journalist, statesman, and conservationist. His oeuvre of more than twenty-five published books includes A Mantis Carol, his memoir of a synchronistic series of events that led him to travel from his home in London to visit a New York analyst who had been tantalized for many years by near-nightly dreams of a praying mantis. That visit led him to befriend a young woman who related her childhood relationship with circus performer and family friend Hans Taaibosch, who’d become a magical and precious soul friend to her despite remaining in some ways a profound mystery. Together, she and van der Post pieced together Taaibosch's likely origins as a Kalahari Bushman, whose capacity to experience and give joy van der Post saw as an outgrowth of the deeply earthed spirituality of a people whose god, Mantis, is guided by his dreams. One hallmark of Bushman culture is their ritual dancing, their most important dances being “The Dance of the Little Hunger” for food and “The Dance of the Big Hunger” for meaning. The author describes her own synchronistic encounters with mantises and what they and van der Post taught her about the instinctually healing properties of our embodied relationship with one another, our fellow creatures, our dreams, our bodies, and the earth from which all possibilities are born.


Sharon Heath is a Jungian analyst in private practice and a faculty member of the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles. She writes fiction and nonfiction exploring the interplay of science and spirit, politics and pop culture. She is a former Associate Editor of Psychological Perspectives. Her novel The History of My Body was published by Fisher King Press in 2011. She has contributed a chapter to the anthology Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way. Her article “A Jungian Alice in Social Media Land: Some Reflections on Solastalgia, Kinship Libido, and Tribes Formed on Facebook” appears in the Vol. 6, No. 2, Spring 2012 issue of Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche.

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