The Marion Woodman three day Dreams workshop was warm, challenging and wonderful. I’ve been wondering what to share with you. Dream work is so personal, but then, so is eating disorder recovery. The most powerful image I had, toward the end of the second day, my intuition tells me is relevant to all eating disorders.
Marion Woodman as Teacher and Inspiration Marion is in her eighties. Her body is disintegrating.
She uses and needs a cane. She conserves her energy as best she can. She survived and recovered from a serious bout with cancer. But, when she speaks, her spirit is fiery. Her eyes glow. Her voice is strong. She beams warmth and assertive direction that makes us forget her physical frailty as we become inspired by her wisdom and passion.
Inspiring Imagery The image came through to me of a candle, but not a candle with a wick that burns on top. This white luminous candle contains a wick in the center that burns all the way from top to bottom within the wax. The fire within sends out heat that melts the wax from within. So, for Marion, the image was of her inner fire melting her body away. I stayed with this image since Marion inspired it but was not it. The image went much farther. The length of interior burning wick, if too hot, melts the wax encasing. The candle is gone leaving only a line of fire. Well, that could mean that the spirit burns brightly but is without a body. This is an anorexic dream.
Another Version Another version is this: The length of interior burning wick is hot and melts the wax encasing. But, more wax is added on a continual basis. This makes the wax thick and forever thickening so the heat of the fire doesn’t penetrate through the wax and into living space. The candle keepsg getting bigger and the light is continually less visible. This is the experience of the binge eater or compulsive overeater.
Bulimia and the Image What about bulimia? In terms of my image, bulimia is represented as a different kind of torment. In this version of the image, the wholeness of both the fire and the wax is aware. The fire burns and the wax melts beginning to reveal the blazing wick. But the feelings that go with that fire are too intense to bear. Then the wax builds up thickly to bury the flame. The dullness of that burial is too lonely and terrifying, so the wax is allowed to melt away until the terror of exposure forces the build up again. This is the in and out, here and gone grueling and endless repetition that is unaddressed bulimia. These are powerful and helpful images for me. They hold intellectual, emotional and physical understandings in a way that only intuitive imagery can pull together and allow to develop simultaneously.