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Frank N. McMillan Jr., A Life in Quest of the Lion
By Frank N. McMillan III
Texas A&M University PressCopyright © 2012 Frank N. McMillan III
All rights reserved.
The Summons: Early and Middle Years
DREAMS AND REFLECTIONS ON REALITY, CONSCIOUSNESS, RELIGION, AND INDIVIDUATION
One of Frank's first journal entries in his middle years (ages 39–47) will set the stage for what is to follow. True to Carl Jung's psychology, Frank experienced a midlife crisis; he questioned life's purpose and meaning. Once Frank had read Jung, he reinterpreted an early dream that proved to be critical to the unfolding of his personal myth. Frank was tested by bouts of illness—heart disease and a pituitary tumor—but he endured with his lion alongside and his eagle overhead. His journey toward wholeness truly represents the individuation process at its best.
A healing nightmare from childhood initiated this shaman from Calvert, Texas. This powerful dream of an African lion befriending Frank turned out to be prophetic. Frank's high school valedictory speech, which follows the "Prelude" and "An Early Dream" below, outlines his "dream of a better world: honor, justice, freedom" and "making glorious the story of civilization." It also overlaps with theologian Paul Tillich's "ultimate concerns."
One of the few things about which I am absolutely sure is that we live and move and have our being in the midst of a mystery that is beyond our imagining. The more we explore the mystery the deeper it becomes. It is, I think, the chief responsibility of mankind to carry out that exploration with its utmost ability. It is not limited to technological or scientific exploration. It is better defined as an expansion of consciousness. The individual human being is the only carrier of the differentiated consciousness of which I speak. The expansion of consciousness gives meaning to my existence.
I could not have said the above words before becoming acquainted with the works of C. G. Jung. Maybe I would have eventually come to the same conclusion. I do know that I have found my experiences confirmed by him and this gives me the confidence to trust the ideas resulting from these experiences.
Jung and other men of the past have spoken of their daemon. Daemon is defined by Webster as an attendant, ministering or indwelling power or spirit. Because of them I have the confidence to trust my daemon. I do not possess my daemon. It more nearly possesses me. It would be wrong to attempt to ignore it; therefore I have resolved to listen to it. I do not know the consequences of having made that resolve; I do not know whether or not I shall be able to maintain it. I shall endeavor to do so.
The expansion of consciousness is a lifelong process and was called by Jung "the process of individuation."
An Early Dream (about 1934 at the age of seven)
Setting: My mother is in the hospital in Temple for an operation. My father and I are alone on the farm.
The Dream: My father and I go to the house of one of the Negro tenant families for supper. The people there are black and hospitable. After returning to our house and retiring, I awake to see a huge maned lion standing in the door and looking at me with great yellow eyes. I am paralyzed with terror—unable to move or speak. The great lion slowly approaches and—licks my face with his huge tongue. The terror is released and I let out a mighty yell that scared my father half to death.
Interpretation: For forty years this was simply a nightmare—but I never forgot it. After becoming acquainted with Carl Jung, I began to see the symbolism. The meal with the black folks (a thing not done in those days) was a meeting with and acceptance of my "shadow." The lion was that autonomous part of the psyche, the collective unconscious. When faced and recognized he (it) proved to be a powerful and friendly force. In later years, this dream has become a comforting, sustaining force.
These Things Will Endure (Valedictorian Address, Calvert High School, 1944)
Nothing can shake men loose from their dreams of the ages—a dream of a better world. This dream will endure through the annals of time. Honor, right and justice. These things will endure. No matter how hard the men with warped minds may scheme to get control of the people and their governments, eventually the flag of justice and right will fly from every masthead of every nation.
It has been a long time since man first started down his long trek for a perfect world. But always the rainbow has been in the sky. Always the Sun of hope has come with each new day. Time has been going around the clock for centuries; but man has never ceased his quest. He never will. Man's desire for a better world will endure.
There will always be forces which we must combat in this world. It is but natural with so much activity that once in a while there is born into the world an individual who gets the wrong slant on his mission in life. Man comes to know his own strength when he has to combat evil.
Man is made for achievement. There will always be opportunities to achieve. Even in the cloudiest of days there will be work for each one of us to do. We can achieve if we but put forth the effort. We may come near failure. But by grim determination we can overcome the obstacles. An opportunity for achievement will always endure so long as time continues. Life's greatest reward is achievement after struggle.
Your obligation and my obligation to mankind will always endure. That is to say that each member of each generation has a duty to perform to society. There will never be an age in history in which the individual will not be responsible for his contribution to society. We would not want to live in a world where we did not count, where we were not held responsible. We are thankful that such an obligation will always endure.
Man's love for freedom. Man's hope to achieve greater things for himself than his forefathers had. Man's desire to leave the world better than he found it. These things will endure.
There is something in man which causes him to seek the high road instead of the low. There is something in man which causes him to strive to reach the mountain peaks. There is something within man which causes him to reach out a helping hand to a weaker brother and give him a lift. There is something in man which gives him a feeling of nobility toward labor. This something in man will endure.
The greatest challenge of time to man is the challenge for man to reach out and conquer the environment in which he lives, to use his abilities and talents toward fashioning a better world, toward producing a nobler race, a finer piece of handiwork of art, making more glorious the story of civilization.
This great challenge will ever remain—it will endure. As young people, we hold the ambition of youth, to enter into a field of activity in the world which is ours. This is the ambition of youth that will always endure as long as time itself. In that spirit we take our departure from high school and pick up our responsibility toward the job of making a better world, and helping the dream of ages to come true.
Selected Journal Entries
JULY 17, 1966 (AGE 38): EARLY NOTIONS AND INSIGHTS
A people's culture (particularly its religious, economic, and political institutions) develops from certain basic assumptions as to the nature of man and God (Reality). These assumptions can rarely be proven; therefore they are in essence Faith. Cultures change, either by evolution or revolution. The total revolutionary must first smash and destroy all existing cultural institutions and ideas, hence the ruthlessness of Marxism. Likewise the individual born into a culture must:
(1) Accept and Absorb it.
(2) Evolve slowly over the years to more personal and contrasting points of view at variance with the basic assumption
(3) Rebel against and violently reject the basic assumptions (Faith) of this cultural environment.
SUMMER 1968: A HIGHLY SYMBOLIC DREAM
I am in a well-lighted pleasant barracks—my comrades are outside engaging in some kind of athletics. I rush to join them but am unsure how to get out of the barracks.
I go down to a lower level; it is something like a church (I have forgotten the details, but I seem to remember colored windows, and a choir). I continue down to about the fourth level and it is a dusty cave—like a catacomb with old bones on the dusty floor. Despite all this it is an interesting place—not totally unpleasant. I pass through this place and am in the sunshine outdoors.
Some companions (two, possibly three) and I cut down a green post oak tree about 14" in diameter. While thus engaged, my father and two cowboys (Mexican?) come by on horses. We exchange pleasant greetings and they ride off across the waving grass of the prairie.
Then the strongest part of the dream: We (my companions and I) peel the outer bark from the tree. On its inner surface is a perfectly clear picture of a smiling medieval European. He has on a blue beret and wears a mustache. Below this smiling picture is written the date 1366 (I believe). I am not sure about the date, but I am sure the man pictured on the tree and the date were contemporaneous. The episode with my father and the picture was a very pleasant experience. I awoke with the feeling that very strong symbolism was involved. Later, I thought the figure in the oak tree is very obviously Mercurius, the trickster!
JULY 1, 1970: A DREAM
I was at A&M. Astroturf was being installed on Kyle Field (this is in fact being done). In the general clean up some old (students') baseball caps were discarded. I admired them but did not decide to take one until they were all gone. Older students were in the classroom and mess hall. It was a pleasant place. I somewhat envied them. I am on a fresh clean running creek—something like an enlarged Pearson's Branch. A friendly stranger is fishing with no luck—I explain to him that the creek almost dries to a trickle in the dry season and for that reason there are no sizable fish in it. Nevertheless, on my first attempt I catch a nice fish (white with dark stripes) identified as a "Gaspergoo," a freshwater drum fish. The creek is crystal clear and fast running. Interpretation: Lament—missed opportunities for intellectual pursuits. Consolation: Rich psychic resources discovered from unexpected source—day to day living.
JULY 2, 1970: THOUGHTS WHILE DRIVING TO WORK AFTER READING JUNG
To appreciate a savior it is necessary to have an awareness of the dark forces. The autonomous devil (dark force) is blurred or blotted out by intellect (the conscious mind). He is nevertheless present in the subconscious. The subconscious attempts to deal with him through recourse to saving archetype. The more intellectual the individual the more obstructing clutter and encumbering the action of the saving archetype. It is a case of consciousness hampering the action of the unconscious. If we know the devil only intellectually, then we know the savior only intellectually; which is not at all. (This would be externalizing archetypes.) The forces of light and darkness are obscured by hanging definitions and dogma over their shapes.
JULY 23, 1970: DREAM FRAGMENTS
Fragment One: In a room with an old man, who at first appears to be Mr. Maston Nixon (my former boss at Southern Minerals Corporation) and later seems to be Franklin D. Roosevelt. He is obviously a man of authority, still dignified but now old and not in his former position of power. Nixon is of the opinion that I represented him in a real estate conveyance (2.65 acres) some years ago. He has the deed on old parchment with a notation by the other party to the conveyance that he dealt with his "avatar" (or some similar word). I don't know the word and never use it. This seems to settle the matter and establish that I did not make the trade since I would never use the word. I never heard of it. [Frank's note: avatar means an incarnation or embodiment of a deity in human form.]
Fragment Two: In a corral with a number of farm animals. I try to identify two of my old horses "Jack" and "Sailor Boy." Then in a larger pasture with many animals and people. I'm carrying a little boy (about 2 years old). A horse roughs up a little girl, hitting her with his head and nipping in the manner of a stallion. I run him off. She runs across the pasture and I see him again nipping at her at a distance. I sprint to her rescue looking for a stick or some weapon on the way. The adversary then seems to be a man in a cave or old stone corridor. I get set to brain him with a rock when he comes around the corner. Another man is with me. The adversary turns out to be friendly and we go into a room or cavern where there is a group of people—fades out. (Protecting anima and confronting shadow.)
Fragment Three: (the strongest images of any of the dreams. It's like I'm watching a performance of a picture show and not actually in the picture) A man is relaxed on the beach. He is a man of high rank. He starts to leave when he sees a large black funnel cloud. The tornado approaches an old large square multi-story house and completely destroys it. Out of the debris a new simpler structure is fashioned and occupied by women and children. There is no lapse of time between the destruction of the old house and the appearance of the new very simple structure (like a fade-out and fade-in in the movies). (Death-Rebirth theme and contact with anima and a simpler life.)
SEPTEMBER 28, 1970 (AGE 43): DREAM FRAGMENTS
Fragment One: While away at a congenial meeting with a large group of people, someone in authority (Maston Nixon) whom I am with has brought a live fish (small shark) in a tank of water to show or instruct the crowd. My task is to clean the fish for display. On opening the fish we are surprised expecting only "milch" (fish roe) since we expected the fish to fast or refrain from eating on the trip. However, the fish has continued to eat during its transportation. It has consumed dried shrimp and bread that the authority figure (Nixon) provided. Strangely, the bread is still in the fish's mouth when I gut him. I leave the party to go where I am lodging to put on more appropriate clothes. I ride a strange vehicle (like a lawn mower) backwards. The vehicle stalls when we are pursued by a large dog. I fall on my back and am in a helpless position before the dog but he does not attack me. At our lodging my son (Frank) is with me and I am attempting to get dressed. I am embarrassed because a group of women and children return before I get on my clothes. (The fish is a symbol of transformation. Changing persona and the confrontation with the dog which like the serpent is a healing symbol.)
Fragment Two: I am driving a pickup truck down the highway in the Midwest. Bo Allen, a male companion of my own age is with me. We follow a Mexican family in an older car pulling a grain auger. I recognize the driver as one who usually drives a pickup at reckless speeds. We stop at the home of some friends. They are a Midwest farm family. Male members are on the porch. We do not go in. Three of us, Bo (childhood friend), me and a male companion walk out to look at the countryside. We are impressed with its rolling beauty and truly to imagine it when it was all grass and full of buffalo. It is now plowed up (freshly) and obviously very fertile. Remnants of last year's wheat (oats?) crop are standing. We walk to a singularly high promontory, exclaiming at the fine view of the countryside. We are startled by the far side of the rolling hill as it is a sheer drop (vertically) of hundreds of feet. We admire the view, but retreat from the brink because it might slough off. We go to one side where the precipice may be viewed without such danger.
We are joined by a couple, one of whom is a young woman who exclaims at the beauty of the view. Suddenly there is before us a great stone wall of a large building (is it a church?) with crystal clear living water cascading down its side. Water also cascades down the vertical slope of the precipice. It is magnificent. There is no apparent entrance to the building. This is a very strong and pleasing symbol.
(At first confronting and accepting shadow figures, getting very high and danger is involved—ego inflation? Then, when in a safe place, the couple appears, i.e., inner marriage to the anima. Finally, the powerful stone wall—religious—and the living water images suggest flowing contact with the collective unconscious, the Self and the healing waters of the feminine.)
JULY 16, 1974
Two important concepts: (1) Perspective and (2) Projection.
(1) Values depend on perspective. That is, if we equate reality with the limits of ego-consciousness, our values are those of the phenomenal world—that is the material world. If we include the eternal spiritual world in our perspective, then the worldly values are inverted and stood on their head—that is, they are reversed. If the spiritual dimension forms the larger part of reality our values change radically.
(2) Projection. The psyche is real. It embodies powerful archetypes. The Self or the God-Image is the most powerful. The real attributes of this archetype are projected onto and into a human being, i.e. Christ. Christ then becomes an intelligible object of adoration, love and worship occupying time and space. The collective unconscious exists in all individuals; therefore, the emotion of the constellated archetype may find expression in any man—and it may be focused in Christ as the God-man with form, body and physical reality.
Why Nietzsche is no longer as disturbing as he once was: (1) He holds Christianity to be a "religion of the weak: a 'slave morality.'" He may be right, but, I, restricted to my ego consciousness, am weak. I have been shown this in my recent illness. All men, deprived of the strength of the spirit are weak. So it is right that men seek to find strength in the only place it can be found—in the realm of the spirit, which is the realm over which Christ reigns, the Kingdom of God. His (Nietzsche's) view of the Overman may be a projection of attributes of an archetype onto man, but no Overman exists unless it is Christ!
Excerpted from Finding Jung by Frank N. McMillan III. Copyright © 2012 Frank N. McMillan III. Excerpted by permission of Texas A&M University Press.
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