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Two Stories of the World

by Glenda Cloughley

‘Sooner or later it will be found that nothing really ‘new’ happens in history. There could be talk of something really novel only if the unimaginable happened:  if reason, humanity, and love won a lasting victory’. 
C G Jung, The Simple Life, CW, Vol.18, 1356)

This very night a hundred years ago my great grandmother Margery is sitting at home in the quiet darkness. She sings softly to the youngest of her eight children who is snuffly and sick. Her husband and the other children are asleep.

George and Lex, two of her three oldest sons, are home from war.
 She thinks of the nights George wakes them all, screaming an anguish that clings to the walls, vibrating when she is alone. She feels the terror that sometimes leaps from him into her heart.  She thinks of Lionel in his grave in France and of how, in the morning, she will bake for her friend whose 21-year-old son was also killed a year ago. As she cries, she draws the little one to herself to protect him from all that.  And she thinks again about the two stories of the world that dwell under their one roof now. Surely, the kindly story that nurtures life will prevail. The other story destroys life.

I was practising my cello five years ago, thinking something like that when the first song came for A Chorus of Women’s new choral drama
. For this year’s performances of The People’s Passion I added The Wellsprings about the common, ever-bubbling source of Margery’s lullaby.


The Canticle of Night


THE YOUNG GREAT GRANDMOTHER
Lay lulay lulay
Threads of memory and dream
I’ll spin for you
In night’s black and silver mantle
we’ll sound the round from death to birth
And when the shining young moon
lifts the old one high
lament will turn to lullaby

and hope will turn the night
Lay lulay lulay   My little babe
And when the world’s at war
it seems love’s circles are all torn
Though a hundred years may pass
yet mothertime is now
And before each new child's born
we’ll sing for peace
and hope will bring the light
Lulay, lulay

The Wellsprings

WOMEN’S CHORUS
Threads of memory and dream  
she spins in the web 
From The Wellsprings she brings
songs for children and Earth 

Singing night to day, death to birth 
lament to lulay, sorrow to mirth
Calling fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers
to turn our ears to the heartbeat of The Wellsprings …
The Spirits of the Wellsprings never die away
They are the mothers of the Songs of Life
When our loved ones fall
The Wellsprings flow down deep

Far from the green of the sprouting seeds
Then our love for the children calls them home again


Margery and her Alexander lived by this first story of the world, raising their children, helping sustain Riverton, their community in the far south of New Zealand. Margery knew that the other story of the world was not the right way. How could it be?  In The People’s Passion the Storytellers sing:

Dreamers and Singers
Great grandma’s three sons
Were dreamers and singers
Before they went to war
But the youngest was killed
And the two who came home
ever dreamed, never sang again

Trauma Law


WOMEN’S CHORUS
Men from Australia
Men from New Zealand

trusting commanders
of empires and armies
who cut nature’s cycles
though there is no future
if the roundabout turns around
war and revenge
For the law of revenge
takes eye after eye
Unseen and unseeing
Blind making blind
The compassionless law of
trauma breeds trauma -
war after war within and without …
How shall we stop The Traumatime March
?

Margery probably never discovered that the kind story she sang into her children was the force that impelled 1300 women from 12 warring and neutral nations to The Hague for the only international peace conference of the First World War. Their men were caught in the roundabout of Trauma Law on both sides of the war, and in the failure of neutral nations to mediate. But the women’s mighty effort to stop The Traumatime March transcends time, offering ongoing inspiration to peacemakers and people’s movements.

Resolutions of the 1915 International Congress of Women read like an agenda for every human rights advance of the last century. Their envoys travelled to 14 countries, presenting the world’s first method for mediation to more world leaders than anyone else saw in the war years. US President Woodrow Wilson used nine of their resolutions in his famous ‘Fourteen Points’, which were the basis for the charter of the League of Nations, precursor to the United Nations. Two of their leaders, Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, won Nobel Peace Prizes.

Military historians ignored the women, omitting them from the record of significant people and events of the First World War. But the women kept enacting the first story of the world as resolutely on the global stage as Margery sang it into her babies. Jane Addams leads the Chorus in singing the ‘wellspring’ principle of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom they founded.
 

Peace is not merely an absence of war
Peace is the nurture of human life
Yes, peace is the nurture of life


This year’s performances of
The People’s Passion update the action to 1919 with an ear to potentials for the kind story within current crises, including climate change. Among new stories are the 1919 International Congress of Women, which sought to influence the terms of peace, and the Save the Children Fund, which saved the lives of millions of children and the humanity of millions of adults.


Reports on
The People’s Passion and A Passion for Peace, including recordings, are at Events,
www.chorusofwomen.org

Dr Glenda Cloughley
is a Jungian analyst in private practice and a poet-composer for A Chorus of Women, which has been taking up the role of the ancient Greek chorus in our city for 16 years. The Chorus comment on events with original songs, dramas and occasional ‘singing papers’ at conferences. They promote a culture of dialogue in Canberra, leading civic conversations in search of wisdom on some of the great issues of our time.

On 28 and 30 June, the Chorus received standing ovations from packed houses for presentations of Glenda’s choral drama
The People’s Passion to mark the centenary of the 1919 International Congress of Women in Zurich and the founding of the Save the Children Fund at the time of the Treaty of Versailles. Glenda also helped to lead an ANZSJA professional development workshop on Cultural Trauma on Saturday 29 June at the same venue, the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture where A Chorus of Women has an ongoing residency.   

Contact:
  glenda.cloughley@ozemail.com.au   Phone 6239 6483 or 0408 628 221

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