Santa Is Real
San Diego-based management consultant, and president of The KindExcellence Institute, Reut Schwartz-Hebron has asked some great questions on LinkedIn, many of which I have tried to answer. She has two going right now on the nature of truth, myth and Santa.
Let's start with Santa, then move on to myths.
The whole "Santa is real/Santa isn't real" rite of passage in our culture is part of the coming-of-age process that kids must go through.
Having gone through it, I still believe in Santa...whoever the heck he is.
The curious thing about Santa is that he may be a lot older than we think. Some scholars have traced him back to Yule and his great flying hunting party. Others suggest that Santa originated in mushroom (amanita muscaria) popping shamans in prehistoric Siberia and elsewhere, long before today's religions came along. Under the influence of hallucinogens, these proto Santas would "take flight" and experience a state of joyful ecstasy.
This meditation on the reality of Santa reminds me of a book I read many years ago, called The Symbolic and the Real: A New Psychological Approach to the Fuller Experience of Personal Existence, by Ira Progoff. It opened my mind to the possibility that what we call "real" may not be the end of the story.
Progoff was a major figure in the field of depth psychology. One of Progoff's principles was that each of us has within us everything we need to live a creative life. But because of distractions, we tend to lose contact with the resources of creativity that are contained within us. We live too much and too long on the surface of life. To access the depth of our inner reality, we need to find ways to move deeper, to go beneath the surface level, and to re-establish contact with our personal center and with resources for growth that are present, but which lay beyond our usual attention.
These depths of inner life can be explored using dreams, memories, imagery, poetry and intensive journal methods.
This depth psychology posits that there are connections between our inner life and our outer life. The more an individual increases awareness of the workings of their inner life, the more access he or she will have to their own inner materials, and the more resourceful, creative, integrated, and healthy they will be as a result.
Essentially Progoff was developing ways "to shed light" on one's inner truth, to help people journey within, to find their inner myths, and create personal meaning.
So, yes Santa is a myth, but why not enjoy him and all the other colorful pagan elements (tree worship, mistle toe, reindeer, flying sleighs, dwarves, elves, etc) that have survived millennia and live on in the depths of our imaginations.
For me, the idea of Santa represents some basic human values, such as Giving, Surprise, Joy, and Celebration.
Wouldn't it be great to take joyous flight, as Santa does each year?
Posted by Terrence Seamon, December 21, 2008