Photographing sunset at Kippford.

Lone Pine

The seed of a mountain pine contains the whole future tree in a latent form; but each seed falls at a certain time onto a particular place, [the seed deals with] stones, the slope of the land, and its exposure to the sun and wind. Thus an individual pine comes slowly into existence, constituting the fulfilment of its totality, its emergence into the realm of reality.

Carl Jung/Marie-Louise von Franz (1964)

Individuals, be they like that pine tree or like you and me, are unique. Their particular form is created by the forces that act on the source, be it seed or embryo. Nature and nurture vie. Prior to the interaction there was only a potential, 'a latent form'. The parts awaited, like oxygen and hydrogen, but there was no water. Individuals come more slowly into existence than water, but in both cases our accounts obscure the magic: what was not, now is. Our minds supply spatio-temporal context which seems to cover the passage from non-existence to existence. But every particular object we encounter has made this journey; a journey that may start before the big bang, but is universal whatever its origins.


The book 'Man and his Symbols' was collated and published three years after Carl Jung's death in 1961. It starts with a main chapter by him, followed by essays from a range of contributors, these included Marie-Louise von Franz's chapter 'The Process of Individuation', from which the quotation is taken (p. 162). The lone pine in the picture stands at the entrance to the Mã Pì Lèng Pass in the north of Hà Giang Province, Vietnam.


Saturday 20th
April 2019

Murphy on duty

Details of the
Greeting Card

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