Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Psychic Circus

I sat among the audience within a circus tent watching a one-ring show. Many faces, shrouded in the shadows, stared up at the lone performer silhouetted high above by a spotlight.

He clung to a wire attached to the very top of the big top, then slid slowly down. At the lower end of the wire, suspended about ten feet from the ground, was a trapeze. When the performer reached this trapeze he sat on it, then flipped backwards until only his feet were holding on by the ankles.

Upside down, he thrust his arms downward as if feeling for the earth below. But it was out of reach.

As he dangled in the air pivoting and squirming, I saw for the first time . . . the performer was blindfolded.

And I also understood that the point of the show was to see whether this man would try to escape the uncertainty of being suspended - whether he would dare jump to the stability of solid ground.

The scene revealed a strange inversion: normally it is the acrobat who knows the actual risk involved in his performance, while the audience greatly exaggerates it. Circus drama depends on viewer uncertainty, upon magnifying their perception of the danger.

But in this case the audience knew what the performer did not – that the distance between him and security was actually small. So the drama concerned how he resolved his fears about the situation, rather than the situation itself.

I had a seat at the Psychic Circus!

Some elements of the symbolic content of this scene seemed clear – the many faces in the audience represented diverse aspects of the unconscious psyche, while the performer was the egoic consciousness, effectively blind in the realm of deeper realities.

The “circus” suggested the fantastic (as in fantasy) and ephemeral nature of this life’s experiences, their dreamlike claim to a level of importance not merited in the grand scheme of things.

The performer also resembled the Hanged Man of the Tarot, suspended by the ankle with his arms outstretched.

Yet, though the Hanged Man seems helpless and out of his element, this vulnerability is said to be an opening through which greater insight may come.

By becoming consciously aware of what is always true anyway, namely that he IS suspended in the will of the Divine, he has the opportunity to trust rather than oppose such existential uncertainty.

The best response is indicated from the expression depicted on his face, namely

Peace and contentment.


  1. So true and how easily i forget.

  2. Yeah, "By becoming consciously aware of what is always true anyway, namely that he IS suspended in the will of the Divine..." Thank you for remembering us to this when we are feeling we are on shaky ground!

  3. Thanks for your comments. They ARE appreciated!