When my alchemy group met in early November, it was to explore the symbol of the Crown, which is usually intended as a recognition of something — achievement or status, perhaps. We created crowns out of grapevine, colored paper and various sparkly materials, and wore them at the end of the evening, laughing together at how marvelous and outlandish they were. Our leader said, “Would you ever make a crown by yourself at home? No. But do you deserve one? Yes!”

One of our members, Ann, missed this particular gathering due to an injury. This was too bad, as we all agreed that this would have been exactly Ann’s sort of project. Her creations are always lavish and colorful. It would have been such fun to see her fashioning a crown.

After the gathering, we circulated photos of the work via email. Ann expressed her admiration and appreciation of our images and told us she had been awarded a “crown” of her own, a cervical collar she would wear for the next 7-10 days while her neck healed. She joked that she could perhaps decorate the collar as her crown project, but that this would be over the top.

Our group was unanimous in voting that it would not, in fact, be over the top at all. It would be quite appropriate. I remembered another project that Ann had done in which she incorporated a quote from Carl Jung that I can’t exactly recall (though if any of my fellow adepts remembers it, perhaps they will be so kind as to post it in a comment). The quote was a reminder that the point of our work is not to become perfect, it’s to become a whole person. The things we try so hard to hide about ourselves, the flaws, the disfigurations, the wounds and the quirks, are also where we carry a hidden power. So why not crown the accidents and injuries, the bizarre and the absurd as well?

I can easily picture Ann wearing a fabulous, bejeweled neck brace on a wonderfully long, regal, injured neck.

Update –  Ann sent the quote I referred to in the post above. It reads:

“The unconscious is always the fly in the ointment, the skeleton in the cupboard of perfection, the painful lie given to all idealistic pronouncements, the earthiness that clings to our human nature and sadly clouds the crystal clarity we long for… there is no light without shadow, and no psychic wholeness without imperfection. To round itself out, life calls not for perfection but for  completeness, and for this the “thorn in the flesh” is needed, the suffering of defects without which there is no progress and no ascent.”

Jung, CW 6, p. 78