What is that book you’re always carrying? my friend wanted to know. So I opened it and read to him:
“But the first of the thunder and lightning was always high, wild, savage and frightening. Every year people in our part of the land were killed by lightning. Yet long before I learned at school that lightning was electricity, and all else physics had to say about it, I caught the symbolic ‘other’ from Klara, for whom it was a pure phenomenon of the spirit. While the women of our community on their different farms would fold up the silver and metal in the house in sheets and blankets in the belief that otherwise they would attract the lightning, hanging towels over all the mirrors and drawing the curtains in their haste, Klara would sit with me on our great verandah and make me look at the lightning because she said that every human being had the same light as the lightning in his eye, and the fiercer the lightning outside, the brighter the light with which the eyes must look directly, steadily and without swerving, back at the lightning. She believed that if the light in one’s own eyes did not respond and flare all the brighter because of the example of the lightning, there was a form of lightning that would go black and invisible, and that that form of lightning was the lightning that killed.
“This was for me one of the earliest and most convincing illustrations of how symbolic the Bushman spirit was, how rich in the primordial wisdom stored up in that two-million-year old being of which Jung spoke to me later, describing at as ‘a living treasure of the all the experience and knowledge gained since the beginning of time’, and warning that if one lost touch with this innermost source and its symbols, life, rootless and adrift on the tides of fate, would fail and die. Fairly early in my life, thinking of the Bushman symbolism as I had done from the beginning, I thought of the lightning and the light in the Bushman eye staring back at the lightning as images of consciousness and awareness, and I ended up where I still stand today by thinking of lightning as the call to the battle for increase of awareness which is the imperative in creation.”
~Laurens van der Post, The Voice of the Thunder