The human mind is like an alluvial mine. Just below the surface of the ground, or mind is that area of mental and emotional activity which carries with it all the mental and emotional activity which have been experienced by the individual. The subconscious level, or mine, contains a volumne of experience and reality. Within it are creative powers beyond belief.

ALLUVIAL MINING

By far the largest area of the mind, the subconscious, is built up with associated sense impressions and memories dating back to the womb. This submerged area of mentation is the creative part of the mind, a wonderland of mystery. According to Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, it is the area which contains a summary and reservoir of race, memory and accumulated skills. It is the submerged part which is the powerhouse from which radiates the most illuminating inspirations of artistic genius. It is synonymous with Mnemosyne, goddess of memory and mother of the Muses. 

In Bernard Shaw's 'Saint Joan' we hear the final words of the executioner and Warwick after Joan's death. The executioner says 'Her heart would not burn, my lord; but everything that was left is at the bottom of the river. You have heard the last of her.' Warwick, who intuitively understands that it is not so easy to remove the influence of a woman like Joan prophetically says, with a wry smile, thinking of what Ladvenu said "The last of her? Hmm! I wonder." Perhaps Shaw was thinking of those who bore witness to the travesty that they witnessed or perhaps he is alluding to the creative part of men's brain which remembers all, a legacy of Mnemosyne. 

Psychologists now generally regard the subconscious as the great storehouse of life's experiences. Research reveals that the ability to access and use this region of the mind directly determines the success of creative workers, whether they are scientists, authors, musicians or business leaders. The study of the beginnings of mental processes that have led to all the great inventions and insights reveals that these inspirations have emerged from a field of subconscious activity. Milton's reference to the Muse in the 'Nativity Ode', "Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford a Present to the Infant God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode" clearly depicts the Muse as a figure, outside him. Since Jung's more recent findings we might reasonably argue that Milton is really deferring to a subconscious field of activity, of which he is merely an agent. 

Most artists speak of their talent coming from some source outside him or her, of being an agent of a greater force. Hesiod, a humble Boeotian farmer claimed that the Muses appeared before him, on Mount Helicon, and put in his hand a branch of olive wood and breathed into him a divine voice. William Blake, the English artist and poet is said to have done his immortal work while his subconscious was in complete control. Dickens declared that when he sat down to write, "some beneficent power showed it all to me." Keats said that the description of Apollo in the third book of Hyperion came to him "by chance or magic to be - as it were - something given."

The Bible makes illusions to this 'beneficent power' when Jesus comforts his disciples saying, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." St John 14:16,17. The disciples were completely bewildered by this talk and Judus asks an obvious question of Jesus "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" St John 14: 22. Unfortunately Jung was not around to explain to Judas that this beneficent ally that Jesus was speaking have was the collective unconscious.

In the Phaedrus Socarates paved the way for Jung to discover the workings of the subconscious by saying that "every man's soul has by the law of his birth been a spectator of eternal truth, or it would never have passed into this our mortal frame, yet still it is no easy matter for all to be reminded of their past by their present existence." Plato believed that within every mortal frame resided all knowledge, all the great and useful secrets. This claim was to be taken on board by Freud and Jung when they discussed the collective unconscious and talked of the companionship it provided. 

Within the Phaedrus lies other clues to the nature of the creative impulse its direct link with the subconscious. For example, after Socrates has concluded his dialogue with Phaedrus and prepares to cross a river by which they have sat, he is made aware of a sign and hears a voice that warns him not to depart until he has purified himself. The voice he hears makes it clear that in his speech he has committed an offense against heaven. He acknowledges his 'prophetic skill' and says "the soul too is in some sort prophetic. For (his) pricked (him) some time ago, as (he) was uttering that speech." Socrates must have been taken aback to receive such a stern warning from within. The Greeks, despite their powers of reason, explained that which was inexplicable by using symbols like the Muse, the gods and the goddesses. Socrates states that "we owe our greatest blessings to madness, if only it be granted by Heaven's bounty. For the prophetess at Delphi, you are well aware, and the priestess of Dodona, have in their glorious moments of madness done great and glorious service to the men and the cities of Greece'. It is in this way that he explains what he doesn't really understand; the source of creative genius. 

Socrates endeavors to dissect the creative impulse when he says that there "is a possession and a madness inspired by the Muses, which seizes upon, a tender and a virgin soul, and, stirring it up to rapturous frenzy, adorns in ode and other verse the countless deeds of elder time for the instruction of after ages." His use of the Muse fires the imagination. Had Socrates written 'inspired by the subconscious' we would not have been tantalized or tempted to undertake the pilgrimages to Delphi to drink from the Castalian waters. Without such a tangible destination man would have been forced to stay home to puzzle over how to reach the inner source. Mere mortals prefer to look beyond themselves to explain that which they cannot see or touch or begin to comprehend. They like to be able to reach out and touch or drink. 

To further highlight the potential of the subconscious as a source of creative genius let us look at other examples from the ancient world. When primitive man figured out how to build the 'Tower of Babel' God was not impressed. He spoke out saying "Behold, the people are one, and they all have one language; and this begins to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have not imagined to do." At this point man had clearly tapped the creative energy of the subconscious. The subconscious is imaginative and inventive. It never grows weary. It is a willing servant of the man or woman who understands it and uses it intelligently. It helped man design the pyramids and the Cretan labyrinth. The subconscious is so inventive that it has the capacity to build the Tower of Babel and help man to speak a universal language.

In his oration to Phaedrus, Socrates bequeathed some solid information on how basic concepts arrive. He speaks of being illumined, like a flash of light. He suddenly saw that he should not displease the Gods, just as Eve quite suddenly "saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes." Most artists reveal a close kinship with this concept. Achimedes solved the problem of specific gravity as he relaxed in his morning bath. It is commonly held that ideas occur in very unorthodox conditions like this. James Watt invented the steam engine during a relaxed walk on the Sabbath. Edison claimed to have plucked successful methods 'right out of the air' and French mathematician, Henri Poincare said that ideas 'frequently flashed into his mind while he was engaged in other activities.' Likewise ideas cross the bridge from the subconscious to conscious through the medium of dreaming. 

From Socrates through to Jung the human mind has been recognized as the richest unexplored area of the world. Our future now lies in the utilization of these largely untapped resources.

My work in the field of writing leads me to propose that when we establish a relationship with the Muse, which is another term for our subconscious, we are so stunned by the 'knowledge' that lies within that we learn to respect ourselves and come to believe that we have something important to say. 

TO MINE

In order to effectively mine this alluvial vein of gold you need to undertake all important preperation and keep returning to the mine , use your intuition, search for links along the rich vein and dig deeper and deeper. Alluvial mining never has been a simple affair. There are no nuggets of gold lying around on the surface of the ground here.

The Alluvial Mine is the property of Heather Blakey and Miners who have generously shared their work. Please do not replicate any part of this mine without written permission.