For primitive man, the days after solstice marked the worst period of the year, believing as they did that the sun had died. Of course it was when the struggle to survive was hardest and death was an imminent possibility. This brings to mind Freud’s idea of the death instinct which he thought of to explain why we repeat in dreams and life the scenarios that have brought us suffering. It’s a need to go back to that bodily experience whether good or bad. We may have a longing to return to an earlier state of life. Thinking too much can seem oppressive and we somehow want to return to an inorganic state where we don’t have to think or have too much awareness of reality.
The psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein felt that the death instinct was tied up with reproduction and life. She wrote in her paper “Transformation and Symbols of the Libido” about passion and the drive we have to love which can manifest in both it’s most constructive and destructive forms at this time of year.
“This passionate longing has two sides: it is the power which beautifies everything, but in a different set of circumstances, is quite as likely to destroy everything”. Some theorists have believed the death and life instincts oppose each other and others, like Spielrein, that they work together.
The end of life and our thinking selves is a reality and this sense of our impermanence an important factor in feeling the thrill of being alive. It’s only when we lose control or feel that sense of the essential precariousness of our control, that we feel truly alive. But feeling this can involve profound fear, especially if we have little trust in others to help us when we feel so helpless. It can be so hard to balance the feeling of being in charge of your own life and knowing when to let go and ride the waves of life. Sometimes to be fruitful involves letting go of control and entrusting yourself to fate.