Seminar Dates and Locations      Articles      Joseph Campbell      Site Map      Search

FDR at Campobello

Nova Scotia Postcard, 2000

Dear Travelers,

This time, the call of the wild led to Nova Scotia. The actual call came from a television program called *In Search Of...* The series is returning and will be on the Fox network this season. They interviewed me on the mythic elements of the lake monsters. Apparently, people have been sighting the creatures in bodies of water all over the world. One evidently lurks in the depths of Lake Utopia in New Brunswick, just north of the Maine border.

The filming at the lake went well, and I found the eyewitnesses fascinating and credible. The program is set for initial broadcast on a Friday in November. My perspective is that these sightings are important in a mythic sense. One possibility is that the lore of sea monsters and lake creatures represents some aspect of the unconscious that is pressing to be known.

My psychological comments were well received by the producers, but they had a lot of material from visits to five lakes, including Loch Ness, so I don't expect my interview to be a big part of the program. Basically, I held that the monsters of the deep are richly symbolic. On a personal level, they might represent the shadow - those feared qualities that are hidden within each of us.

Jung believed that we can find gold in the shadow. That is, the unclaimed parts of ourselves hold great potentials - such as knowledge, insights, and effectiveness that can be developed once these inner aspects are known and accepted.

The search for a lake monster would be a projection of the inner quest for wholeness. Those who are least aware of their inner mysteries would be most likely to explore the outer world in quest of the unseen.

Tiamet, Zaguk tablet

Tiamat, a primeval dragon of Mesopotamian mythology, was the mother creator goddess who ruled until the king of the gods destroyed her. Tiamat was a personification of the open waters. One might see how the lake monsters are close parallels to Tiamat.

Monsters in a more general sense, often represent a more instinctual chaotic quality within each of us. Every young adult must come to terms with the monster to some degree to have a life. Later, in midlife, the monster can represent lethargy. One may have to face the monster again to recapture the vitality required for the second half of life.

Anyway, I had a grand time holding forth on the mythic imagination as reflected in the monster sightings. I do not think there are giant unknown creatures in the lakes, but I do believe there are secret energies within us that are worth exploring.

After the filming, I took a few days to see the sights. The coastal village of St. Andrews is the site of The Algonquin - a grand hotel from the twenties - so I stayed one night in that elegant time capsule. Many of the seaside towns in New Brunswick are very British.

Had to see Campobello Island, where FDR had his summer house. It was at this house that he got the polio that left him disabled for life. The house and grounds are well tended. I have been to his home at Hyde Park on the Hudson, and on his presidential yacht, and to the winter place in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he died - so I guess all that makes me a certifiable FDR buff.

Driving south into Maine was a moving postcard with all the timeless fishing villages, deep woods, and lobster stands you could imagine. Took a ferry out of Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia and drove through the long green forests toward Halifax. Checked out a few of the little seacoast towns to eat varieties of seafood. My new favorite is something called Lobster, Nova Scotia style. It is in a herbal cream sauce that is to die for. One little hamlet was where The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore and Robert DuVall was filmed - so the cafe had lots of photos of the movie in the making. Whole sections of the town look like they were built in the 1700s.

Halifax is so Scottish. The castle-like fortress on top of the big hill high above the harbor is guarded by a soldier in a kilt. Saw some displays on the Titanic. Halifax was the rescue operations center in the days after the disaster and there are monuments to the lostsouls. Went down to the welcoming ceremonies for the icebreaker Simon Fraser that had just completed a historic journey through the northwest passage from Vancouver.

The best museum in town was at the big pier that had been the immigrants' point of entry. It is Canada's equivalent to Ellis Island, and the displays were quite moving. The only other time I visited Halifax, our ship berthed at this very dock - because it was full of immigrants from Sicily. I was a small boy travelling with my father in third class. I played with the kids from steerage all across the Atlantic. Canada kept immigration open much later than the U.S.. I have always prized having that first-hand exposure to the immigrant experience. A shipload of the hopeful poor was probably much the same in the 1950s as it had been in 1910. There was a picture of the ship we had crossed on in the displays at the museum.

Driving North, took a ferry to Prince Edward Island and visited the one great literary site of what the Canadians call the maritime provinces. This was the actual house in which the story *Anne of Green Gables* is set. It is in the area where the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, grew up. The cottage is well preserved and has very green gables and trim. It had once belonged to cousins of her grandfather. There is a haunted forest, where the author is now buried, and other settings from the story. The nearby village of Avonlea is all restored and much visited by travelers from all over the world. The story is particularly popular in Japan, and a high percentage of the tourists are from there. Many Japanese couples come every year to be married at the Green Gables cottage or the church in Avonlea.

Heading South across the soaring Confederation Bridge back into the province of New Brunswick, I stopped at Moncton, one of the centers of the Acadian culture and home of one of the largest French-speaking Universities in Canada. There are Acadian villages, museums, and cultural centers throughout the maritimes. The word Acadian is derived from Arcadia, an early romantic name for North America. Arcadia was a beautiful wooded area of ancient Greece. I was aware that the Acadians were the people who were largely expelled by the British in the 1700s. The emigres went South to the other French-speaking region in North America: Louisiana. The name was shortened and they became known as the Cajun people. The few that remained in the Canadian maritimes gradually recovered their numbers and are now a thriving culture, mostly in the rural areas.

Driving south, past the many lakes, through the lavish forests to Saint John, the fall colors were just starting to come on in all their radiance. Exploring the port city on the last day included seeing houses the loyalists built when they left New York and the other colonies during the revolutionary war. Went to see the reversing falls that surge backwards when the highest tides in the world arrive. Had to eat lobster just one more time. Can't resist when a whole boiled lobster is ten U.S. dollars. In the quiet of Sunday evening, I walked the old business district richly embellished with grand Victorian stone buildings.

In a few days, it felt like a quick visit to England, Scotland, and France. It is startling how much cultural difference there is just over the border. Also, being around deep lakes, rivers, thick forests, and rocky coastlands is good for the soul. Living in Southern California, I forget how restoring it is to be embraced by the verdant splendor of the regions to the north.

Jonathan