In 1985, the late Frank N. McMillan, Jr. donated funds to his alma mater, Texas A&M University, to endow the worlds first professorship in Analytical Psychology. Born in 1927, McMillan experienced a childhood immersed in the now almost vanished natural world of rural America. Inspired by an early archetypal experience, as an adult McMillan set out on the quest for meaning that transcended the limits of his traditional Christian background and propelled him into a firsthand encounter with the autonomous reality of the psyche. This search ultimately led to Jung.
Last Updated on Sunday, 27 October 2013 20:37
Written by Frank N. McMillan, III
THE PATTERN OF THE LION
The Inner Quest of Frank N. McMillan, Jr. and the Story of the Creation of the Worlds First Professorship in Analytical Psychology
A paper by Frank N. McMillan III
SUMMARY: In 1985, the late Frank N. McMillan, Jr. donated funds to his alma mater, Texas A&M University, to endow the worlds first professorship in Analytical Psychology. Born in 1927, McMillan experienced a childhood immersed in the now almost vanished natural world of rural America. It was a time he would later characterize as idyllic and it was the setting for his first remembered encounter with the collective unconscious, a vivid childhood dream of an African lion, an experience so awe-inspiring that it launched him on a spiritual journey that soon left the boundaries of his traditional upbringing far behind and shattered his old view of the universe. Inspired by this early archetypal experience, as an adult McMillan set out on the quest for meaning that transcended the limits of his traditional Christian background and propelled him into a firsthand encounter with the autonomous reality of the psyche. This search ultimately led to Jung. The body of this paper examines events in McMillans inner and outer lives, including the amazing tale of how he first learned of Jung from an artist in a small Texas town, a fateful meeting that thirty years later inspired the creation of the groundbreaking endowment dedicated to the Swiss healers work. McMillan died shortly after the founding of the university position. In the final dream he reported only days before his death, he described white cranes flying across the horizon. In Taoist mythology, these birds symbolize immortality.
In 1985, the late Frank N. McMillan, Jr. donated funds to his beloved alma mater, Texas A&M University, to endow the worlds first professorship in Analytical Psychology. As time goes by, it becomes ever more apparent what a turning point this was in the history of the Jungian community. For the first time, Analytical Psychology was given a proper faculty position in the insular world of academic psychology, theretofore a realm dominated to an extreme and almost prejudicial degree by its experimental and cognitive/behavioral schools. The provenance of this professorship itself is in some ways even more remarkable than the fact that it exists at all. And therein lies a story. It is one I know well, for it is the story of my father and his life-long inner quest for meaning, a journey towards individuation that soon transcended the limits a traditional background steeped in the culture of rural Texas and propelled him into a firsthand encounter with the autonomous reality of the psyche.
To better appreciate the truly visionary nature of what my father did, I think it helps to understand something about the Weltanschauung from which he emerged. He was descended from the Scots-Irish settlers who arrived in the first wave of Anglo-Celtic immigration to Texas, then a province of Mexico, in the early 1830s. Possessed of a robust sense of personal honor, the Scots-Irish were a fighting people, fiercely independent, defiantly egalitarian, and suspicious of human authority, bending a knee only to the fundamentalist Christianity to which they adhered.
Originally from the Highlands by way of Ulster, in the first part of the nineteenth century the McMillans sailed to the Carolinas and then made the dangerous overland journey to Texas. An historical marker near present-day Benchley, Texas on the site of the Old Kings Highway lists Ann McMillan as one of the original settlers who were granted a league of land in 1833. A recent widow, Ann drove the ox-drawn wagon that carried her children and her through the wilderness to their new home. Ostensibly under Mexican governance, the true rulers of the Texas frontier at this time were the Comanche Indians, the nomadic warriors once called the best light cavalry in the world, and the frequency of their raids soon ensured that the McMillan women became as proficient as their men with the flintlock rifles they brought west with them. Edward McMillan later fought at San Jacinto, the battle that secured Texas independence from Mexico. In time, the family came to farm acreage all over what is today Robertson County and when the county seat of Franklin was platted they donated the land. Relatives who later settled nearby included the Wheelocks, descendents of Eleazer Wheelock, the founder of Dartmouth College.
William Andrew McMillan, my fathers grandfather, owned an insurance business in Calvert, Texas. As a place, Calvert embodied the high aspirations of the Victorian era. Gothic, Italianate and Queen Anne-style mansions, whitewashed clapboard churches and a main street lined with brick
storefronts sat near the banks of the Brazos River. Cotton was the economic lifeblood of the community and at the turn of the century Calvert boasted the largest cotton gin in the world. While the fertile bottomland that was the source of the wealth was mostly owned by planter families who came to Texas from the Deep South in the 1850s, the crop itself was cultivated and picked by African-American tenant farmers, the children of the men and women freed by that most traumatic event in American history, the Civil War, the four years of death and suffering that kept the Union intact and ended the great evil of human slavery on the North American continent.
Decidedly cosmopolitan for its setting, Calvert was home to citizens of German, English, Alsatian, French, Czech, and Polish nativity, amongst others. Its main street featured an opera house, a theater, and a substantial hotel. Some of its leading citizens were Jewish, and the town had a Jewish school and cemetery. At its economic and demographic height around 1900, Calvert never recovered from a string of natural and economic disasters that followed on the heels of the First World War. A depression in cotton prices and a series of disastrous floods combined to deal the prosperous small town a blow from which it never recovered. Today, the place is almost deserted and mainly known for its antique stores and Victorian architecture.
My fathers father grew up in Calvert when it was at its peak and graduated from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in 1912. His great love was animal husbandry and, as a young man, he won prizes all over the United States for the cattle, sheep and horses he showed. After serving with honors in the American Expeditionary Forces Sixth Cavalry in France in 1918, he was offered the position of head of the agricultural faculty at A&M, but declined. He was a selfeffacing gentleman with an abiding love of the countryside, and an inveterate disinclination towards crowds and large institutions. My father regarded his father as the most capable man hed ever known, and said he could ride and rope better than any cowboy, doctor and deliver livestock, dig a well, graft fruit trees, flawlessly keep double-entry account books, and quote Shakespeare and Robert
Burns. My fathers mother, Ella, nurtured her only child with Dantes awesome Love that "moves the Sun and the other stars." A genius in her own way in the kitchen and home, she was an extraordinarily talented woman whose vibrant intellectual and organizational gifts shone in all that she did despite the limitations imposed on her by her culture, place and time.
My father was born at the family farmhouse in Milam County, Texas on September 23, 1927. By the stories he told me when I was a boy, I know his childhood was an extraordinarily happy one. He grew up amongst the everyday activities of a working farm and later in life he loved to reflect back on the early morning chores when the frost was on the ground, the milking, the egg gathering and the longing bleats of the lambs in the fields. When he was barely old enough to ride, he climbed atop a saddled donkey and followed his father on his daily rounds. Later, by horseback and afoot, he roamed across the pastures, orchards and surrounding woodlands, where he hunted, fished, swam, and spent nights along the sandy banks of the Brazos River. It was an idyllic upbringing, and more than once he likened it to something out of Mark Twains Huckleberry Finn.
Apart from his parents and grandparents, the most significant people in my fathers early life were the African-American tenant farmers who worked the surrounding countryside and his earliest playmates were the children of the twenty or so families who lived nearby. In a situation representative of Depression-era Texas, all cultivation was accomplished by plows pulled by mules, and the raw cotton was picked by hand. The men didnt seem to mind if a wide-eyed boy tagged along and my father loved to listen to them as they worked. In later life, he retained their unaffected laugh, and you could hear the accent and cadences of their speech in his own voice. From memory, he could still relate many of the expressions and parables that were at the core of this profoundly humane, profoundly spiritual, now all but extinct, oral culture.
In high school, Dad was captain of the football team and valedictorian in a graduating class of only ten students. That made him laugh. He delivered his valedictory address in the guise of the
famous Antarctic explorer Admiral Byrd, fur coat and all, surrounded by hay bales that were draped in white sheets to resemble icebergs. As you might imagine, he laughed a lot about that, too. In 1944, at seventeen years of age he enlisted in the U.S. Navy because he feared World War II would end before he was able to take part. In the last year of the war, he served in the Pacific Theater. In 1950, he graduated from Texas A&M College with degrees in Geological Engineering and Petroleum Engineering. A staff officer in the Corps of Cadets while at A&M, he remained commissioned as a second lieutenant in the naval reserves until the end of the Korean War.
Upon graduation, he began work for the Southern Minerals Company as a petroleum landman. A few years earlier, hed met Mabel Hall of Hearne, Texas. They married in the Episcopal Church in San Marcos, Texas in 1952. As hard as it is for our more cynical time to believe, love at first sight does happen. Even more remarkably, it can last. Dad once told me that he was glad that I had found someone (my wife, Sheryl) that I loved as much as he loved Mabel. In every dimension, they were one. In 1955, they moved to Corpus Christi, a port city on the Gulf of Mexico, where they raised three children, my sister, Molly, my brother, Andrew, and myself.
After working for the Southern Minerals for seventeen years, my father founded his own oil exploration company, Quaesta Energy in 1967. From then on until his death, he developed oil and gas properties all over South Texas. When he wasnt at the office or in the field, he devoted his substantial energies and talents to things like photography (an accomplished nature photographer, he had his work printed in Texas Game & Fish, the precursor to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine), woodcarving, and the handcrafting of wooden furniture. Although he was an unassuming man, his professional expertise and personal integrity were well known. Shortly after he died, one of his oilfield colleagues told me that my father, who was nicknamed "Cowboy" for the Stetson he always wore, was widely regarded as the best landman in South Texas. Another confided that in his opinion my father was the most honest man in Corpus Christi. In regard to this, my mother told me
something that Dad never mentioned. It is one of those anecdotes that convey the essence of a person. When I was not yet two years old and my father was still young, my grandfather collapsed with heat stroke after he had been roping cattle in the Texas heat. My father desperately attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to no avail. As he held his own dying father in his arms, my father promised him that he would never be dishonest. To my knowledge, he never was. Its small story, but better than anything else I can think of, it tells you about the kind of man he was.
Devoted to his family and work, my father also served his community. Over the years, he held a number of volunteer positions at the First Methodist Church, Rotary Club and other charities. He was a trustee for The Jung Center in Houston, Texas and was a member on the Development Council for the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. At the request of his friend, Jungian analyst James Hall, he helped found the Isthmus Institute for Science and Religion in Dallas. Higher education was especially important to him and along with the McMillan Professorship in Analytical Psychology he also gave a Presidents Endowed Scholarship at A&M in honor of his parents. He died on March 4, 1988 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In the end, however, outer accomplishments are far less important to an appreciation of my father than a review of the milestones of his inner life, for it was there that his greatest work was achieved. To borrow the language of Alchemy, his "Opus Magnum." This interior work is his real story. Inspired by an early archetypal experience that shattered his old view of the universe, he set out on a spiritual journey that soon transcended the limits of his traditional upbringing and drove him to an encounter with the autonomous reality of the psyche. This quest for meaning ultimately led him to the work of C.G. Jung. And, like so many great stories, it all began with a dream.
Years later, he recorded this dream in one of the journals that he kept for most of his adult life. Early each morning, he arose before daylight and then by hand recorded his dreams and thoughts in a series of small, identical volumes. Several hundred pages scripted in black ink chart
the course of his inner life, and in them he identifies a "big dream" that came to him when he was seven years old, one that set his feet on a path that ultimately led him far beyond the psychological boundaries of his youth. It proved critical to the unfolding of his personal myth. Here it is in his words from his journal:
Setting: My mother is in the hospital in Temple, Texas for an operation. My father and I are alone on the farm.
The Dream: My father and I go to the house of one of the black tenant families for supper. The people there are hospitable and welcoming. After returning to our house and retiring, I awake to see a huge, maned lion standing in the bedroom door and looking at me with great yellow eyes. I am paralyzed with terror unable to move or speak. The great lion slowly approaches and licks my face with his huge tongue. The terror is released and I let out a mighty yell (that, in actuality, scared my sleeping father half to death).
Interpretation: For many years, this was simply a nightmare, but I never forgot it. After becoming acquainted with Carl Jung, I began to see the symbolism. The meal with the tenant family (a thing not done in those days) was a meeting with and acceptance of my "shadow." The lion was the autonomous part of the psyche, the collective unconscious. When faced and recognized consciously it proves to be a powerful and friendly force. In later years, this dream has become a comforting and sustaining force.
In conversations, my father often mentioned this dream and its imprint on him remained forever fresh. As he understood it, the dream lion with its piercing eyes and rippling muscles was his first summons from the collective unconscious, his call to seek the Self, the imagery of the meal with his black neighbors a symbol of reconciliation with the rejected aspects within us all, and impressive, too, in its joyous sense of brotherhood. Instead of devouring him, as he feared, the lion walked over and in the dignified ease of the wild, licked his face in the loving seal of a natural creature claiming one as its own. To the Lakota people of the Great Plains this dream would have been "big medicine," an initiation and call, with the lion acting as my fathers guardian spirit, an archetypal essence appearing in animal form. To the Lakotas, such a vision brought certain obligations with it, for the one who received a vision was obliged to share it. The dream had to be made to walk the earth, its message actualized in time and space. This was a lot to ask of a small boy, and, in truth, to my father for many years the dream was only a nightmare. "Just a dream" was the expression his elders used. Yet, before he died, at the end of a spiritual quest that demanded his all, the pattern of the lion that came in the night was made real, transformed into that most rare and most real of all things, a dream come true. Like anything worthwhile, however, it came at a price.
Dad grew up in a religious culture that was essentially unchanged from that of the Texas frontier of a hundred years before. The center of his family was the certitude and strength of the Methodist Church. His paternal grandfather, William Andrew, was a pillar of the local church and he was a tremendous influence on his grandson. More than once, Dad said that his grandfather was the most truly "saintly" man hed ever met. His life was one of supreme Christian faith and devotion. The family possesses letters that he wrote to my father on the occasions of birthdays and other special events and these warm missives are unique examples of love for, and trusting obedience to, Jesus Christ. On his deathbed, William Andrew said he wasnt afraid to die because soon he would "gaze on the face of the Master." That is real belief. And it was a belief that was harder and harder for my father to share. Its literalness was a stumbling block to his growing reason. In his twenties, he found himself no longer psychologically contained within the embrace of the orthodoxy in which he had matured. No longer could he be satisfied by belief only. He had to know. As much as he loved the comforting story of unquestioning faith, its fire had grown cold in him. I can only imagine that this must have felt like the death of an old and dear friend to him. Yet as much as he knew anything, he knew that existence was not meaningless. The numinous dream lion implied a purpose in the universe that he could trust, a purpose that he felt to transcendent, immediate and real. But from whence did Meaning, and, more particularly, his own Meaning, derive? That was the question. With genuine fear for his soul, he began a search beyond the horizon of tradition. To quote from his journals:
This has recently become apparent in my own understanding. I admit it with inner fear and trembling because of the powerful spiritual force that flows through Christ. But the historical Christ encumbered and overlain by dogma and frozen tradition has for me become an obstacle to direct experience with the Holy Spirit. I say Holy Spirit instead of God because a direct experience with God is too awesome to be easily spoken of.
To remain authentic to his intellectual integrity and his dreaming self, my father knew he had to venture beyond the limits of mere belief and be open to the sea of experience, no matter the anguish it caused him. Confronted with this crisis of purpose and meaning, he plunged into this inner sea and then swam.
The first thing he did was to read. The beneficiary of an excellent scientific education, he began to make up for lost time in the more liberal arts. Plato, Dante, Goethe, Kant, Spinoza, Nietzsche and William James became intellectual companions. He studied religion, mythology and philosophy. When something beyond words was necessary, he turned to Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. And often as possible, he tried to remember his dreams, ever respectful of the power that emanated from the unconscious. Yet, even as his career and outer life prospered in a widening circle of friends and associates, he felt increasingly lonely. As his own consciousness grew and his struggle with fundamentalist doctrine intensified, he experienced the tension of the opposites that is, in its own way, a kind of crucifixion, and he descended further into a spiritual loneliness. Leaving behind the habitual unquestioning in which the majority of his peers lived rendered him solitary, and this awareness weighed on him. Yet, in many a myth and legend, at the point where the abyss looms, rescue comes.
At the climax of the American Indian vision quest, when one is thirsty, tired and most alone in the wilderness, the spirit helpers arrive. To the suffering young brave, soaring eagles, bear warriors, or bison trailing stardust appear to provide the healing vision. In psychological terms, the collective unconscious provides the material to forge a new way of being. From the unconscious, the Self makes its presence felt and a sense of alienation disappears and the unity of all created beings is revealed. One is known again and isolation vanishes like dew before the sun. As forlorn as any Lakota warrior crying for a vision, my father had reached a crisis point. And then, at very point where the abyss loomed, rescue came.
The year was 1954. The place was a roadside café in the small town of Wadsworth on the Texas Gulf Coast. As is often the case in rural areas, the local café was the community gathering spot. Business was transacted, gossip exchanged and news of the world debated over scrambled eggs at breakfast, chicken fried steak at lunch, and coffee and cigarettes at any time. My father had stopped for lunch. All morning hed been driving dusty back roads, trying to lease oil and gas properties from local landowners. Happy to find a spot at a table in the cool dark, he had just sat down when the course of his life changed. Forever.
Suddenly, a man unanimously deemed by his fellow citizens as the town "eccentric" burst through the door. Although he called himself an artist and was laughed at all the more for that he made his living fishing for shrimp, and, out on a mosquito-infested, weed-choked peninsula accessible only by boat, he lived like a hermit in a ramshackle barge turned upside down and covered with tarpaper and shells for insulation. Heads turned as he waved a sheet of paper high in the air and exclaimed, "He wrote me back! He wrote me back!" The disheveled man went from table to table, presenting the letter like an offering at an altar. The other diners simply chuckled, exchanged a few knowing glances and then went back to their food, but my father was intrigued. Who could send such a letter, a letter that moved someone so profoundly? The receipt of it on the stranger was so electric that his eyes burned like a prophets. My father intuitively knew something important was happening. And he was right, for this was no ordinary man and this was no ordinary letter. The man was Forrest Bess and the letter was from Carl Jung. The spirit helpers had arrived.
Forrest Bess was a visionary abstract artist whose oil paintings featured symbolic images that he saw in his dreams. Inspired by Jung, with whom he corresponded, he kept a notebook by his bed in which he drew his visions before he translated them to canvas. One of Americas most fascinating and unusual artists, Bess showed at the famous Parsons Gallery in New York City along with titans of abstract modernism like Rothko and Pollock, and was highly praised by Columbia Universitys acclaimed art historian, Meyer Shapiro, who became a personal friend.
As for Carl Jung, my father had never heard of him. But, when he witnessed the almost magical, transformative effect the letter created, he knew he had to find out about its author. Like a Grail questing knight who had "entered the forest at its darkest point," my father had become alert to clues and hints from the dream lions realm, the place from whence Meaning sprang. There was something significant here he felt. He asked the wild-eyed man in the ragged clothes over to his table and invited him to sit down. Then, for the first time, he learned about the Swiss healer. What he learned transformed him. Again I quote from his journals:
One of the few things of which I am absolutely sure is that we live and move and have our being in the midst of a mystery that is beyond our imagining. The more we explore the mystery, the deeper it becomes. It is, I think, the chief responsibility of mankind to carry out that exploration with its utmost ability. It is not limited to technological or scientific exploration. It is better defined as an expansion of consciousness. The individual human being is the only carrier of the differentiated consciousness of which I speak. The expansion of consciousness gives meaning to my existence. I could not have said these words before becoming acquainted with the works of C.G. Jung. Maybe I would have eventually come to the same conclusion. I dont know. I do know that I have found my experiences confirmed by him and this gives me the confidence to trust the ideas resulting from these experiences.
Later, he more succinctly put it to a close friend, "Jung saved my life."
After that fateful meeting in the café, my father was on his way. Throughout the 1960s, with gathering speed he read everything he could get his hands on, either written by, or about, Jung. By 1970, he very probably owned one of the largest personal libraries on Analytical Psychology in Texas. This took some real doing in that it was done long before the Internet and chain bookstores existed, and in a place that was remote and removed from the mainstream of American intellectual life, to say the least. But assemble a library he did, with all the care and effort that the most dedicated medieval alchemist devoted to his own art.
As a boy, I often accompanied him to our local bookshop to pick up those Bollingen Series books with the mysterious, black dust covers. I particularly recall his anticipation the day Volume 9, Aion, arrived. But all this was only preparation, only a prelude to the real task. Entire passages were meticulously underlined in his firm hand, any unknown terms defined in the margins. He tilled the pages like a field and the resulting harvest was full measure. Nearly every page of his battered copy of Memories, Dreams, Reflections was scored with penciled lines and notes. Due to his own health issues, he found particular resonance in Answer To Job. He sifted Jungs words like a prospector, seeking the transforming gold. To paraphrase Jung, however, he did not try to ape the Swiss psychiatrists "stigmata", but, rather, strove to authentically live his own life. Jung once commented, "Thank God Im Jung and not a Jungian." My father understood that.
The great contribution of Jung is not that his ideas form any final explanation . . . but that they are penetrating insights that open doors and lead the way for further elaboration and understanding.
And there was no whitewashing. My father realized Jung cast a deep shadow. He was aware of his counter transference issues and especially of that most grievous failure of all in which Jung inadequately and with a still lamentable diminution of feeling all-too-late said he "slipped up." Dad was well conscious of his own human weakness, too, and he wrestled with that angel until the end.
From the 1960s onward, Dad recorded a rich and varied dream life. One dream from this period is amazingly similar to one Jung shared with Freud on their voyage to America in 1909. Jung dreamt of a multi-story house where he found two skulls in a dusty cave beneath the cellar. My father dreamt:
I am in a well-lit, pleasant barracks. I go down to a lower level. It is something like a church (I seem to remember colored windows and a choir). I continue down to about the fourth level and it is a dusty cave, like a catacomb with old bones on the dusty floor. Despite all this, it is an interesting place, and not totally unpleasant. I pass through this place and am in the sunshine outdoors.
In a reassuring message from the collective unconscious regarding his break with dogma ("In truth I tell you, in very truth, the man who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in
some other way, is nothing but a thief and a robber." John 10:1), one memorable dream seemed to offer an affectionate acceptance of his individual journey towards wholeness. Of it, he wrote:
Important dreams can sometime be humorous. I dreamt that Christ, in his white robe, stood in the door of the sheepfold on the farm where I was a boy. I approached the sheepfold, but, instead of going in through the door, I climbed through a side window. Christ turned to watch me and laughed. I felt good about that.
Another dream saw him peeling back the bark of a gnarled oak to discover the grinning face of "Mercurius," the trickster, carved on the inner surface of the green wood. In another, he witnesses the creation of a new way of being.
A man is relaxed on the beach. He is a man of high rank. He starts to leave when he sees a large black funnel cloud. The tornado approaches an old, large square multi-story house and completely destroys it. Out of the debris a new, simpler structure is fashioned and occupied by women and children. There is no lapse of time between the destruction of the old house and the appearance of the new, very simple structure (like a fade-in and fade-out in the movies).
Analyst James Hall published one of Dads dreams. Its primary image is of a quartet of beings who proceed to weigh my fathers heart on the scales in judgment, as prefigured in Egyptian mythology. A solid, a translucent, and a transparent being are accompanied by the presence of a disembodied consciousness that in a quiet, strong voice renders the verdict that the heart "looks all right." The three figures along with their ghostly observer form a quaternity, the totality of the Self.
By the end of the 1970s, my fathers intellectual curiosity broadened to embrace the world. He came to know Chuang Tzu and Lao-Tzus Tao Te Ching and he particularly favored the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the The Book of Changes. I was there when he threw the yarrow stalks for the first time. His question was "In what way may I best utilize the wisdom of the I Ching?" The resulting hexagram was Ching, The Well, with its "inexhaustible dispensing of nourishment."
Active imagination sessions also furnished signposts on my fathers inner path. The following vision, wherein his lion reappears, describes a step on his road to individuation:
On a broad prairie of waving grass, I meet a wise old man riding a horse and accompanied by a lion and an eagle. He befriends me and takes me to where I find my lion and eagle. I am on horseback and they stay with me the eagle soaring overhead and the lion alongside.
In agreement with Goedels theorem that arithmetical truths are independent of human activity, and well acquainted with Von Franzs Number and Time, Dad explored quantum physics and the non-local universe it revealed. For recreation, he worked calculus problems, keeping a small spiral notebook in his front shirt pocket that he would produce at slow moments like someone else might a crossword puzzle. And though he might have denied it, he had an artistic side to his personality. In his workshop, he painted mandalas and carved smooth wood, producing an array of human and animal figures. His handcrafted pieces of furniture and wooden-beaded necklaces strung with crosses and lotuses are still treasured by family and friends.
In April 1979, Dad met the South African writer Sir Laurens van der Post at the C.G. Jung Educational Center. For years, my father had been coming to this oasis of sanity, art and culture in the midst of boomtown Houston that was the brainchild of the vision and generosity of its founder, Carolyn Grant Fay. Carolyn and my father were fast friends and Dad served on the Centers board of trustees for many years. Jung and the Story of Our Time was one of Dads favorite works on Jung and when he learned its author was coming to Texas to speak he made plans to attend. When they met, their connection was immediate and profound, and they corresponded frequently until my fathers death. After Dad died, the relationship between the families continued and, in 1991, Sir Laurens became godfather to my son, Frank IV, who was born under the sign of Leo as the pattern of the lion made its presence felt again.
In this time when his inner world was so brimming over, my father experienced significant health problems. For the last decade and a half of his life, he suffered from a recurrent pituitary tumor and heart disease. The last two years of his life he was nearly blind. He bore this with courage and used its suffering as grist for his individuation. Though sorely tested by this Nekyia, this descent into darkness, he would not curse God. Like Job, he said, "Though he slay me, yet I will trust Him." And his psychological tenacity was matched by his physical bravery. Operation after operation and some of these were life threatening and complex neurosurgeries found him the same and he became a legend amongst his friends due to his durability. In truth, he often likened himself to one of the tough old plow mules hed known in his youth. With his lion along side and with his eagle over his head, he endured.
When Dad was in San Francisco for medical treatment in 1981, my mother and he made a tour of the psychology departments at several Bay Area universities, including Stanford and Cal-Berkeley. An idea was stirring in him. Hed worked hard and had done well in his business, but he had no interest in the commonly accepted benchmarks of American success, such as owning a yacht or a ski lodge in Aspen. Preferring the simplicity of his daily uniform of khakis and boots to what society deemed fashionable, he was not materialistic, and to a degree to almost defy belief. There was a saying he liked: "Money is a poor master, but a good servant." And this is where his idea came in, an idea born of a question. To what service could he best put his money? Another question lent the answer. To what better service could he put his money than the service of the Self? But how best serve the Self? And thats when he knew. He would use his money to endow the worlds first professorship in Analytical Psychology. He would use his money to bring light to other seekers who were entering the forest at its darkest point, just as he did so long ago. He would use his money to serve the pattern of the lion.
His reconnaissance of the Californian universities provided useful information on the disposition of contemporary academic psychology, but there was no question for my father as to where this gift would be made. He would endow the money at his alma mater, Texas A&M University, the oldest public university in Texas. Formerly a small agricultural college rooted in the soil of the Brazos Valley, it had grown into the only Land, Sea and Space Grant University in the United States and one of the largest research institutions in the world. This professorship would put it on the cutting edge of the exploration of Inner Space, the universe of the living psyche. The campus would go from frontier to frontier, from its early days on the prairie of the Texas to the modern frontier of that last great wilderness, the dreaming self of Man. The circle would come full.
When the university administrators learned of his idea, they were understandably pleased about the prospective gift, but they had a suggestion. Why not use the money to create two professorships, one in Jungian psychology and another in a field of their choosing? I imagine that by splitting the baby they felt they could honor their donors rather unique wish with one half and then do something "really useful" with the other. Two for the price of one, as it were. My father refused. It was all or nothing. In his opinion, to divide the donation would dilute its power. It would weaken its ability to do what he envisioned, which was to bring Jung to academe on an equal footing. For the first time in history, Analytical Psychology would occupy a full and proper faculty position in academic psychology, by tradition the dominion of rat experimentation and classical conditioning, a dominion many of whose practitioners, if they knew anything about him at all, condemned Jung as a mystic at best and a charlatan at worst. Dad won his case. I cannot have imagined him doing otherwise.
Rumors began to fly. In the spring of 1985, my wife was taking a psychology course at A&M. One day her professor told the class about this mysterious cowboy who had tried to, in the professors words, "buy" the Psychology Department at Berkeley and was in the process of attempting to do the same at A&M. Enrolled under her maiden name, she was incognito. We had a good laugh when she carried that story home. And there is another story. This one is mine.
Shortly before Dad told me about the professorship, I had a dream in which I found myself walking in the public park across from my childhood home. An attractive young woman playing a flute and leading a procession of white ducks and geese approaches and then passes me. A black hen hurries to catch up to them. I go around the side of our house to find that our previously manicured back lawn has been transformed. The yards sod and shrubbery have all been dug up and piled into a volcano-like mound out of the top of which gushes a cataract of clear water. The feeling tone is warm and comforting and I stare in wonder at the spring rushing out of the mound until my attention is suddenly drawn to a scraping sound off to my right. I turn to see Dad, sweating and bent to his task, using a shovel to dig a hole in the hard concrete driveway in front of our garage. He smashes through the cement, turns the dark, rich soil below with his blade and then thrusts a green-leafed sapling into the earth. A visual pan across the drive reveals a series of similar holes and from each one a young tree rises. Between the yard and the drive, he had been hard at work. A few days after this dream, when he made his plan for the professorship known to the family, I felt I already knew. The haunting image from the collective unconscious with its underground spring and new life arising from sterility made sure of that.
Throughout 1985, a search committee with international reach looked for the right person to fill the new position. It was a critical decision. The training, expertise and personality of the candidate would go far in determining the professorships success. Of course, my father participated in the process and made his opinions known (I imagine he would have pitched his tent in the classical Jungian camp), but he exercised no veto and was wise enough to defer to the professionals when vetting credentials and backgrounds. Towards the end of the year, the committee reached a decision. I cannot imagine a better one. The person selected was Dr. David Rosen.
To frame it in a Taoist context, Rosen, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, was the right man at the right time at the right place thinking the right thoughts. What he has done in the first twenty years of his tenure with his groundbreaking research and agenda of hope and healing I can only call a dream come more than true. His graduates bring light wherever they go and his own writings and presence have created a series of deep professional relationships between Jungian psychology at A&M and the world, encompassing China, Japan, Europe, Central and South America, Australasia and beyond. Carolyn Grant Fays generous 1990 endowment of the Fay Lectures enriches this global connection.
Rosen made his debut at A&M in February of 1986 when he came to deliver an introductory lecture. It was there and then that he first met my father and they became friends on the spot. After the lecture, my father and Dr. Rosen drove to The Jung Center in Houston and over the course of that two-hour drive, as they talked, their camaraderie flourished and deepened. At the end of the ride, my father called David his brother, and I believe the feeling was mutual.
Just prior to Rosens arrival on campus, my father did the bravest thing I ever saw him do. The professorship had just been announced and some members of the psychology faculty were dead set against it. As mentioned, rumors about the position circulated and there was real concern, misunderstanding and, even, fear about what was coming to the department. To clear the air, and, I think, to let them have a look at the cause of all the trouble, my father offered to speak to the assembled faculty face to face, alone and unaided, without any administrators or departmental officers to smooth his path. His offer was accepted and a date was arranged. In his life, my father had gone to war, fought against long odds to establish a successful business and endured painful physical affliction. All these things hed faced courageously and borne stoically. This episode was different, however. This was a test of his intellectual powers. He had to walk into a room full of agitated, unreceptive minds and state his case. In a real way, it was a showdown. If the faculty rebelled against Analytical Psychology coming to campus, the whole plan would go wrong. The fate of the professorship hung in the balance.
I met with Dad prior to the event. Dressed as usual in rumpled khakis and boots, he wore his Stetson cowboy hat and a black patch over his blind right eye. The only thing he carried with him was a piece of paper with a few typed quotes from Jung, Goethe, Einstein and William James. These he would borrow and the rest of his statement would be in his own words. For the first time in my experience, he was visibly nervous. I wished him good luck and he disappeared behind the door. As expected, the initial reception was hostile, but, by the time my father emerged from that room an hour and a half later, hed made a whole new group of friends, friends who supported and encouraged him in his intention to create the revolutionary post. Friends who said they would be proud to welcome a new colleague in their midst. The professorship was off and running. The pattern of the lion began to leave its prints in the waking day.
Through the fall of 1987, my fathers health deteriorated. By then, he was almost completely blind and essentially homebound. In September, he did go up to College Station to deliver a talk to the recently established Jungian Society of the Brazos Valley. Slowly, with effort and in pain, he told them about what Jung meant to him and about his own vision of what it was to be a human being. It was a bravura performance that demanded his all. As I watched from the crowd, I saw his great light fading.
Confirmation of this fear came to me one night in February 1988. In a dream, my father and I stood on the rocky precipice of a crescent moon-shaped cove and looked out to sea. Suddenly, over the bay rose a black sun, the Sol Niger of the alchemists, the solar eclipse of the astronomers, a terrible ebony disk framed by a rim of shooting white light. Simultaneously, with heads in and tails out, a school of fish formed a mandala in the clear water below us. In South Texas, these fish are known as redfish. However, this is a misnomer. Their scales are actually a silvery gold and on their tail fin, in an uncanny mirroring of the Sol Niger, is a round black spot. As we gazed at the living mandala, my father slipped and fell into the water, nearly submerging. I clambered down the rocky slope and pulled him out and the dream was over. I awoke with a bad feeling. That is when I knew. He died from cardiovascular failure on March 4, 1988.
Today, however, I view this anniversary as the last page of an important chapter in the book of my fathers life, rather than the end of his story. Jung himself said the psyche seems to regard death as more of a transition than a conclusion. Evidence for this observation arrived the week before my father died. In a final dream, he described seeing white cranes flying on the horizon. In Taoist mythology, these birds symbolize immortality.
The coming of the dream lion and the flight of the cranes I see as the bookends on my fathers inner journey. On either side lies mystery. Wittgenstein said, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." So, instead of commenting on the nature of this mystery, like Job, I find it wiser to clap my hand over my mouth. I can say this, however. Three years after his death, my father appeared in plain view before a person whom I trust unreservedly. Quite frankly, I do not pretend to know what this sighting implies. Yet, it happened. It is a true story, a true "just so" story, if you will, and from it I take solace. Jung observed that the psyche often behaves trans-temporally and trans-spatially. I am content to leave it at that and let the rest remain unsaid, but felt. Always felt.
In every dimension, the story of the creation of the worlds first professorship in Analytical Psychology is the story of a dream come true. Emerging from the mystery that gave it birth, the dream arrived in the guise of an African lion that came in the night to a Texas farm and claimed a boy as his own. Marked with the seal of this awesome encounter, the boy later set out on a quest to discover the wellspring of Meaning and, like a Grail knight, he entered the forest at its darkest point. Grown to be a man, he found himself lost in those dark and tangled woods until a chance meeting provided him with a wise companion who lent him a map to show him the way. And so he went on and on, until one day his journey took him over the horizon and he disappeared from view. And although he was out of sight, when he came to the end of his search, somehow I know his dream lion was there to greet him. And if you look back at the footsteps he left on his path, and squint your eyes just right, you see the prints not of a man but the spoor of a lion, pressed deep and firm into the earth, and this spoor weaves a pattern, a pattern that is its own map to that far horizon over which Meaning is born, and to that place where all dreams are real and true. FINIS
Frank N. McMillan III
Post Office Box 6576
Corpus Christi, Texas 78466
United States of America