When we talk about diversity in our counseling practice, I think it’s not just working with diverse culture or diverse population but it’s also having an understanding of the cultural diversity of the materials we choose to use. Whether it’s a piece of fabric, a story or even an activity, each has its own unique characteristic; its unique symbolism and its unique healing purpose. Diversity is also found in some of the cultural rituals that we celebrate. I find that spring is one of the times when there are many such rituals take place. For me, spring is one of the strangest season and time of the year. While it is a time for birthdays, celebrating cultural New Year, anticipation of what am I going to plan in my vegetable patch, it is also a time to mark anniversaries of heartbreaks. It is during this time that I also get to go back to reading one of my favorite books by Clarissa Pinkola Este: “Women Who Run with the Wolves”. In one of her chapters, she mentions a grief exercise called “Descansos”, which is basically markers of the changes, the turning points, the deaths (literal and figurative) in one’s life. She says, “Descansos are symbols that mark a death. Right there, right on that spot, someone’s journey in life halted unexpectedly. There has been a car accident, or someone was walking along the road and died of heat exhaustion, or a fight took place there. Something happened there that altered that person’s life and the lives of other persons forever.”
I have been creating my own Descansos at various life transition events as they can also be seen, metaphorically, as crossroads where choices need to be made.
My background is not from Latin America where Descanos are the roadside shrines that mark the memory where an accident claimed a life. I can, however, relate to the archetypical images and the symbols and what Jung shares as a part of the collective unconscious. For me working with images from diverse cultures helps me to feel connected not only to the materials but also to the psyche of the experiencing the knowledge of the client and the community.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA