Tributes to Graham Saayman
10 August 1939 – 20 August 2022
Graham Saayman passed away in Noordhoek on the morning of 20 August, 2022, ten days short of his 83rd birthday. A long-standing friend and colleague, Graham was a leading force in the establishment of the Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian studies in 1985 – the forerunner organization of SAAJA. At that time, he was Head of the Department of Psychology at UCT. He would later become an honorary member of SAAJA and IAAP. Earning his Ph.D. at the University of London (1967), he completed a post-doctoral internship at McMaster University in Canada, specializing in family therapy. His other interests included a period of full-time studies on baboons and later, based at the Museum and Oceanarium in Port Elizabeth, the socio-ecology of the endangered Humpback dolphins. These early naturalistic studies, combined with his interest in family therapy, dreams and matters of the spirit are described in his book Hunting with the Heart: A Vision Quest to Spiritual Emergence (2007).
In 1989 he and his wife Vanessa left South Africa to live and work in Canada. Graham’s heart, however, was in this country and on retiring from his work, he returned to live in Kommetjie and later, Noordhoek. A deeply thoughtful man, I will remember him for his humour, for his broad intellect and not least, his profound respect for the spiritual connection between human beings and the non-human ‘others’ in our lives.
Our condolences to Graham’s wife, Vanessa, to his children, Shona, Keith, Melissa and grandchildren.
It feels a privilege for me to have this opportunity to pay my Tribute to Graham a man who in one sense changed the course of my life and who later became a close friend. I had the opportunity to get to know the breadth of his mind, his deep reach into different aspects of Analytical Psychology and Jung’s understanding of psyche. I also feel gratitude to speak in this context to the earliest history of SAAJA, an alma mater to so many of us over the past 30 or more years. Institutional memory has its significance and history plays its part in shaping us whether consciously or unconsciously. So this is a moment in time when we can both pay tribute to Graham as one of our founder members at the same time as reflecting on our history encompassing both its pioneer establishment in its very positive sense as well as acknowledging the shadow aspect that always forms part of the whole.
For those of you to whom Graham Saayman is unfamiliar I shall just give a brief Professional biography. Graham was formerly Professor of Psychology at the University of Cape Town in the mid-to late 1980’s. Prior to this appointment he had studied at McMaster University, Canada and the University of London. He published articles on visual perception in human infants, the social ethology of non-human primates and cetacean, the relationship between dreams and meditation and the interface between Analytical Psychology and the systems approach to family therapy. Together with Renos Papadopoulos, Graham co-edited the book Jung in Modern Perspective in 1984.He we chairman of the Cape of Good Hope Centre for Jungian Studies until moving in 1989 to work as a psychologist and family therapist at Sudbury Algoma Hospital in Ontario, Canada.
In 1990 Graham edited and published Modern South Africa in Search of a Soul: Jungian Perspectives on the Wilderness Within. This book was conceived in 1985 and written in the fire of the escalating social unrest that seized South Africa as wave after wave of protest and reprisal swept the country. Contributors among others were Roger Brook, Vera Buhrmann, Gloria Gearing, Phillip Faber, Ian Player, Qumbu Magqubu Ntombela, Lee Roloff, Robert Romanysyn, Graham himself and Lourens Van der Post. In the context of that time in South Africa Graham wrote the following in his Preface: (p. xxii)
“Can patriarchal structures in South Africa indeed accept the option suggested by Philip Faber’s chapter in this book, and embrace “…that which is most feared, namely integration – that a genuinely equal relationship with Black South Africans with its concomitant destruction of Afrikaner-White identity, is a necessary, albeit painful part of the process of initiation into a more all-embracing human identity which functions in terms of relatedness as opposed to separateness and isolation?” A willingness to undergo this sacrifice would be the greatest gift which a courageous and heroic people could give to humanity.” (p.61)
Graham concludes his Preface as he alludes in one of his chapters in the book to the Skull Sculptures of Neels Coetzee (a leading South African sculptor) with the following:
“Which view of Neels Coetzee’s Skull Sculptures will confront South Africa as events in this critical decade unfold? The sightless grimace of the patriarchal death’s head – or the image of the feminine form of relatedness?” (1990 Sudbury)
Well we are two decades ahead now and much has happened to end the horrors of Apartheid and its separatist ideology, but I suggest this moment is also an invitation for SAAJA to reflect on this major thrust of our ancestors’ vision in a then polarized South Africa which was to embed the Jung Centre for Good Hope Studies in the principles of integration and the values of a more Feminine principle Eros as contrasted with the current more Masculine and patriarchal culture of Logos and power. Where may we have failed and where have we still to set our horizons, re-kindle the flame and re-vision our values and action in the light of the inspiration of our ancestors some of whom we commemorate tonight.
I now want to talk about Graham more personally as we pay tribute to him tonight. I met Graham when I was at UCT from 1987 to 1990 having returned after my initial BA Degree and Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in the early 1960’s. Graham had been Head of the Psychology Faculty and was on Sabbatical in 1987 the year I was completing my Honors Degree in 1987. I had come to Jung through my spiritual and Theology studies and we had some input from Professor Saayman and Phillip Faber in my under-graduate Psychology Course in Depth Psychology. I wrote my Honors Thesis on The Role of Type, Attitude, and Contrasexual Archetype in Marriage as a way then of deepening my understanding of Analytical Psychology. Phillip Faber, a senior lecturer in the Psychology Department was my supervisor. He was very steeped in Jung and decided at some point that Graham should co-supervise my Thesis to do it justice as this was more Graham’s field than his. This occasioned our first meeting when I met with Graham although he was on Sabbatical. Graham suggested I also meet with his wife Vanessa also at UCT at the time and doing her Social Work Honors on a similar topic. This I did. (It is lovely to have you here with us tonight Vanessa.)
I then applied for the Clinical Masters Programme at UCT in 1988 and Graham was on my Selection Panel. I did not get in. It is here that I can attest to my earlier statement that Graham in one sense altered the Course of my life because in the corridor at the Child Guidance Clinic on that devastating day I passed this Professor of Psychology who turned to me and said “Don’t give up – you must try again next year’”. I don’t think I would have mustered the courage to do that had it not been for Graham’s encouraging words. So I did apply the following year and did get accepted.
I went on to complete my Clinical Masters in 1989-1990 and my thesis topic (Celibacy and Individuation: A Jungian perspective) was supervised by Philip Faber who by this time was one of the first group of Trainee candidates. During this time Graham, because he was aware of my interest in Jung, invited me to join the Committee set up to vision a Jung Centre in Cape Town. By this time, I think meetings had been held, as Ian attested, in KZN with Ian Player, Graham, Ian McCullum and Van der Post. Graham and Vanessa at this point were working assiduously with Vera Buhrmann towards shaping and establishing a Centre for Jungian Studies. Meetings were held in their Ixia Road home in Vredehoek and I have vivid memories of the many meetings at which discussion was passionate and at times heated when differing views had to be ironed out. The Committee comprised Vera Buhrmann, Graham and Vanessa Saayman, Glenda Raad, Joan Anderson, myself, Lourens van der Post and Ronald Cohen. We worked well as a Committee and all of us felt very supportive of Vera’s dream to start a Centre.
Then the winds of change blew as Graham left UCT in 1989. He decided he did not want to be in Academia any longer and took a post in 1989 as Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist at Sudbury Algoma Hospital, a Regional Children’s Psychiatric Centre in Sudbury Ontario, Canada. Graham wanted to work clinically in the field of Family Therapy and the opportunity arose so he took it. Leaving South Africa was very hard for him as I remember at this time. This was a significant loss for the Cape of Good Hope Centre as Graham had been pivotal in getting it off the ground. What he may have been able to contribute academically as teacher in our Training Institute with his experience and knowledge of Analytical Psychology had no future and a representation of Jungian Psychology at UCT was subsequently lost very sadly. It was a very sad farewell and I so remember sitting with you Vanessa in Julian David’s previous abode as you mourned the loss of South Africa as you prepared to join Graham in Canada.
The Centre started after Graham had left SA and when a home, funds for which were provided by an anonymous donor, was found and the building opened by Lourens van der Post on 29 October 1991. It was a great moment for us all and I recall the emotion I felt when standing in the garden of 2 Linray Road (as we are now) watching Lourens plant the Ginko Tree. We by this time had visiting Analysts Julian David and Patrick Tummon resident here to be the first Training analysts for the first group of candidates. Gerwyn Davies was also back in SA to also be a Training analyst and Supervisor.
As fate would have it The Saaymans’ leaving South Africa unexpectedly initiated another stage of deepening our friendship as our eldest daughter had emigrated to Canada in 1995 and my husband and I travelled to see her from time to time. We would always connect with Graham and Vanessa who finally ended up living in Victoria the same city as our daughter. This was a very significant connection over time for us both as South Africa always had a special place in their hearts. I also in the meantime had decided to do the Training as a Jungian Analyst and this enabled Graham to stay connected to the Centre via my involvement, a Training Institute that he had put much into establishing.
Graham after his retirement from the Hospital in Sudbury wanted to return to South Africa, the place where his heart was and so from 2015 began trips back and forth for several years until Graham felt he needed to spend his last years here. And so our friendship continued in Cape Town with a further chance to deepen. We shared many walks at Cape Point, shared dreams, laughed a lot, and had very rich conversations on many Jungian topics. His experiences with the White Lions in the Timbavati were often shared and here I witnessed his deep love of these animals and his understanding of the interconnectedness of all realms and sentient beings. Graham was writing another book over his last years and would send me chapters for us to discuss. I also recall Graham spending a weekend at my home when he brought all his documents and letters pertaining to the early beginnings of the Centre and we sifter through them and prepared to hand them over to the SAAJA archives which we did a few years ago.
Now finally I would like now to say a little about Graham the man on a more personal note. Graham was a man of depth and sensitivity. He had a fine mind and as our friendship grew I got to know the side of him that had a strong connection to the other realm. The veil between the visible and invisible worlds was thin in Graham’s psyche. We shared a deep interest in the spiritual realm and the ability Graham had to articulate psychic experience often inspired me. He would share very moving experiences with me of his encounters with the numinous, with his dreams and it was not unusual for him to break down in tears at significant points in the telling. I walked alongside him as he wrote and published in 2007 his book “Hunting with the Heart: A Vision Quest to Spiritual Emergence”, a title that so expresses what Graham was about. He manifested the masculine with heart. He was a man of deep feeling and this I always so appreciated in him. This was also a side of him that, when not adequately differentiated, housed a shadow aspect that tripped him up at times. In reflecting on his life I think it is somewhere true to say that Graham grappled with the polarities with which many of us wrestle – spirituality and instinctuality. The latter was evidenced when applying his scientific mind to his interest in and research into ecology with his study of baboons and dolphins. For Graham spirituality and instinctuality were not just concepts on which to ponder in theoretical or academic circles – he could do that too. His life attests to the courage to live into these opposites with the messiness too that accompanies such a journey. As Lee Roloff, (picture left) a great friend of Graham’s says in his comment on “Hunting with the Heart” “Graham Saayman writes uncompromisingly of his inner journeys and the confrontation with unconscious forces that take him to the very verge of life.”
Graham knew his vulnerability and one of the treasures of our friendship is captured in the following words of Marion Woodman when talking about her friendship with Elinor Dickson:
“It is at the place of wounding that we find ourselves connected to each other in love.” “Shared vulnerability is the foundation stone of an enduring relationship.” (Dickson 2019 Dancing at the Still Point p. 57) Chiron Publications, Ashville.) These words speak truly to my friendship with Graham.
We spoke often about death and as I stood over his body hours after his death on the 20th August this year I knew that he would be at home – at hom
e in the mystery of the other realm. So while mourning the loss of a very dear friend I also feel at peace with his passing. In the last years of his ailing he never complained but I can’t end this tribute without also acknowledging that while the latter is true heaven help you if on a bad day you attempted to coax him to do anything that he didn’t want to do. You would get the raw end without a doubt!
Rest well my friend. You have joined our ancestors and thank you for your contribution to the beginnings of SAAJA a home to many of us here tonight and for your contribution to Analytical Psychology in South Africa.
Graham Saayman was a mentor and a friend and deeply impacted on my life: from inception of the Dream Appreciation groups in Cape Town in 2013 when we first met; to our ‘waking dream’ retreat visits to the white lions in the Timbavati region. His expert guidance, enthusiasm, and inspiration during our deep dream work over many years, incorporating a Jungian approach and shamanic perspectives, has deepened my relationship with myself and Nature – for which Graham had profound respect as reflected in his love for the white lions.
Graham’s major work and focus during the last decade of his life was Dream work. After Graham returned to live in Cape Town where he spent the last ten years of his life, he set about providing the opportunity in several forums, for co-professionals to have the enhancing experience of dream appreciation through the analysis of one’s own dreams within a group context, using a step-by-step dream group method derived from the psychology of C. G. Jung. The method was developed by Graham in the 1970s, and subsequently formalized into a joint publication with two of his colleagues in 1988, entitled: A Systematized Method for Dream Analysis in a Group Setting (Shuttleworth-Jordan, AB, Saayman, GS and Faber, PA). Over the years, many people have had the benefit of exposure to this method developed and promoted by Graham, where the in-depth investigation of a participant’s dream forms the entire focus of group input. The process amplifies the personal meanings of the dreams with the addition of the collective meanings of dreams where indicated. It is hoped that Graham’s method will continue to be used in group settings, and this important contribution of his remembered.
Graham developed a special relationship with one of the white lions of Tsau in the Timbivati where he visited frequently, both as a facilitator of ‘waking dream’ appreciation retreats as well as a dreaming specialist and teacher to participants of the lionhearted leadership academy establisjed by Linda Tucker, founder and CEO of the Global White Lion Protection Trust.
To have felt seen and recognized by a magnificent white lion was a deeply validating experience for Graham. As Ian Player would say, it always feels like the wild animal is looking directly at you, but Matsieng always came and investigated whenever Graham was in the vehicle. As a matter of fact, most people would not even get a glance from Matsieng, but often when Graham visited, Matsieng would not only curiously look in the direction of the vehicle but get up and walk closer, sometimes right up to the vehicle, giving specifically Graham a piercing look. Graham felt singled out by this male lion, one of two brothers that rule the small pride at Tsau, the home of the Global White Lion Protection Trust. He felt a brotherly bond with Matsieng, while recognising that all animals are our relatives.To Graham Matsieng represented a new vision of Earth and humanity. While Matsieng’s brother, Zukura did what lions do – hog the prey killed by the lionesses, lying there bloated, not allowing her to eat, Matsieng did not demonstrate such behaviour. There was a grace and sovereignty to Matsieng’s every move, truly embodying the energy of the King archetype.