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The Creative Way

The creative space, the space between heaven and earth visited by shaman and artist alike since the dawn of the human race, has always been a sacred space, a sanctuary, and the cradle of all creativity.  No serious artwork can be produced without engagement with the sacred side of being, or without a personal struggle with one’s own demons. Some measure of integrity towards one’s own depths are demanded, for any honest creative endeavor is born, manifests, through the pain and suffering of the soul, however simple or unperfect the expression may be, is alive and commands our respect.

To create is to give shape to unconscious contents, to bring into being that which is hidden. An unfolding process, it may provide one with a perspective on aspects of the manifesting unfolding lifeforce. Like a tree it grows from below, from the unconscious towards consciousness. Deeper psychic processes often appear in creative inner work and may be witnessed, made conscious. The archetype, the ‘god,’ wants to enter our real lived lives and to exist in time and space.    

Through this living creative process, the reality of the deeper life may be consciously experienced and conversed with. The experience of ‘something’ communicating with one is a profound testimony to the reality of psychic life. A form of active imagination, this approach allows one to contain overwhelming unconscious content consciously in a moment of crisis.  

One’s own unique symbol vocabulary, originating from ‘the stories of our lives,’ may be allowed to unfold. Images arising from these foundational archetypal patterns have the ability to contain one profoundly, making senseless suffering meaningful, endurable.

From Rilke: “I live my life in growing orbits which move out over the things of the world. Perhaps I can never achieve the last, but that will be my attempt. I am circling around God, around the ancient tower, and I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.” (1)

Reference:

1. M. Beazly in Reflections on Madison County, Ex Press Bridges Publishing Inc, GB, 1994, quoting from Selected poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, edited and translated by Robert Bly.

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A Meaningful Worldview

A worldview that originates from our archetypal roots is meaningful, containing. Jung often encouraged his patients to give thought to developing a worldview and many eventually returned to childhood faith. However, the modern individual may no longer feel so contained by the religious systems of earlier times.

Image credit: Scarab beetle and scarab god Khepri as symbol of rebirth, ancientpages.com

The religious attitude, a basic psychic attitude, may instinctively manifest as traditional religious practice, an ‘-ism’ of some kind, a living conscious relationship to the divine within, the Self, or a mixture of it all. Making sense of human suffering, and mortality, is a basic containing religious function. Religion, as a mythological pattern with an archetypal foundation, centering around and contained by the Self, grows from the instinctual depths of the unconscious. In the relationship between ego and the Self, the Other is experienced as numinous, sacred, godlike, and this mystery has been projected outside and worshipped since time immemorial.

Death followed by rebirth is one of the oldest mythological patterns, dating back thousands of years; in the moon mysteries, “the moon, after the full, wanders across the heavens in search of its vanishing light until the darkness seizes it completely, and it is gone,” to reappear again after three days, reborn (1). In ancient Egyptian mythology the scarab beetle was a symbol of rebirth carrying great weight.

In the final months of his life Jung described the beneficial effects of a meaningful mythological worldview: “The need for mythic statements is satisfied when we frame a view of the world which adequately explains the meaning of human existence in the cosmos, a view which springs from our psychic wholeness, from the co-operation between conscious and unconscious. Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.” (2)

He ends by saying about meaning and meaninglessness that both are true, but if meaninglessness outweighs meaning, the meaningfulness of life will vanish, and with it hope and faith in Life, for “Life is – or has – meaning and meaninglessness.” In the words of Lao-tzu: “All are clear, I alone am clouded.” (3)

References:

  1. Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, 1991. The Myth Of The Goddess, Evolution Of An Image, Penguin Group, GB, p. 385
  2. CG Jung, 1961. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Random House Inc, New York, p. 340
  3. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 358, 359
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Learning from the Other

Inherent in the confrontation with Otherness is a possibility to learn from the Other, but when coming face to face with a stranger, one may unexpectedly feel overwhelmed by the otherness of the Other and act accordingly.

Image credit: The Smolensk Newspaper, by Chagall, WikiArt.org

From a Jungian point of view one’s experience in encountering another is largely determined by the projected nature of the individual’s worldview, of how one perceive one’s existence in this world to be meaningful and containing; this is in turn largely determined by the nature of one’s relationship to the Self. When encountering a stranger one may experience one’s worldview to be incomplete, not containing, a destabilization of one’s perception of oneself in one’s world.

Levinas, a Jewish French-Lithuanian philosopher (1905 – 95), saw “the meaning of existence in terms of the ethical transcendence of the Other.”(1) For Levinas, the Other is infinitely foreign and one’s relationship and responsibility to him/her is that of infinity; it is not equal or comparable. (2) An ensuing feeling of responsibility is not a rational choice but happens unconsciously; it is as if one gives oneself as ‘hostage’ to the Other, in a form of ethical surrender, to suffer from his/her suffering. (3)

If “one brings more than one can bear” (4) into the encounter, the other may be traumatized by projective identification, the ‘ejecting’ of the uncomfortable feelings, an attempt to protect oneself. Envy, guilt and shame may be unconsciously experienced by both parties, and depending on the basic personality structure, one’s ‘wiring,’ one may respond by either trying to restore the relationship to the Self in the outer relationship, seeking the other, or by withdrawing, even fighting the other.

Jung reminds us that the only way to act responsibly and respectfully towards the stranger other is to withdraw our projections, a matter of integrity. When I think I know, the other only becomes an aspect of “the narrative presence of my worldview and narrative,”(5) but a more conscious approach to the other, with humility and awareness of one’s ignorance, may enable one to listen attentively to “the narrative presence of the other,” to learn from the other. (6)

References:

  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/levinas/#ConcRema
  2. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Emmanuel-Levinas
  3. Bart Noorteboom, 1995. Levinas: Philosophy of the Other, Noorteboom quoting Levinas, p. 115, on SpringerLink.com
  4. Sharon Todd, 2003. Learning from the Other, Levinas, Psychoanalysis and Ethical Possibilities, State University of New York Press, p. 15
  5. Sharon Todd, p. 15
  6. Sharon Todd, p. 15
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Seeking the Other

Seeking as archetypal pattern may manifest as any combination of youthful playful- and light-heartedness, restless wandering seeking superficial pleasure, and the footsore wanderer striving towards individuation. It suggests a feeling of want and the need to seek fulfillment, even in the face of plenty.

Jung and Hopi elder Antonio Mirabal,
also known as Mountain Lake,
from Beezone.com.

Mountain Lake, the Pueblo Indian chief, once told Jung: “[The whites] are always seeking something. What are they seeking? They are always uneasy and restless. We do not understand them… They say they think with their heads… We think here…” and he indicated his heart. (1)

Greek goddess and earth mother Demeter was enraged after the abduction of her daughter by the lord of the underworld; roaming the earth, she brought drought, famine, and suffering to all. (2) This archetypal “abduction” affects us all in some way. Driven by pain, anger, a feeling of loss of the relationship to one’s own depths, our buried inner treasure, we may restlessly seek it as did Demeter, neglecting our natural growth and development.

In a lesser known myth about Eros it is told how Need once came upon the garden of the gods during their merrymaking and found Resource, son of Craft, asleep after having had too much of the heavenly nectar. She laid down beside him and in time Eros was born. “As the son of Resource and Need, it has been [the fate of Eros] to be always needy, nor is he delicate and lovely as most of us believe, but harsh and arid, barefoot and homeless, sleeping on the naked earth, in doorways, on the very streets… But he brings his father’s resourcefulness to his designs upon the beautiful and the good, for he is … a mighty hunter, and a master of device and artifice – at once desirous and full of wisdom, a lifelong seeker after truth, an adept in sorcery, enchantment and seduction.” (3)

Our needs drive us ever on, seeking, seeking. It seduces and enchants us, yet some measure of inner truth and wisdom may guard our choices; thus, we call upon our heart’s intention, and inspired, with clear vision, we take true aim and let the arrow fly. (4)

Reference:

  1. Carljungdepthpsychologysite.blog: Jung speaks with Mountain Lake
  2. Robert Graves, The Greek myths: 1, Penguin Books 1955, p 89 – 92
  3. R. Ramsden, The Dark Crystal: Reflections, SAAJA Film Evenings, 2015
  4. Mimi Kuo-Deemer, Qi Gong Practice of the Eight Brocades (YouTube)
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Passion

Photo credit: Romeo and Juliet, painting by Ford Madox Brown, 1870, Wikipedia

The lover as archetypal pattern represents how we live our passions; it gives preference to relating as the means to resolve difficulties, whether in outer relationships or inner. It may manifest in a relationship to another person, possessions, an interest, a believe system. There may be one or many; it may consistently open up a path or impulsively flame up and die down. Ultimately the lover is concerned with following one’s own bliss and trusting in one’s own destiny, which are initially projected outward.

Jung referred to Venus as the fiery center within us from which creative or destructive impulses may come. (1) As evening star, it is our loadstar, creating our lives, unfolding a path under our feet, but if we blindly act out misplaced passions, it becomes self-destructive.

Aphrodite, Greek counterpart of Venus, was married to Hephaestus the smith, but had an affair with Aries, god of war. Her spouse set a trap for her and her lover, entangling them in a net and humiliating them in front of the whole pantheon.

This pattern may bring out our manipulative seductive traits and entangle us in Shakespearean high drama and ‘bloody feuds’, stretching over decades, generations. (2) Its dark side is envy, seeking to possess, not relate. Hephaestus as the smith represents alchemy and the serious undertaking of the inner journey. If the relationship to the inner spouse is consciously restored and functions in a healthier way, entanglements can be resolved and rage, Aries as god of war, may assist us as assertiveness. We may be able to follow our loadstar and find fulfillment.

Eventually the relationship to the inner other, the stranger, must be restored. Poet Derek Walcott says it so beautifully: “The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart …” (3) and welcome your own capacity for spiritual passion, the Inner Stranger, the Self.

References:

  1. CG Jung (1959). Aion, par 212.
  2. Nancy J. Dougherty and Jacqueline J. West (2007.) The Matrix and Meaning of Character Structure, p. 84 – 140.
  3. Allpoetry.com/love-after-love
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Humanizing the Archetype


 

Since ancient times humanity made stone images of their gods and goddesses, for they experienced the archetype as the deity itself. The statue god was experienced as a living stone, an unconscious projection of the Philosopher’s Stone as symbol of the Self. Over millennia the single simple statue image, like the archetype of the Self, differentiated into vast pantheons but each statue image retained something of the original mystery, combining our primal roots with the ultimate ideal human.

When praying in earnest to the god/ess it was thought to answer by way of nodding. The word ‘numenous’ comes from ‘numen’ and means in Latin, ‘a nod, the nodding of the god when it is questioned.’

Interaction with the archetype may have a more positive or negative outcome: in Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni kills Don Pedro, father of one of his many lovers; later he invites the statue of Don Pedro to dinner and it nods acceptance. But Don Giovanni is unrepenting, insincere, and the statue pulls him into hell. (1)

In contrast, in Ovid’s Pygmalion is told of Pygmalion’s resolve to remain celibate, resisting his natural needs out of fear of women. He became obsessed with his needs, prompting him to make a statue: the archetype burst forth through his natural creative ability, to give shape to herself. It enchanted him, he fell in love with it and thus was influenced to overcome his fear. Lovesick and obsessed but humbled he begged Venus for a wife resembling his statue, and was answered: the statue became alive, that is, the archetypal pattern of relating became manifest in his real lived life. Pygmalion became husband and father; his personality matured into adulthood. (2)

Edinger concludes that by “pouring loving attention into the psyche, it brings the archetypal soul to life,” (1) it humanizes the archetype.

Photo Credit: www.maxpixel.net/Monument-Stone-Art-Fontana

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The Wounded Healer

Jung pointed out “the mythological truth that the wounded wounder is the agent of healing, and the sufferer takes away suffering.” (1) Chiron represents ‘the one who is wounded,’ the one who wounds self and others, ‘the wounder’, and ‘the one who suffers’ because of the wounding. (2)

Asclepios is often called the Father of Medicine. Some say that he was rescued from his mother’s funeral pyre and raised by the centaur Chiron, who taught him the art of healing. (3) The myth refers psychologically to the capacity “to be at home in the darkness of suffering and there to find germs of light and recovery with which, as though by enchantment, to bring forth Asclepios, the sunlike healer” (4)   

Looking back upon wounding encounters, we might see that it brought us inner growth and a deepening of compassion. The birth of healing power from the ‘original wound’ that we must address in the therapeutic relationship, belongs to the archetype of the wounded healer. An archetypal image can manifest in human psychology consciously or unconsciously, or often, as a mixture of the two, entangled with our wound and presenting us with a problematic situation which we must address consciously, both as therapist and as patient. The therapist as the healer has his/her own wound which may be drawn in if it provides ‘hooks’ for the patient’s projections. By each working separately on the problem, the archetype is constelated within the therapeutic space, bringing movement along the path. (5)

The wound holds a key: it plays an important role in the process of individuation as that which is the source of one’s inner suffering as well as the bringer of healing and transformation, not only to oneself, but also to others, a gift in service of Life.

Von Franz says: “In seeking for the meaning of your suffering, you seek for the meaning of your life. You are seeking for the greater pattern of your own life, which indicate why the wounded healer is the archetype of the Self – one of its most widespread features – and at the bottom of all healing procedures.” (6)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Chiron

References:

  1. CG Jung, Four Archetypes p. 136
  2. M Reinhart, Chiron and the Healing Journey p. 81.
  3. ARAS Concordance (wounded healer/NIGREDO): E. Edinger, quoting Kerenyi, Anatomy of the Psyche par 0.
  4. ARAS Concordance (wounded healer/SHRINES-AND-ORACLES-OF ANCIENT-GREECE): E. Edinger, Eternal Drama par 0.
  5. ARAS Concordance (wounded healer/TRANSFERENCE-COUNTERTRANSFERENCE): E. Edinger, Mysterium Lectures p. 317
  6. ML von Franz, Puer Aeturnus p. 114
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An Inner Critic

The four weary travelers came through great danger to the king of the Mark. He looked weary, was bent over, almost dwarfed, having sat “too long in shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings.” They came to warn and assist him but were accused of bringing bad news. Wormtongue, his advisor, praised his self-defeating viewpoint, reminded him that his son was slain, that everything was hopeless, that the courageous hero who undertook the quest against the dark was not to be trusted. It was better to give up, await certain death. (1)

This elusive figure is whispering: “Do not try, you know you can’t, why bother; everything is hopeless.” This is negative self-talk, “constant self-criticism, shaming and guilt. The task is to pay attention to the inner speaking – what we are saying to ourselves all the time.” (2)

Photo credit: https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki  

Wormtongue, as the personal shadow, was sent to the king by the evil Saruman, the Trickster in his negative aspect. The figure of Wormtongue fits in with the passive-aggressive character structural pattern (not personality disorder or rebellious teenager) as described by Dougherty and West. This pattern or trait, perhaps as unconscious Sensation, is associated with identification with the stranger archetype, the Trickster or the Self, as opposed to the mother as the primary caregiver. This creates a false sense of independence, while the child is still fully dependent on the parent.

The hallmark of the pattern is negativism, and “of being done to”. Denial is the “bedrock” defense of this pattern. It is described as provocative and self-defeating, while obstructing and playing with reality, retreating from responsibility. (3)

The four types are patterns and aspects of the Self, our archetypal foundation, and give rise to the personal shadow. To engage consciously with the negative self-talk, and the archetypal energy behind it, is the beginning of active imagination. In a letter to PW Martin, Jung explained that there is no single technique of dealing with the shadow, but ultimately rather of negotiation and of consciously suffering it through, a crucial aspect of the integration of the opposites. (4)

References:

  1. JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, 1966, p. 533 – 537
  2. L. Sikes and MD Molton, Four Eternal Women, Toni Wolff revisited, 2011, p. 67 – 8
  3. NJ Dougherty and JJ West, The Matrix and Meaning of Character Structure, 2007
  4. Jung’s Letters, PW Martin, 8-20-1937
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About the Shadow

Jung said: “The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is essential for any kind of self-knowledge.” The contents of the shadow have an ‘emotional’ nature and a possessive quality. With insight and goodwill it can be assimilated to some extent. However, some shadow features offer considerable resistance, and are bound up with projections: the cause of the problem lies no doubt in the other person.(1)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons,
Monk Talking to an Old Woman by Goya.

Crime writer Agatha Christie (1890 – 1976) is said to be the best-selling fiction writer of all time. (2) In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, she depicted a hated old man, murdered in his own mansion, surrounded by his family. He could be described as a cut-throat, and his murderer cut his throat. (3) The complex centred around hatred, shadow content during Christmas family time, consciously masked as love. In the final resolution, detective Hercule Poirot as Christie’s animus, unmasked the murderer, but pointed out that every member of the family could have committed this most hideous crime.

The projection-making factor is the animus in woman, the anima in man. To the extent that the shadow is not made conscious, it falls on the animus/a which has a much deeper archetypal foundation.(1) ‘To shoot’ someone is to project. It is ‘killing’, for the other person is not seen or heard, not allowed to be; s/he is ‘annihilated’.

In Curtain, Poirot’s last case, he returns to the scene of his first case, himself old and frail. A sense of impending doom manifests as murder, then suicide. Poirot dies shortly afterwards in moral agony, of a heart attack. In a last letter to a friend, he confessed that he had assassinated the ‘suicide case’, who had manipulated several victims into committing murder; he identified with archetypal power.

To be confronted by archetypal shadow is most difficult. (1) Some form of active imagination, or creative work, may allow one to experience one’s own archetypal depths, and to come to terms with those parts of our personalities that we would not allow anybody else to show us. (4)

References:

  1. Aion, par 14 – 16
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, novel by Agatha Christie
  4. CW 14 par 706
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Black Madonna, Forgotten

More than 500 shrines of the Black Madonna appeared world-wide, but mostly in central Europe, between the 11th and 15th centuries. Scholars suggest that she represents ancient goddesses, like Artemis, Diana, Cybele, Isis and others. (1)

Photo credit: Black Madonna of Einsiedeln, Switzerland,
www.caringforthesoul.org

Judy Zappacosta, Jungian analyst from California, researched her modern presence in Europe, she said: “I was very moved by the essence of sitting before a feminine dark figure that had such a deep interiority to her that she just pulls you in, into darkness, into silence, and actually into mystery…

“There’s an ownership that is taken up by the local people, that they are the keepers of, they say, “the Lady,” [who] is part of their lives in a very everyday way… they change her clothing; they have festivals, dances, lots of relationship to fertility, and motherhood, and things that bring them close to the people that are beyond the church’s style of owning a particular icon. The Black Madonna seems to have slipped through ownership by the church… she lives within chapels all through the places that you usually find her… way upon rural wild wilderness places, less-travelled regions… [where she] has always been discovered…”(2)

The Black Madonna can be seen as a personification of the forgotten Great Mother. Over millennia, the unconscious, personified as the feminine principle, has become gradually more suppressed by consciousness, personified as the masculine principle, in all of us. As aspects of the unconscious became submerged, it became the task of the shaman/ess to undertake the descent into the underworld, maintaining a relationship to this forgotten world. This is e.g. portrayed in the myths of Inanna, Persephone and Orpheus.

Later, even this process of descent into the underworld became forgotten, until it was made accessible again by Jung’s psychology, so that we might consciously undertake the inner journey.

The silent form of the Black Madonna may inform and contain us each on our own journey, in our dark night of the soul, as we grapple with our fate. It is her call: by heeding it, by following her lead, we each in our own way contribute to the restoration of her temple.

References:

1. Website of Europe up close: Article on The Mystery of the Black Madonna

2. Website: Depth Insights Blog: Symbolism of the Black Madonna, a Jungian Perspective, Interview with Judy Zappacosta