August 11, 2022 at 4:39 pm #74668Stephen GerringerKeymaster
Craig Deininger, Ph.D. – mythologist, poet, Jungian scholar, and construction worker – joins us this week in Conversations of a Higher Order to discuss “Archetypal-Mechanics from an Unseen Aid,” his latest entry in JCF’s MythBlast essay series.
Though I will start the discussion, this is not an interview. Please join in and engage Craig directly with your questions, comments, reactions, observations and insights, which is what makes this communal exchange of ideas a true “conversation of a higher order.”
Craig – What a subject! Nailing down the concept of archetypes is as simple as stapling jello to the wall. I especially appreciate your distinction between archetype and symbol (or, if you will, image), which avoids that tendency some Jungians have (note I said some, not all) of fitting everything into cookie-cutter patterns (once an anima, always an anima).
Indeed, Jung himself distinguishes between archetypes — which are unknown and unknowable to waking consciousness, any more than we can directly apprehend a raw instinct (which we identify by its effect in our lives) — and archetypal images. In the phenomenal world — which is where we all live — what we encounter and engage are those archetypal expressions, rather than the archetype itself.
I confess I have a number of symbol dictionaries – some detailed and expansive encyclopedias, others concise and slender books – that I consult regularly (though not as often as I used to) when working with myths (or dreams). But I don’t generally start there, nor take any entry as the definitive meaning of an image; rather, if I find myself stuck on an image I’ll look it up, or as close as I can get to it, in a couple different reference works, specifically to serve as a nudge to get my creative juices flowing – and then I’ll return to my own associations and experience of that image.
I would love to delve deeper – I have thoughts, lots of thoughts on this subject – but at the moment I’m traveling with my wife, tapping this entry out on my laptop in a hotel room in New Orleans, while she waits for me to meet her downstairs. So, given the magnitude of this subject, I’m going to kick this thread back over to you and ask, “So what?”
Archetypes, symbols, images – so what? For the average person who isn’t a philosopher, mythologist, literature professor, or depth psychologist, what difference does a grasp of archetype or symbol make in one’s life. What, if any, are the practical applications?August 14, 2022 at 9:00 pm #74677
Thank you, Stephen. How refreshing is your “so what?” You do right by me to open the conversation on this practical note.
Equally refreshing is your “like stapling jello to the wall/conceptualizing archetypes, symbol, image” analogy. So let me begin there and employ your analogy via analogy in an attempt to reverse-engineer a path back to the practical. And first by diving into potential concrete detail of the image: that faint jello-residue that remains, however briefly (a week maybe?) coating the bottom surface-area of the staple, a negligible portion of the wall and, of course, those two punctures that sent an even thinner residue farther in, and which has perhaps begun nourishing a city of microscopic something-or-others.
I could be practical and say “scale” and save the day. For example, we sort of know that there’s as much (so-called) “space” between atomic particles as there is between the planets, and maybe stars—again, in terms of scale and not actual miles or lightyears. But that’s not the practical card I want to play. Quality of life in the moment is. And deep experience. But for now, I’m more interested in getting (or remaining) partially lost in the details—an important aspect.
So back to our (now) ocean of jello beneath that great staple-lid, and to our city of teeming something-or-others which we could call pelagiacter ubique bacteria (400-900 nanometers long, and one of the smallest known living things). But better to go with “Nanobes,” whose structural existence is confirmed (at a mere 20 nanometers), yet whether or not living (by present scientific standards) remains inconclusive.
Why select something that is more questionable? more unverified? Again, we’re looking for ways in which to sustain being somewhat lost, that way we have a foot in each world, so to speak, of the known and unknown. Hence, the story of the questionable Nanobes (over the blatant and now almost-cliché, 50x-larger pelagiacter ubique bacteria) which will hopefully lead us, or point us (like the image of a symbol) the way further down this path that eventually dissolves, and us with it, into the pure experience. Yum. By the way, this is how my meditation-practice functions, a mantra (sonic image) that tangibly occupies the awareness and then, like a symbol’s image, dissolves and carries my awareness over with it, into the dissolution. Also, yum. I mention this because awareness, and methods of cultivating our faculties of awareness like meditation, exercising the body, reflection, thoughtfulness, etc., deepen our relationship to the concrete details, indeed, pervades them. And when complemented by conceptual knowledge of the structural mechanics of what an image can do, its role in symbol and archetype, we have an effective formula for landing ourselves in the experience beyond the image.
Okay, almost there—to the “practical,” that is. One last piece to add to our specific-detailing of our analogy: the very relevant ALH84001—a meteorite ejected from the body of Mars from some probably ancient unwitnessed impact-event and later found in Antarctica, harboring, you guessed it, Nanobes. So at least we now know our “wall” is made of rock. And that our staple and stapler are of heavier-duty than the ones at the office.
Okay, I’m done. There’s the tangible bedrock: plenty of specific, although arbitrarily (and imaginally) rendered imagery and concept, embedded in a more thorough narrative, albeit mostly expository.
So, what of the practical? How does the imagery and intel of Nanobes and (potential) microscopic space-aliens teeming upon ALH84001 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston help me file my taxes, take out the recycling on Thursdays?
One answer: attentiveness and thoughtfulness—i.e., interaction with the concrete detail, that’s the first step.
The second answer, and step, is by analogy (and not metaphor). One way to approach analogy is as a structural aspect of metaphor—its base skeleton, so to speak. To clarify analogy with an analogy: analogy is to metaphor as sign is to symbol. But news alert: analogies and signs are not the devil. They are structure—conceptual centers of gravity that provide enough intellectual “foundness” to keep us from being fully lost in the endless images, and that sustain our precious condition of remaining partially lost which is also partially found—basically, the human-condition in a nutshell.
And what of archetypes, symbols, myth, for the layperson who has not made a profession of this kind of stuff?
Process. Process of attentiveness, thoughtfulness, to the concrete, to the myriad details, the images (of all five categories—i.e., perceived by all five senses) that we encounter, alongside a recognition and understanding of the mechanical functionings of conceptual organizing structures—recognizing that these exist and function somewhere in the interface or overlapping of our awareness with the images we encounter. And good to remind Jung’s emphasis of how whether an image functions as a sign or symbol is dependent upon the consciousness of the perceiver.
And, more importantly, to recognize that these “structural functions” somehow participate in the transmutation of image as sign into image as living symbol. That this latter happens, and how it happens, is mysterious. Some call it (and this is approaching it structurally) “seeing through” the images. But first we have to “stick to the images.” And, to approach it mystically and mythically, I can only quote Marie-Louise von Franz quoting Jung quoting some “obscure alchemical text”: “For those who have the symbol, the transformation is easy.”
But let me finish by backing way up, and take out the recycling on Thursday night, while keeping the example of the whole Nanobes/ALH84001 narrative in mind, analogically. What we must do, from our end, in two parts: The first is perceiving the concrete specificity, the last is knowing the structures at work, and somewhat of how they work. And if “how” they work is too ambitious, then simply by wrestling with figuring this out. For that practice adds to our knowing, as well. Like honing on a steep upward slope. By engaging it alone, I have a kind of knowledge, and quite deep, of what a steep upward slope is about.
So, First, the perceiving of concrete specifics and that there is the story of my taking out the recycling, revealed to me by the concrete content that I offer my attention to (and even that I don’t offer my attention to, but won’t touch that now): the trill of cicadas from the neighbor’s yard, rising and falling, spilling over the fence, the stars somewhat dimmed by the ambient house-light, the way the grass gently resists my steps, then gives way, brushing over my bare feet a light coat of dew, which hopefully is refreshing. And increases, however negligibly, the quality of my present moment. After all, it all goes down in the inescapable present moment, which I guess is synonymous with eternity or something like that.
And Last, KNOWING that these “images,” coexisting in their, and my, story—exist in a narrative which also possesses inert, skeletal, conceptual structure that can come to life, as sign can to symbol, and analogy to metaphor, denotation to connotation, so-called “reality” to imagination, mundane to mythic.
I think this is at least the beginning of the formula that leads to the deep water. Both up and running concurrently. At first this requires some work, but as with all things we train in, it begins to flow—all to the improvement of quality of life in the present, to deep, rich experience, which is pleasant to have accompanying us while taking out the recycling. And if this end is not of practical value, then my apologies for the whole Nanobes/ALH84001-analogy which was also an exercise and example in the practice of that first step, attention to concrete detail. I guess we’ll just have to wait till Thursday night to find out.August 15, 2022 at 4:13 pm #74676
Thank you for this interesting essay! Some thoughts:
In 1918, Dr. Oswald Spengler published the first volume of Decline of the West, a book which might be familiar to readers of Joseph Campbell as he had read that book multiple times and the book deeply informed some of his thinking. In that book, Spengler attempts to employ a process similar to depth psychological amplification to develop a morphology of history, one which would allow him to use history to make predictions about the future. And this he would do about the future of Western culture which had, according to Spengler, entered the period of a culture’s life called ‘decline,’ the near exhaustion of its possibilities, a period he would call ‘civilization,’ and particular to the West, the ‘Faustian’ stage. In that work, Spengler would write that there is no “technique of analogy,” something that I feel remains largely true a century later (I would stipulate here that there is no rigorous technique of analogy). In my experience, it has only been mathematics which has offered rigorous notions and formal proofs of what equality and equivalence mean in disciplines such as topology, homotopy theory, and especially category theory (∞-cosmoi). Unfortunately, within depth psychology, we still grapple with the important notions related to archetypes and synchronicity which include correspondence, analogy, equivalence, etc. For example, the process of concluding that a set of archetypal images gathered from distant cultures over potentially vast periods of time are of the same archetype is not formally defined. This is not to say that it should be. Unlike mathematics, we use the whole human, not just reason, to judge and argue for similarity, analogy, etc. But, the process itself is very seldom articulated. When Jung would deliver seminars and there was some disagreement on whether a given image was of the archetype they were discussing, the criteria for judgment appeared to be ever shifting, its basis grounded in variations of breadth (of psychological data) or depth (of history, religion, etc.). Thus, this process even in the 21st century needs more reflection and explication, and the task for doing so should be, in my estimation, multidisciplinary.
It is worth mentioning that Joseph Campbell explored two different reasons for what he considered to be universal mythical themes applicable to cultures across geography and time. The first, as you mentioned, was based on the depth psychological hypothesis of the archetype. We can categorize this as an acausal-based explanation. Crucially, Campbell would use great care here and call this a provisional explanation (this certainly comes out in his interviews). The other explanation Campbell would focus on was the causal-based perspective of diffusion (e.g., common themes emerge due to migration, trade, conquest, etc.). We get into very difficult and complex territory when we develop explanations which require the mixing of the two, for I don’t see them as being necessarily mutually exclusive. But, here we are often in the position Jung was in when discussing synchronicity – to argue for synchronicity as an explanation, he had to rule out causal explanations, normally by arguing that the causal explanation had an exceedingly low probability associated with it. In the present case, we might approach a universal theme by saying diffusion could not account for it because the historical facts as we know them doesn’t support the sharing that would be required.
You wrote that archetypes are “abstract constructions, theoretical classifications that are deduced after the fact to address sources that precede the fact.” But, are they necessarily so? Are archetypes necessarily deduced? Here, I draw on a number of things. First, consider the meditation on the Sri Yantra. It is as much meditating on the outgoing of creation from the zero-dimensional point as it is the return from the outer patterns back toward that central zero-dimensional point (and beyond). I am also reminded of Sophia in Jung’s Answer to Job where he quotes from Proverbs:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as a master workman, …
In other words, his creation and that from which he draws comes from that which cannot be seen, experienced, or known, reminding one of how Philemon described ‘magic’ – “Above all, you must know that magic is the negative of what you can know. … there is nothing for you to understand. … Magic happens to be precisely everything that eludes comprehension. … Magic is neither to be taught nor learned. It’s foolish that you want to learn magic.”
It is also helpful to consider Philemon’s Sermon on the Pleroma (Sermon I) since that gives us a better sense of the difficulty we have in using human notions to experience and understand the Pleroma. And we see in Philemon a certain pragmatism when he says “But why then do we speak of the Pleroma at all, if it is everything and nothing? I speak about it in order to begin somewhere.” The reason this is important is because almost 40 years later after this Sermon was delivered (in the Black Books), Jung would publish is magnum opus Mysterium Coniunctionis (CW 14) in which he would explore the work of the 16th century alchemist Gerhard Dorn and his stages of the coniunctio, the final stage being the union with the unus mundus which, deeply informed by Genesis I, was “the original, non-differentiated unity of the world or of Being,” “the potential world of the first day of creation, when there was as yet ‘no second,’ ” before God separated the heavens and the Earth, and that from which all was created and, in some readings, back to which all returns. Jung would see his psychoid unconscious as analogous to the unus mundus and the archetypes as its facilitators.
Dr. Jeffrey Raff has said that Jung’s Analytical Psychology supports only the first two stages of the coniunctio, but does not support union with the unus mundus. And here lies the essential question. If such a union were possible, what would that mean regarding our experience of the archetypes? In Jung’s tradition, the psyche is the only medium for human experience. As the archetype is (likely) beyond the psyche, the psychoid archetype cannot be experienced. Is Jung correct, though, when he says we cannot experience that which is trans-psychic? In his seminar in 1932 on Kundalini with respect to the seventh chakra, the sahasrāra, Jung said:
To speak about the lotus of the thousand petals above, the sahasrāra center, is quite superfluous because that is merely a philosophical concept with no substance to us whatever; it is beyond any possible experience. In ājñā there is still the experience of the self that is apparently different from the object, God. But in sahasrāra one understands that it is not different, and so the next conclusion would be that there is no object, no God, nothing but brahman. There is no experience because it is one, it is without a second. It is dormant, it is not, and therefore it is nirvāna. This is an entirely philosophical concept, a mere logical conclusion from the premises before. It is without practical value for us.
There is another aspect of archetypes which question whether they are necessarily deduced. This has to do with whether they are truly a priori eternal or whether they have genesis in time. Jung would write both in his many works, sometimes favoring them as eternal, other times favoring their being created through activities done innumerable times. In 1924, Jung would write in CW 17, para. 207:
The inherited brain is the product of our ancestral life. It consists of the structural deposits or equivalents of psychic activities which were repeated innumerable times in the life of our ancestors. Conversely, it is at the same time the ever-existing a priori type and author of the corresponding activity. Far be it from me to decide which came first, the hen or the egg.
He would never definitively resolve this issue. But, the notion of archetypes resulting from activities repeated innumerable times reminds one of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake’s formative causation. We also have to consider the extreme difficulty in connecting archetypes to psychic energy. How does an archetype seemingly acquire such immense concentrations of libido? It appears to me to be able to channel this energy somehow; govern its flow. And with the added complication of the Jung-Pauli hypothesis that archetypes govern both psyche and matter (physis), the situation becomes even more complicated. I mention all of this because one of the things I am working on is an explication of how Jung’s hypothesis of the archetype and the principle of synchronicity anticipate the later developments in complexity science and the mathematics of category theory. In other words, the archetype and synchronicity are intuitive notions of that which became rigorously defined and proved such as strange attractors in dynamic systems, emergence of order from chaos, self-organization, etc. In these disciplines, then, we may get a better sense of whether the archetype is necessarily deduced.
Finally, it is worth mentioning, since you wrote that Jung advises learning and then forgetting images, that he did so only for a particular context which is contained in the 1928 work Contributions to Analytical Psychology. There he specified the context to be the act of conducting depth psychotherapy: “Learn your theories as well as you can, but put them aside when you touch the miracle of the living soul. Not theories, but your own creative individuality alone must decide.”
My question after all of this is why is “unseen aid” linked exclusively with archetypes? Why can’t such “unseen aid” be rendered by (currently) unknown (but, crucially, not Unknowable) figures?August 16, 2022 at 4:02 am #74675
Thanks you for your many insights. And founded on deep and thorough scholarship/understanding. Deeper indeed than I am equipped to engage on its level. Nonetheless, all the more interesting to me as I dive in. Also, let me share the obvious that I was attempting to unpack archetype, unseen aid, and the rest, all within a 1,000 word limit. And within these very broad strokes, there is abundant content that falls apart under different approaches or simply under more precise investigation. But then, that’s always been the challenge with summation, with extracting formulas and structures, the mechanics, from specific phenomena: the briefer and pithier they become, the more general they become, and the more that gets overlooked or even excluded–one reason why I emphasize, for myself at least, the exception-formula (irony noted). And why, of the many insights you shared that I resonate with, is your observation: “unlike mathematics, we use the whole human, not just reason, to judge and argue for similarity, analogy, etc.”
And although you share this in the context of analogy (and bookmark that), it’s the “use of the whole human” part that I key in on. And I suppose it has to do with uniqueness, individuation, and the like, and from there, the relationship of these to such things as encounters with figures, or with calling, or even destiny (and you mention “synchronicity”, bookmark that, too)—not that I’m going to figure these out or anything, but rather that I like to be near them and am able to somewhat do so by considering them, inquiring into them, wrestling with what they may be and be about. And that in so doing, I get to be in their company in a way, although so very marginally. I’ll take what I can get. And then there are other ways in: art, meditation, dreamwork, all that. One last thing on working with mechanics, meaning the likes of archetype, symbol, image…: they are (the mechanics, that is), to me, complementary. And further down on my list on the stuff that actually gets me “there.”
Nonetheless, they are so very effective in contributing to opening the ways. Anyway, just wanted to provide a context on where I come from before wrestling with the mechanics-angel. And on that note, your question “are archetypes necessarily deduced?” I would answer yes and no, and at least refine it to: Yes, in our investigations and designs of how they function, in the language, graphs, etc., we employ to express its function. And no, when approaching, or better, “imagining” the archetype per se (for how else can we approach it on its own terms?), as its own phenomenon, as (and now based on our designs) a source. But I like your point more, sharing Jung’s Answer to Job, and the futility of studying it at all. Indeed, that’s my kind of environment.
Anyway, I want to get hands dirty and get into some of the mechanics and content you share, but must pick this up tomorrow after work, since I’m fighting the sleep now even as I type, but wanted to at least get some response back to you. As potential areas of diving in, one is that I would very much like to hear more of your take on: analogy, since you have a keen understanding of it. I have been wrestling for years over its relationship to metaphor, if and where they overlap and where they go their separate ways. Or not, we can stick with the archetype (and not the image) (my attempt at humor). And as I bookmarked, your mention of synchronicity—which for me, spills over into, I want to say, spiritual, stuff, but now too tired to wield words with much precision etc. So to be picked up tomorrow early evening. And either in response to what I’ve shared here, or to remain with what you’ve already shared, please feel free to respond and share an area or two, from your side or mine, that you’d like to dive into more thoroughly. And we can do so. Thank you! CraigAugust 17, 2022 at 2:29 am #74674
Day’s work done, so wanted to come back on and continue. Since didn’t hear back from you for potential directions, I reckoned I’d spend some time on the what you mentioned you are working on, and to me is sounds very intriguing and valuable. In your words:
“an explication of how Jung’s hypothesis of the archetype and the principle of synchronicity anticipate the later developments in complexity science and the mathematics of category theory. In other words, the archetype and synchronicity are intuitive notions of that which became rigorously defined and proved such as strange attractors in dynamic systems, emergence of order from chaos, self-organization, etc.”
And then you continue addressing that through these disciplines we may get a better sense of whether or not archetypes are deduced, although that direction is less intriguing to me than the so many other potential discoveries awaiting you in your inquiry—and by the way, I also am intrigued by this not only because archetype and synchronicity are favorites of mine, but because you’re bringing in, like you mentioned earlier, multidisciplinary approach. And I am sold on that, too. To a mythologist: multidisciplinary approach is like meta-amplification. And if not meta-, then mega-amplification. So you mention disciplines like mathematics (a field which excels at being clear and unambiguous—and usually I laud ambiguity, coming from a literature-ish angle, but I think the mathematics’ value is its precision and non-ambiguity, which speak to the necessary (clear) structure for ambiguity (I could go on from a poetry-angle on clarity in ambiguity, but back to the math, somewhat, like all that great stuff on imaginary and irrational numbers, which I know only a little about)(And I go on about this, because I am hoping that you might show me where mathematics stretches beyond itself into the likes of ambiguity, intuition, and all that stuff that I like to camp out in.)
Speaking of which, it was your key phrase: “In other words, the archetype and synchronicity are intuitive notions…” (I can’t speak to the “strange attractors in dynamic systems” in chaos theory, etc.—had to look that part up, sounds awesome: that strange attractors predict “the formation of semi-stable patterns..” ) And again, ‘semi-stable’ is what captures my intrigue there. Something ambiguous. Or clearly unambiguous in that it occupies both stable and unstable, uh, dimensions, maybe?
Anyway, it sounds like a great direction to me. But back to what originally captured my attention: ‘archetype and synchronicity as intuitive notions.’ And I suppose you’re on a great track if it leads into intuitive terrain, into terrains that involve “semi-.” Would love to hear some of your take on the relationship between archetype/synchronicity and intuition, with emphasis on the “intuition” part. Though, I must confess I am being selfish, as this latter is way up on my list of favorites.August 17, 2022 at 4:31 am #74673
Let me begin by reiterating that I really enjoyed your essay! Of course, one is not expected to be able to cover all aspects of a given theme. So, please understand my response as just a set of thoughts that emerged as I read your interesting piece. And since your initial response indicated you intended to follow up when you were better rested, I waited to pen my response. So, let me begin with a few things inspired by your two responses.
I am very much an advocate of multidisciplinary scholarship and have been since I began graduate school, first in linguistics and then in theoretical computer science. And I am an advocate of multi-paradigmatic approaches to a given issue, each paradigm offering its own unique opportunity to circumambulate the issue in its own way. Take alchemy, for example, an area that I have been working with for the last several years. Serious scholarship on alchemy, say the Graeco-Egyptian alchemical tradition, requires rigorous scholarship in history of religion, history of science, linguistics, knowledge of ancient languages such as Greek, Coptic, Syriac, and then its translation into Arabic, history of the first 3 or 4 centuries in Roman Egypt, archeology, etc. No single person could hope to be an expert in all that is required here. Even more important, there is the very real danger that a single person, even if somewhat proficient in all of these areas, will (unconsciously?) arrange the data culled from the different disciplines in a way that is far too personal (e.g., a sort of synthesis into a unified whole which mirrors oneself more than representing the tradition more objectively). This is why, in addition to my being an advocate of multidisciplinary scholarship, I am also an advocate of collaboration among experts of different disciplines, even (and especially) if this leads to areas of disagreement. It is critical, in my opinion, not to necessarily strive for a unified view, but instead to strive for a consciousness of areas of agreement and areas of disagreement as it applies to a single discipline such as Graeco-Egyptian alchemy.
I also want to mention something about the unconscious. For various reasons, I am working on an effort to reconsider the unconscious. And in that work, I recently came across a short paper by Dr. Sonu Shamdasani entitled Questioning the Unconscious published in 2017 in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. I believe it was a conference he attended. And in that paper, he discusses different models of the unconscious and that there is great doubt whether any model will garner universal agreement. Now, in my technical past, developing models (stochastic/mathematical-based and simulation-based) was part of what I used to do and teach – models of hard real-time networks, of consumer electronics, of interconnected automobile safety systems, etc. And this gave me a perspective on some of the advantages and disadvantages of developing a model. As you know, a model is an abstraction, one which has been consciously developed with certain intentions in mind and informed by a set of goals. Such abstraction is done by modeling only those details which are important to the set of goals, and this differentiates the model from that which it is modeling. The reasons abstraction is done include faster development time (prototypes are exceedingly difficult to build and the cost is high), mathematical tractability, and reduction in computer simulation time (i.e., amount of time it takes to get answers).
Now, a major advantage of models is, quite simply, that you can *play* with them. You can see the push-pull of the components that make up the model, discover its interdependencies, examine the relationship of change of behavior to differing inputs, reveal areas of stress, etc. It also provides a way to develop a far more nuanced understanding of that which you want to create. Perhaps most importantly, this model serves as an object through which one’s imagination can take flight, but flight which is not entirely free, but necessarily tied in some ways to the real world. Thus, one can see this as being a kind of controlled imagining.
It is in this way that I would like to use complexity science and category theory – as models for certain concepts that Jung developed. Crucially, these models are not intended to be the real thing. I am not creating an archetype out of math. But, math can reveal certain properties that Jung might have seen in the archetype or in synchronicity. Take acausality, for example. In complexity science, one can create simple models where higher complex structures emerge from more basic interconnected components. Such emergence cannot at this time be explained causally. Now, it may be possible that in such a model, there are multiple complex structures that emerge that somehow have connection to one another, but there is no cause discernible for such a connection. Such may be an area of exploration in order to get a better understanding of the acausality that connects inner and outer events in a synchronicity. Again, the model is not synchronicity – it just exhibits an aspect of it, namely acausality.
I should also say something about the Natural numbers (1, 2, 3, …) here. As you know, Jung and Pauli came to see the Natural numbers as being archetypes of order. Furthermore, they saw that the order embodied by the Natural numbers (an order which is explored in exceedingly rigorous ways in mathematics in areas like Number theory) is acausal and an example of what they called acausal orderedness (nuclear decay and synchronicity are other examples). Because the natural numbers are the most basic of archetypes and because there is a tremendous amount of knowledge of the Natural numbers as it relates to their orderedness, it makes a lot of sense to try to understand archetypes through trying to understand the Natural numbers and how they function, especially as they, as with all archetypes, govern both psyche and matter (physis). Jung would hand off this work to his greatest collaborator, Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz, who would go on to publish one of her masterpieces Number and Time. One might consider, then, the Natural numbers and their use in the world to be models which we can investigate and develop a deeper understanding of archetypes. Archetypes such as the anima/animus are far too difficult to work with in this way.
Now, an example of working with mathematics which can reveal greater nuance into how certain things function in depth psychology is the study of the psychological typology function of intuition in the context of formal mathematics. I wrote a piece entitled Reflections on Intuition Based on the Ramanujan/Hardy Collaboration in Formal Mathematics (1914-1920) in which I explored mathematical intuition and, in part, why it is sometimes wrong. Now, with less formal uses of intuition, when it presents possibilities that are not real or are unrealizable, we normally do not know why it has done so. But when mathematical intuition suggests a possibility, we can evaluate whether that possibility is consistent mathematically. And if we find that it is not consistent, we can better determine why intuition gave the wrong possibility, and it often comes down to a mistaken set of assumptions held by the individual. This is what I discovered in doing the research for my note. So, again, intuition in the context of mathematics is quite limited, but it serves as a model to provide greater nuance into understanding how intuition functions overall. It also provides instruction on how the individual can collaborate with the unconscious so that the language of the unconscious is clearer. I have found that when the individual has done the leg work, meaning when they have exhausted themselves in doing the analysis, the reflection, etc., the response by the unconscious is often stronger and of far greater clarity and relevance.
Returning to your post and whether the archetype is necessarily deduced, I do wonder about one thing. What was it that inspired Jung to pursue something beyond that which is directly experienceable? Why did he not settle for archetypal images and symbols? Why did he feel the need to go further and to hypothesize the unknowable psychoid archetype? These questions really have nothing to do with the correctness of the concept of the archetype. It has more to do with the experience Jung had in developing the concept – what it was that drove him. For example, was it part of his experiences during his confrontation with the unconscious from 1913 to 1932 that inspired him to search beyond the image? Or, did it somehow lend itself intellectually – did it account for important necessary dynamics in his model of the unconscious? I would very much love to explore this line of thought. And with the Black Books, the Red Book, and the 2018 book The Art of C. G. Jung, we are in a far better position to do so than we were, say, 15 years ago.August 18, 2022 at 7:14 am #74672
I struggle (gladly) with where to begin as so much of this aligns with the work or directions that I’ve come to value most in my studies. While I have the thought-energy, I’ll not save the best (to me) for last and respond first to your work on mathematical intuition, which per se, I can only observe from the bleachers, but am immediately inspired regarding the portion of your study that attends to why mathematical intuition is sometimes wrong. My enthusiasm is sparked because high up on my list of intuition-mysteries, from a depth psychological approach, and from personal experience, is that, yes, it often wrong. At first, I sought to learn something of the mechanics of why this happens (and in my opinion, this is precisely what your work is doing, and even better that it comes from a field distinct from more common depth psychology terrain ((although I have read Number and Time, and am very fond of Marie-Louise von Franz’s work—bookmark that–and I’m guessing then that your approach exemplifies the new-to-me term: complexity-science and if that misses, then of a multidisciplinary character).
Anyway, I made unsatisfactory progress in my inquiry and instead shifted the question from “why and how” to “what is the value of the wrong-intuition phenomenon.” In the end, I entertained the idea that intuition is such a powerful function–I deem it the highest value of Jung’s four functions, because it overlaps with, or brushes shoulders with, or indeed is, uh, magic, or (and pardon me for putting it so without backup, but to save time) limited omniscience—maybe prescience a better word–and “feelings” (will pick that up later). I like looking for balances (and hence counterbalances), and so inferred that intuition being so great, must come at an equally high price. Why Mickey Mantle became my go-to mascot for this phenomenon as he led the league in homeruns four times, but also led it in strikeouts five times. Not particularly good science, but enough to bring me some peace on a matter I was not making progress in. And also, as a mythologist, I appreciated Mantle’s, to some, rather mythic/legendary career/life. Bottom line: high gains, high losses, and high-stakes—After all, when “right” it utterly crushes the probability curves.
But when one acts prematurely on an intuition that later proves to be wrong, very high prices are paid. Not very scientific, Mickey Mantle, etc., but serves a value for me. Nonetheless, I may give reading your work a try if it’s not specialized beyond my means, though likely is. The struggle with multidisciplinary approaches, each approach one could camp out on for lifetimes—how much math or physics, or astronomy (my three favorites of the sciences in ascending order) to “learn” when poetry is my chosen main field. It bests, for me, the depth psychology, the alchemy studies (bookmark), and even (gasp) mythology. But they’re all so related, and I have digressed.
…but can segue via intuition into synchronicity. Primarily because acausality apparently accompanies both. And secondarily, because of my interest in synchronicity as “signs.” And I don’t mean Jung’s distinction from “symbols,” but rather the common usage, “a sign from god,” “an omen,” etc. Because just as intuitions come in the wrong variety, so do synchronicities deemed as signs. For example, I am on foot, and northward someone awaits me for something I have reluctantly committed to. To the south is the nature preserve where I really need to go walk and do “my thing” for a change—“embrace my freedom,” I think to myself. And at the moment of that last thought, torn between the two choices, a bald eagle swoops down and perches on a sign right before me that reads “ONE WAY” and the arrow obviously pointing south. And let’s add it’s my first bald eagle encounter, lifetime. And that I’m into the whole “America” thing. Point being, although I’ve not had that experience, I have had experiences that I’d say match and even surpass it in magnitude. In short, I followed the signs. And indeed they had often been, against all odds and faith, very wrong directions. In James Hillman’s view, a wrong intuition is still an intuition. Similarly can one say a wrong synchronicity (in this “sign” context) is a wrong synchronicity? Ah, but then one can look back years later and see how that “mistake” contributed to one’s deepening, individuation. Alas, strikeout. Additionally, I may have conflated sign and synchronicity too lazily. Maybe some unforeseen value in the correlation though. Anyway, to conclude the thread, my final deduction was that the deity concerned with my well-being sent a very clear message: “Stop relying on me to make your choices for you; embrace your autonomy.” Or something like that.
Back to your complexity-science/mathematical model approach (and your distinction of models from the real thing noted) of acausality of the emergence and the possibility of causality being present, but as a not-yet-identifiable presence. All of which investigating the connection between, as you say, inner and outer. And here, one might suggest that “my” inner was projected onto the eagle, but that would not be synchronicity, rather it would interpretation, or hope, even. Just felt it important to back up and distinguish that, obvious though may be. [and here I lost the thread, and was over my head anyway. So rather address the gestalt of the approach(es) you’ve shared. It feels (and by the way, I associate “feels” and even “feelings,” indeed, “emotionality,” more with intuition than I do with the feeling function, which frustrates me greatly regarding the titles Jung has applied for the four functions. Though someone may show me the err in my ways and save me, thank you in advance). (And I guess it’s obvious now, and perhaps equally frustrating, that I move ideas forward like a novice shepherd moving way too many belligerent sheep, many of whom having little to nothing to do with each other—big fan of the inductive)–point being, the gestalt of your complexity-science approach appreciates that the potential discoveries that can be, not cornered, or not initially at least, but nuanced out, or honed out, so to speak, from the traction or friction between disparate contexts when said contexts are put in the same room together (cf. alchemy/alembic). And that, if accurate, speaks very directly to the mechanics of metaphor, which is in my wheelhouse. And will resist going on about metaphor right now–sheep in all directions and as far as the eye can see.
The sleep-deprivation challenge continues, and so must etc. And can only give this a one-time read through before posting. It requires much more time than that. Anyway, I regret didn’t get to what you shared regarding imagination requiring real. In your words: “Perhaps most importantly, this model serves as an object through which one’s imagination can take flight, but flight which is not entirely free, but necessarily tied in some ways to the real world.” (similar to my thoughts on “honing out the discoveries from the traction friction of disparates” above. Only in this case it’s more “opposites”). Further, to your (intuition, maybe?) of the necessity of imagination and reality, my editor and fellow Mythblast author Bradley Olson introduced me to Wallace Stevens’s essays on imagination. Excellent stuff—especially in the first essay that addresses the necessity of the tension between imagination and “reality” as a conflict between connotative and denotative language (or one’s read of language)(attitude of the perceiver stuff), where denotation gives clear structural direction, and connotation provides the multiplicity of association, the scattered herd of belligerent sheep, if you will. Also, it brings to mind from I forget now which alchemical text, “The Emblem of Avicenna” which I think you’d appreciate: an image of a flying bird tied by a chain to a sort of toad-like/gila monsterish thing on the ground, and is also called “Fixing the Volatile.”
And that leads to the next regret, not time for diving into the alchemy. That’s one that I study pretty thoroughly, and Marie-Louise von Franz my preferred presenter–in that, and in other things.
And lastly, it should not be overlooked your: “I have found that when the individual has done the leg work, meaning when they have exhausted themselves in doing the analysis, the reflection, etc., the response by the unconscious is often stronger and of far greater clarity and relevance.” Indeed. That has been unequivocally my experience, do the inner work: meditation, dreams, poetry, science, avocation, etc.,. And fighting sleep again, but one lastly last on this: I find it very amusing that for all the hard work one does in this inner-work business, in the quest to achieve greater liberation, they are guaranteed, as a reward, to incur upon themselves not less, but ever increasing responsibility. Apparently our reward for progress is to be held accountable for the levels (or whatever one wants to call them) we achieve. Let that be a warning to all the fortunate ones who excel in the work. Ha. I sleep.August 20, 2022 at 12:53 am #74671
Dr. Deininger – Thank you for your interesting response. As you brought up magic, it is worth considering how magic is discussed in the Black Books. I have worked with this in two contexts: Jung’s runes (shown to him by the figure Ha) and my discussion on the use of negation in depth psychology. When Jung meets Philemon the Magician, Philemon tells Jung the following essential facts about magic:
Above all, you must know that magic is the negative of what you can know. … there is nothing for you to understand. … Magic happens to be precisely everything that eludes comprehension. … Magic is neither to be taught nor learned. It’s foolish that you want to learn magic.
And when Jung receives the magical black rod, he is told by his Soul “You must sacrifice solace for the sake of the black rod, the solace you give and the solace you receive.” All of this pertains to the proper frame of mind with which to consider and approach magic. I have not pursued this line of thinking, but given your bringing together intuition and magic, one wonders if these discussions of magic anticipate certain aspects of intuition in Jung’s Analytical Psychology, recognizing the critical fact that it was Maria Moltzer who had first developed intuition as a psychological function, work which Jung would shape into his own theory.
As your discussion of intuition points out, it is most unfair to intuition to consider it solely in terms of right or wrong. In my note on intuition, I wrote the following:
While it goes without saying that intuition can be wrong despite its accompanying experience of certainty and conviction, a position inherent in Jung’s typology in its recognition of the necessity of the other three psychological functions, such an experience bordering on the numinous can make it exceedingly difficult to critique the intuition. But, it should be remembered that Jung held intuition to be “right” only 50% of the time. In his seminar on Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, Jung said “It is utterly improbable that more than 50 percent of intuitions are true because we are surrounded by a large percentage of false possibilities.” Jung developed a more nuanced understanding of potentialities recognizing that some potentialities were not necessarily realizable; that some potentialities are false possibilities. This is part of the reason one cannot, without subsequent verification, hold an intuition to represent truth, something which will be explored later in this note in the context of formal mathematics.
But, you are correct that intuitions, even if judged to be wrong (embodying a ‘false’ possibility), can be very helpful to the individual. And I believe your comments embody the critical notion that to benefit from such an intuition, it is the responsibility of the individual to work with it in as critical yet holistic a manner as possible. And returning to your original discussion on Jung and archetypes, one reason he may not have stopped at the directly experienceable (archetypal images, symbols, etc.) was because he had a sort of intuition of something (which is no-thing) which underlay all of that – the archetype. Again, this is a topic worth study.
As your article discusses, the individual path/quest about which Joseph Campbell wrote so passionately and eloquently contains within it unseen aid, one manifestation of which may be the experience of intuitions. But, there, say as a medieval knight on a quest, it is exceedingly difficult to approach intuitions in a critical and holistic manner because the external circumstances may be far too intense to allow it. This reveals one of the advantages of the approach of the ascetic – the time and space to work with such ‘magical’ emanations. On the other hand, what is gained in isolated spiritual practice may be too weak to survive the immense pressures of the real world. Thus, in some ways, the hero in the Arthurian literature might be seen as someone who strikes a balance – a spiritual aspirant who is active in the world – one who seeks their own answers (individual quest) yet at the same time serves the King and Queen.
This sort of balance reminds me of the practice of medieval and early modern Latin alchemy. Here, there is a balance between inner cultivation of mind and the execution of outer alchemical operations. Regarding why Latin alchemy declined by the 18th century, Jung suggested that one reason was that the outer form of alchemy was abandoned in favor of pure imagination. Now, in Chinese alchemy, there is a successful form of internal-only alchemy called Neidan, so the question is why the Western version of internal-only alchemy was not successful. One possibility I considered was that the underlying philosophy of Taoism was better suited than that of Hermetic philosophy, but this is largely conjecture on my part.
Segueing into synchronicity, let me use alchemy to accomplish that. Jung very seldom discusses synchronicity in the context of alchemy, and he is very careful when considering the possibility that synchronicity accounted for part of the art. In Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung wrote:
While the adept had always looked for the effects of his stone outside, for instance as the panacea or golden tincture or life-prolonging elixir, and only during the sixteenth century pointed with unmistakable clarity to an inner effect, psychological experience emphasizes above all the subjective reaction to the formation of images, and—with a free and open mind—still reserves judgment in regard to possible objective effects. [RJ: “Possible objective effects” being synchronicities]
But, Dr. von Franz says something very interesting in the introduction to a work of Arabic alchemy:
Between the soul of the alchemists and the soul of matter there is a kind of participation mystique and the possibility of magic interaction. That is why the soul of incorruptible gold can impart immortality to the soul of the alchemist, or the soul of the alchemist can transform matter by finding the right creative attitude.
This is a great source for meditation in my opinion. Now, in the last year, I worked on a three-part note entitled Meaning and Jung’s Principle of Synchronicity: Reflections Inspired by Wolfgang Giegerich’s A Serious Misunderstanding: Synchronicity and the Generation of Meaning. This required great rigor on what Jung actually wrote regarding synchronicity and required me, in some parts, to consult the original German version of the paper (I am far from being fluent in German, but with a good dictionary, I can manage). In Giegerich’s paper (and in his Psychology of the Discipline for Interiority more generally), synchronicities have no meaning with respect to the individual who experiences it. It is a very hard view, but one which is largely justified were one to rely solely on the account of synchronicity Jung wrote in 1952. But, when you enlarge the context to different scholars (in the note, I focused solely on those who truly knew what Jung had written and intended – von Franz, Pauli, and Fordham) and their experiences of synchronicity, Giegerich’s view is challenged. Personally, while I love the notion of synchronicities having personal relation to the individual who experiences it, I also respect the rigor and discipline that Giegerich brings to remind us that meaningful in Jung’s paper stands for analogy, equivalence, correspondence, something that has existed for all eternity.
Of late, because I have delved in a bit on quantum entanglement in reading Quantum Nonlocality and Reality: 50 Years of Bell’s Theorem, I wonder if, in addition to anticipating the acausality we see in complexity science, it also anticipates certain aspects of entanglement. As you know, objects are entangled if they together comprise a total physical state which is preserved no matter where the objects are. Now, unlike synchronicity, entanglement can have genesis in time, and the recent science has demonstrated greater and greater control in creating entangled objects. Thus, we see connections among objects which exist independent of distance and which can long precede the observation of such objects.
Finally, let me end with your observation of accountability. Jung is alleged to have said “Beware of unearned wisdom.” Though I like this saying very much, I have never found this in his written works nor have I found evidence that he ever said it publicly. However, it does bring to mind a section within the Red Book where Jung writes “Beware of knowing what lies beyond yourself” and where his Soul gives wise counsel to Jung by saying “Be content and cultivate your garden with modesty.” I often discuss this when I talk about revelations due to the use of psychedelics, not the careful use in psychotherapy of Dr. Stanislav Grof, but its uncontrolled use. Once the veil of illusion is removed, one’s responsibility (because of that awareness) increases exponentially. Jung spent ~50 years shaping the stone from the liquid basalt of the Black Books.August 21, 2022 at 6:02 pm #74670
Yes, in my intuition quest, I did brush shoulders with magic, and then receded from, for reasons I knew not. But now am encouraged by this, especially after the quote you share from Jung’s Philemon:
“…know that magic is the negation of what you know…there is nothing for you to understand…Magic happens to be precisely everything that eludes comprehension…Magic is neither to be taught nor learned. It’s foolish that you want to learn magic.”
Furthermore, the part on sacrificing solace for the black rod, a sort of sacrifice of like for like. And this speaks not only to another depth psychological formula (or to me, at least is) that I have found through the work and to put it in one sentence: “That which is sacrificed to the underworld is given in consciousness a feature that is an aspect of, or a like-quality reaction to that which is sacrificed. Call it psychic investment. We see it in the Osiris/Horus myth, the Persephone myth, the Christ myth, I think any underworld-visitation myth. I’ve mentioned Glen Slater’s “Re-Sink the Titanic” (easily found online) essay in a former Mythblast and will again here because it is an exceptional piece in laying out the structures and dynamics of sacrifice in soulful (psyche-ological) and mythological contexts. And it lays out the exchange between underworld/unconscious and conscious life regarding what one sacrifices to the below—which also includes, in my opinion, that which we unintentionally lose, which his essay addresses in a theme which is basically: “the necessary sacrifice that is not consciously offered is imposed upon the individual by the unconscious.” In short, that if we don’t take responsibility for the exchange, the unconscious will. And from there he goes on into valuable terrain that addresses the likes of shadow and of neuroses. Like in perhaps my second-favorite line of Jung’s in which the neurosis that springs from repression is but a poor “substitute for legitimate suffering.” whose context is in distinguishing repression and suppression in his Yale Terry Lecture/Psychology and Religion).
And I appreciate your emphasizing alchemy, and that specific and very important aspect of the relationship to the matter being met, from the practitioner’s side, via the conscious projections and via conscious projections that unconscious projections of personal psychic content are also being, well, projected. These days I see projection, like wrong intuitions, not as negative (as you say: to divide them as negative and positive is missing the mark)—I see projections as fingertips, reaching out to touch the mystery, truth, hidden, etc.
On that note, you mention that “Latin alchemy declined by the 18th century, Jung suggested that one reason was that the outer form of alchemy was abandoned in favor of pure imagination.”
Also, intriguing… So it loses an aspect of concreteness, or that aspect is abandoned, of the matter, the vehicle of the metaphor, the primamateria, in this shift to “pure imagination.” And I hesitate to bring up “art,” here. Especially when one considers how vehemently Jung emphasized that his work was not art. But for me, as a poet, the “matter” that I create serves very much as that tangible catalyst/bridge/fingertips. And so much of the work for me is in attending to the sacred “as is” in the profane.
Also, and even on the level of meaning as personal significance, (which as you point out, is not the case in Wolfgang Giegrich’s work, nor in Jung’s employment of the word “meaning,” the removal of this aspect, like a control in the empirical method, I value its conscious separation from the investigation to be valuable in that it makes the “connection” paradoxically all the more intimate by stripping it of the personal meaning, it becomes universal and other, like the great imagery we see in astronomical events like nebulae and images of galaxies—as when I see such, my sense of personal meaning pretty much just comes down to “Where would I fit anywhere into something like that?!” Nonetheless, in (somewhat) removing my meaningful involvement from the equation, I am strangely left with an even a “profounder” sense of awe. And by awe, I mean being replete with personal significance due to the distance or separation—after all aloneness and longing are rich in personal meaning on the emotional/experiential level.
Or to put it in Jung’s Philemon’s terms a lack of solace. Or to employ Marie-Louise von Franz’s approach in her “On Divination and Synchronicity,” where she points out the distinctions between the classifying-aspect of science and divination techniques: where the former pushes “chance” out of the center (an empiric control) and the latter pushes the “control” out of the center and approaches chance/unique event as the center.
And a your insight, from Jung: “Beware of unearned wisdom” or of “knowing what lies beyond oneself.” And especially the advice “Be content and cultivate your garden with modesty” (and again, this theme is emphasized in the essay I mention above, and which if you’ve not read, I think you would quite appreciate. Your point highlights the alchemical approach of subjecting the contents in the vessel to moderate heat, and for long durations. For me, the deeper I go into all this content, the more that precept is emphasized. And even if only (knock on wood) some 80+ years, there is time. Or rather the quality of the time we have is enriched through the patience-attitude.
Regarding quantum entanglement, not long ago I began, and then had to shelf Edmund Musser’s “Spooky Action at a Distance” to get a better sense of this phenomenon. And now I am seeing my pattern, as with magic, of abandoning paths or leaving them. As a friend once told me “a lot of this life is choosing what we’re not going to do.” Even the lucky one’s only have some 80+ years…I’m keeping to the poetry path. That is essentially my frontier and the dimension that I roam in my efforts of making contact with all this content that we have been getting into.
It has been refreshing to dialogue with you, and to learn of approaches and observations from distinctly different from mine—i.e., science and mathematics. I often point out to those who set the sciences and humanities against each other, an example of faith/belief vs. emprirical/expository: Science complements or even directly builds faith—(yes, placebo, etc.) but more important, my knowing, based on whatever scientific study, that something-or-other has been conclusively shown through rigorous trials to have this or that effect, I then have deeper faith/belief in that something-or-other’s efficacy, nature, etc. I digress. I hope to cross paths again and compare notes from our distinct approaches, as I have learned/assimilated much from our dialogue. I’m not dissuading a response from you, just wanted to express all that as the window is closing and the myriad obligations accrue. Ah, what was that that I was so enthusiastically endorsing? Ah yes, patience.August 22, 2022 at 12:13 am #74669
Dr. Deininger – Let me begin by mentioning the fact that I had the good fortune to have Glen Slater as a professor when I attended Pacifica Graduate Institute (PGI). He had almost as great a gift with poetic expression as James Hillman did. Dr. Slater’s work is also important to me because he is an expert in both Analytical Psychology and Archetypal Psychology, something shared with other scholars I value such as David Tacey, Stanton Marlan, and Wolfgang Giegerich. And I remember him assigning the paper you cited, but it has been at least 10 years since I read it. The main thing I remember from his talk about that paper was that those who named the ship ‘Titanic’ were very likely unaware of the mythology behind the Titans. But, I would like to use this response to focus on sacrifice and amplify it a bit.
As it pertains to Jung’s work, several sacrifices come to mind. The first is the sacrificium done by the early church fathers Tertullian and Origen discussed in Psychological Types (CW 6), Tertullian the sacrificium intellectus and Origin the sacrificium phalli. The sacrifice here were their dominant or superior psychological functions in favor of their inferior functions (Tertullian: from thinking to feeling; Origen: from feeling to thinking). On December 18, 1913, in the Black Books Jung would likewise sacrifice his superior function with the murder of the hero Siegfried. Jung was initially in torment when he helped murder Siegfried. He wrote “I went through a torment unto death and I felt certain that I must kill myself if I could not solve the riddle of the murder of the hero.” Then Jung would later say that “the spirit of the depths came to me and spoke these words: ‘The highest truth is one and the same with the absurd.’ Jung wrote this statement saved him and that he had killed his intellect, deposed his superior function.
The second sacrifice I want to recall here is also in the Black Books. On January 12, 1914, Jung sees the aftermath of horror. He wrote (taken from the Red Book in section The Sacrificial Murder):
The valley looks so normal, its air smells of crime, of foul, cowardly deeds. … A marionette with a broken head lies before me amidst the stones – a few steps further, a small apron – and then behind the bush, the body of a small girl – covered with terrible wounds – smeared with blood. One foot is clad with a stocking and shoe, the other is naked and gorily crushed – the head – where is the head? The head is a mash of blood with hair and whitish pieces of bone, surrounded by stones smeared with brain and blood.
In the past, I have argued that the image that Jung presents to us of the sacrifice of the divine child to Evil is an undifferentiated, profoundly mysterious image of which the Christ sacrifice is but one of its infinite manifestations. Thus, it is clear that Christ has only given us a very partial view of Jung’s image and that there is much left in it to discover.
The final note on sacrifice comes from Jung’s seminar on Christiana Morgan’s visions. This concerns the emergence of Christianity and the need at that time of sacrificing the religious experiences of antiquity. I quote this in full below (see [A]), but this discussion by Jung made a very big impact on me when I first read it, and has been the subject of my reflections over the years.
As I write this, what comes to mind is that it is not enough when we sacrifice to do so consciously. When we sacrifice, we must allow ourselves to grieve for that which we have sacrificed (e.g., something of ourselves which we sacrifice for some deeper realization or opportunity for growth). And we must remember what we have sacrificed and why we have done it. I think that forgetting this leads to all sorts of trouble and deep suffering.
A. But as a whole, the average religious experience of antiquity was the reaching out into regions above man and below man, to the human divine and to the animal divine, and usually the antique religions only knew the substitute sacrifice, as you see it in the course of history. Originally human beings were sacrificed, and then animals, and then the fruits of the field, and finally in India the sacrifice has become a mere gesture, decorating the altar with flowers. Nowadays the sacrifice that we bring before the altar consists mainly of ten-cent pieces; it has completely degenerated. As a substitution for the animal and in order to make it quite serious, the early Christians should have returned to the human sacrifice, but they could not turn back the wheel of history so it was done symbolically-sacrificing the experience of man that reaches above and below him. Now we must know what that means. What did they really sacrifice? What would it produce if you should experience yourself as a being that reached from the lizard up to a winged divinity? … Through such an experience, the individual becomes entirely collective, he becomes a god. I become a Helios, you become a Helios, he becomes a Helios, we are all Helios. A man who was very sad and felt terribly alone once said to me that he cured himself by the idea that other people were sad too. I am sad, you are sad, we are all sad-so nobody is alone. The effect of the participation mystique is strengthening, it is really a return to the primitive condition. The Dionysians were seeking that effect; the idea was that the blood of Dionysus was circulating in every living being, that everything contained a piece of Dionysus; so if they were quite identical in every experience, they were in every thinkable form of existence, which means naturally a strengthening of the participation mystique. But of course it killed individuality. It was the first appearance of the being in man that reaches beyond man, but the shot went too far. They identified with it and were torn to pieces, they no longer existed, they were completely shattered, so nothing remained but the reminiscence of the divine moment. Therefore it became necessary for the sake of the individual to sacrifice the participation mystique. That they did not exist as human beings is shown by the fact that they had no human feeling. Think of all the horrible things they did in the circus! That would not have been possible if they had had a living feeling for humanity. Then, since they had no individuality, they had to worship one individual human being. Thus the Caesars were deified, and after death they became stars. The astrologer always discovered a new star in the heavens when a Caesar died. And in Egypt the pharaohs were deified. But we are all individuals, and the individual cannot live if he is completely denied, so there was a general sadness in those days, as the poets pointed out, and a tremendous desire for a redeemer. We have historical and literary evidence for that fact. Therefore the next sacrifice was of exactly the experience which was the real spiritual life of antiquity. That was completely abolished. … So for the pagan individual who was really religious to sacrifice his most holy experience probably brought about a terrible moral and spiritual conflict. They had to sacrifice that experience of divinity which is the real essence of religion. They had to accept the fact that we are all ugly and miserable, full of sins, before a humble poor God hanging on a cross. That was the thing they could not understand, and I can understand that they could not. I would not have accepted Christ then for anything in the world. But perhaps I would, I don’t know.
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