Earthpages.org

The Real Alternative


1 Comment

DVD Review – Archetype of the UFO

Archetype of the UFO - Reality Films

Title: Archetype of the UFO
Genre: UFO, Paranormal, Meta-Physics
Production Company: Reality Films

The psychiatrist Carl Jung said that UFOs might be real but a good percentage of eyewitness accounts may be psychological projections from the collective unconscious.

Jung was writing during a veritable UFO craze in the 1950s, when most UFOs were represented as disc shaped flying saucers. So Jung believed that a lot of UFO reports were projections of the mandala, an ancient Sanskrit word for “circle.” In its own religious and philosophical context, the mandala has spiritual and cosmological connotations, but for Jung it’s a basic psychological archetype.

Archetype of the UFO clearly borrows from Jung’s psychiatric theories. For Jung, an archetypal image (like a flying saucer) points to the meeting of genetic, cultural and spiritual aspects of the self. And as an archetype of wholeness, Jung often portrays the self as the center and circumference of a circle.

The self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of consciousness (CW 12, par. 44).

Archetype of the UFO, however, doesn’t just wrap up Jung’s ideas. It takes them further to the world of recent UFO theory and evidence.

This intelligent documentary looks at diverse metaphysical issues often passed over by lesser lights within the realm of ET, UFO and paranormal debates.

Emphasizing the possible misinterpretation of so-called physical sightings, Archetype of the UFO concedes that in many cases there may be no difference between inner and outer ET and UFO encounters. So this DVD isn’t just about little green men and flying saucers. Our beliefs about reality and truth are also thrown into doubt.

Most of the DVD features Nick Pope, a respected figure in UFO lore who’s appeared on CNN and other major networks. Pope and interviewer Philip Gardiner probe deep and compel us to think for ourselves about ETs, UFOs, mysticism, YouTube videos, disinformation, acclimatization, social power and the role of individual interpretation.

Many say it’s time for a proverbial course correction to save our planet in the 21st century. If so, Archetype of the UFO should be standard-issue for every seeker on the brink of making challenging discoveries about the self, society and beyond.

—MC


6 Comments

Ego, Archetype and Self: C. G. Jung and Modernity

The Temple of the Prim and a tribute to Carl Jung, who surely would have loved Second Life

The Temple of the Prim and a tribute to Carl Jung, who surely would have loved Second Life by Bettina Tizzy (aka Beverly Millson) via Flickr

This was written as a grad student at the University of Ottawa in 1993. Things have changed a lot since then. I tend to write simpler sentences and my beliefs have evolved. So I post this partly out of nostalgia, and partly for its sound presentation of Jung’s ideas.

When citing this essay please use one of the standard citation styles for online sources.

—MC

Elsewhere I have indicated that the work of C. G. Jung reveals his bent for constructing elaborate psychological theory on the basis of selective data. This charge was mingled with a somewhat reluctant admiration for the creation of a fictional system that seemed to surpass the usual, and I would add, artificial dictates of scientific rationalism. Like a political leader who after safely retiring exposes party corruption, Jung retrospectively concedes to being a myth maker in what was then, modern times.(1)

To continue from previous work, I will examine Jung’s concepts of ego, archetype and self to determine if the above charge of selectivity – not to preclude other potential difficulties – applies to these seminal components of his analytical model of the psyche.(2)

* * *

Jung speaks of ego as a highly continuous “complex of ideas which constitutes the centre of [one's] field of consciousness”(3) Ego is also referred to as the “point of reference”(4) of the psyche; its partly biological inheritance is offset by unconsciously acquired material.(5) Ego is not the entire psyche, but, according to Jung, it has a monumental role in the regulation and maintenance of psychic balance.(6) To illustrate precisely what is balanced by the ego, we must examine Jung’s constructs of archetype and self.

Archetype. It sounds impressive: definite, timeless, metaphysical; Jung made an astute choice by modifying this essentially Platonic idea, providing a certain scholarly credibility to work that was quite avant-garde for the medical science of the time. While Jung had not fully developed a definition of archetype for entry into Psychological Types (where we find most of his terms described), a survey of various statements he makes about archetypes renders their character fairly clear.

Jung’s mature thought demarcates the archetypal image from the archetype proper. As a sort of crystal-lattice structure inherent in all nature,(7) and thus a bio-culturally transmitted content of humanity’s collective unconscious,(8 ) the essence of the archetype is not amenable to representation.(9) Of the numerous archetypal structures, their diversity is represented by so many archetypal images and ideas,(10) and is individually experienced with the evocation of corresponding feeling values, these sometimes taking the form of ‘magical’ heightened awareness.

This ‘luminous,’ ‘spiritual’ aspect of archetypal experience may be either healing or destructive for the overall psyche, depending on its relation to the ego.(11) When made conscious by the ego, the archetypal image is positive; if not encapsulated by ego consciousness, it may be regressive.(12) Yet we have seen that Jung stresses the archetype, itself, to not be accessible to representation. Elsewhere he says that it cannot reach ego consciousness.(13) Granted Jung introduces the archetypal images and ideas, we must still ask: if the extra feeling value of the archetypal image or idea originates from the archetype, how is ego unaware of that archetypal source which it ‘feels’?

An additional function of the archetype is to organize images and ideas.

Archetypes, so far as we can observe and experience them at all, manifest themselves only through their ability to organize images and ideas, and this will always be an unconscious process which cannot be detected until afterward.(14)

From this it seems that the archetypal images and ideas are productions of the hidden, secret aspect of the archetypes. Now according to Jung, the self – our final concept to be illustrated – is itself an archetype.(15) And here Jung seems to say that the self can be anything. If an archetype, then it has an unmanifest, invisible aspect that cannot be grasped. That is, part of our own self must be inaccessible to ourselves. But that is not all. The self is alternately described as the “sum total of conscious and unconscious contents,”(16) a “complexio oppositorium,”(17) and as the “psychic totality of the individual.”(18 ) I do not object to Jung describing the self as illimitable, I do object, however, to his use of the term individual. Individuals cannot all be infinite. There must be some mark of difference among them. And Jung seems to agree with me: he himself says that the unconscious part of the self “cannot be distinguished from that of another individual.”(19)

Lets untangle this mess, and in so doing, try to be fair to Jung. It seems the problem lies in his notion of self as a “psychic totality.” For Jung really offers a two-tiered model of the psyche. The conscious part is individual, the unconscious collective aspect is impersonal. Jung would have done better to dismiss the “totality” component of his definition of self. As he did not, however, “self” is ambiguous and indistinct from a strictly theoretical standpoint. Why call it self if indeed it is everyone?

As I am not one to admire muddled, confused systems, Jung’s primary mentor Freud might suggest that unduly punitive washroom socialization resulted in my fixation at the latter’s ‘anal stage’ of psychosexual development.(20) Such a psychoanalytic interpretation may not have been entirely dismissed by Jung. Part of his self includes the personal unconscious, yet for Jung and quite unlike Freud, the personal unconscious is “more or less superficial;”(21) and Jung would not necessarily have given a psychosexual etiology(22) to an obsession with order. In fact, Jung would most likely view the above paragraph as a temporary intrusion of the “trickster” archetype – a mildly evil, sometimes positive archetype – into my ego consciousness. Recall that as mediator that strives for psychic integrity (see top to endnote 12), ego must balance good and evil,(23) these polarities producing a tension that for Jung is a universal law.(24) So we see two differing analyses – Freudian and Jungian – which perhaps points more to the role of investigation and interpretation of a situation than to the supremacy of either model.(25) But perhaps not. It is possible that one system explains events better than another. And if in our uncertainty we choose to define theory as an approach to an ever-changing, relative ‘reality,’ as do anti-theorists Paul Feyerabend(26) and Jean Baudrillard,(see endnote 25) we cannot escape the fact that even anti-theory is a type of theory.

Jung calls all this intellectual diaphaneity ‘rationalistic twaddle’ and claims, as do his adherents, that the value of his system lies in its practical application. While academic analysis implicity and expressly states one should not dispense with critical reflection, Jung also does not advocate the abandonment of critique. As Naomi Goldenberg points out:

According to Jungian lore, Carl Jung once said he was glad to be Jung and not a “Jungian.” As Jung he could be a thinker who tested ideas and modified theories to fit maturing insights and experiences. As a Jungian he would be pressured into defending dogma and clutching to ideas which had outlived their utility.(27)

* * *

With the basic explication of ego, archetype and self complete, I will now offer a more intensive appraisal, recalling that to be critical is to assess the positive and negative aspects of a given truth-claim. For the last half of the paper I will reverse the order and first look at self, then archetype, and lastly, ego.

Jung says the self as archetype is represented by the mandala, a sanskrit term meaning ‘circle.'(28 ) Part of the self, as noted, cannot be represented. This “psychoid” aspect is “identical in all individuals.”(29) The act of representing the self, such as in the visual mandala, brings order to chaos(30) as the tension of opposites is, if not permanently, at least to some degree reconciled.(31) Because the mandala (self) may imprison or protect the individual (ego),(32) it is like the archetypal mother–it absorbs or nurtures. Thus the mandala is also said to parallel the mother archetype.(33)

But Jung takes the mandala out of context. For mandala is an eastern construct specifically designed to both represent and aid in the abolition of the ego. Mandala refers to that beyond ego; it does not include ego as suggested by Jung. For instance, Lama Anagarika Govinda notes that the Tibetan ‘Mandala of Highest Bliss’ is “a vehicle of an all-embracing, imperishable wholeness, in which the limits of individual egohood do not exist any more.”(34) Likewise, W. Y. Evans-Wentz says the ‘Mandala of Liberation’ entails a “gradual dispersion of the psychic or mental atoms of the…thought body.”(35) Prior to Buddhism, the Hindu mandala refers to each of the ten books of the Rig Veda, which collectively are designed to return one to an undifferentiated original state that apparently existed prior to such dualisms as life/death, real/unreal, good/evil and, I should add, self/ego.(36) As a symbol of self and its relation to ego, Jung could have equated mandala with the absorbing, yet not the nurturing aspect of his mother archetype. This self-mother-mandala triad provides an excellent example of unwarranted and selective cross-referencing within the exposition of Jung’s theory.

Previously I have argued that Jung confuses the asian atman with his definition of libido.(37) To complicate matters, Jung seems to equate atman with his concept of self.(38 ) Thus perhaps not in the way Jung constructs quaternities, we may draw from his work our own analogical foursome: self-mother-mandala-libido. What else will he add to the list?

Archetypes, as I have noted, have two faces. One face is forever turned away, essentially supramundane and inaccessible to women and men; the other expresses various healing and destructive images and ideas into mundane psychological reality. But archetypes need not take a human or animal form. For cohesiveness, we will look at Jung’s views on Ufos, specifically on flying saucers, for in their circular shape they may be likened to the mandala symbol. In this connection we should note that for Jung flying saucers were the quintessential Ufos(39) and something of a pop phenomenon in the 1950’s: the pre-Star Wars/Star Trek era of modernity in which Jung’s writings on the subject are located.(40)

In flying saucers, then, we have an archetype that Jung says, by virtue of its shape, is analogous to the mandala,(41) and by implication, the self.(42) Belief in, or dreams of the saucers, like any archetypal formation, represents a double-edged desire for individuation(43) in combination with a fear for personal destruction: Alien inhabitants of the saucer could be benevolent, benign or malicious. Likewise, the journey to mandalic totality (to use Jung’s selective interpretation) has potential danger in that immense and equally tumultuous psychic forces may be unleashed from the collective unconscious, which if not successfully integrated by consciousness, could lead to psychic ruin–recall the absorbing, also referred to as the ‘devouring’ mother archetype as the negative instance of the self.

If one, however, believed or dreamed of extraterrestrials as being neither helpful nor harmful, this for Jung would indicate a state of psychic stagnation–no loss nor advancement within the individuation process. And a belief or dream of pleasant aliens would suggest that one’s ‘yonder shore’ of the collective unconscious is about to guide the ego toward a new, more comprehensive ontology. I noted above that critique should be balanced, and here indeed we find a good example of Jung’s impressive ability to adapt his theoretical structures to the symbols and social imagination of his time. Not to imply that Jung is merely vying for popularity and personal recognition. His work is too thorough, thoughtful, and serious to be so summarily dismissed. But as suggested elsewhere, he also knew the professional legitimacy of his writing necessitated scrupulous selectivity; he thus displays great acumen for creating schematic ‘meaning’ out of a massive and diverse body of data, even if that data is liberally corralled into his analytic theory.(44)

This leads us to the problem of agency, identity and ego. Ego is said to emerge from the self; its relation to self is one of “moved to the mover.”(45) Although it may be subsumed by the archetypes, as in inflation, ego is also the real limit of the person.(46) Ego is not to be confused with the self; although Jung claims ‘ordinary’ persons, in ignorance, take ego as the entire psychological being. Not so for Jung. When ego is unaware of, or attempts to deny the self’s existence, the ‘sleeping giant’ of the unconscious(47) self may grumble mightily at any time. The result: psychic catastrophe.(48 ) That is, ego becomes assimilated by the self–a situation praised in eastern religious and cultural ideals, but not endorsed within the scientific materialism of western modernity.

Thus as mentioned at the outset, ego plays a tremendous role in Jung’s vision of the psyche. By balancing inner and outer realities, it serves to regulate both collective unconscious and collective conscious forces(49) (and implicitly, moral opposites of good and evil residing in the psyche and expressed in the sentiments and acts of external reality). Ego is, therefore, busy. So busy that Jung sees it as the high achievement of western humanity. Unlike the so-called ‘primitives,’ the egos of modern individuals are more differentiated and less luminous than those of their, as Jung would have it, cruder ancestors.(50)

Concerning luminosity and ego, two points should be made. First, Jung says even modern persons have egos surrounded by a “multitude of little luminosities.”(51) Their unconscious provides various shades and textures to ego consciousness. And considering everyone is variously configured as such, each possessing different ‘lights’ from the unconscious, we must ask how Jung is able to make sweeping statements regarding the ‘normal’ ego constitution of western women and men. To propose for the sake of argument two stereotypes, does an artist necessarily see and experience in the same manner as an astrophysicist? Jung would say no, of course.(52) While he humbly acknowledges being a lay-person and doctor who happens to be very well read, at times his lack of academic training (and rigour) shows. By analogy, Albert Einstein admits to being poor at math, and Jung’s achievement was perhaps made possible by the fact that he was not confined by corridors of acceptable thought. But in spite of this, certain unacceptable margins of vagueness and redundancy may be discerned in his writing.

Another issue to be raised concerning luminosity and ego is in their application to Jung’s so-called ‘primitives.’ Jung visited Africa and India, so unlike ethnocentrics such as Emile Durkheim – who never travelled to places written about – we would suspect him to be in a better position to understand the inhabitants of foreign societies. But right from the outset Jung envisions such ‘native cultures’ as possessing the stereotypical attributes of ‘primitive man,’ and while he shows some appreciation for indigenous cosmologies,(53) and even made some attempts to learn local languages prior to departures, he nevertheless seems to wear, as it were, his safari hat throughout his adventures into lands exotica. I mean to say, he never let his European side slip–perhaps because he truly showed tendencies towards racism.(54) Possibly Jung’s comments on the luminous primitive ego reflect in part his own fantasy world: a projection of Jung’s psychic contents to others.(55)

* * *

To conclude, in reviewing ego, archetype and self, it seems my suspicions have been further confirmed. Jung’s analogic method displays an almost artistic collage of seemingly related concepts; upon close and careful examination, however, we have seen that mandala is not taken in situ, but rather as Jung – consciously or unconsciously – chooses to portray it. Regarding Ufos, Jung provides a detailed psychological exposition after professing ignorance as to their actuality.(56) While he mentions (in passing) that exclusively psychological relationships to Ufos as archetypal images would not dismiss the possibility of genuine Ufos,(57) he nonetheless proceeds to systematically squelch any tinge of ambiguity as to the latter’s authenticity with an apparent certainty that makes us wonder: is Jung the open-minded investigator he claims to be, searching for knowledge on the basis of empirically demonstrable facts, or is he one of the truly great doctrinaires of modernity, holding fast to new dogma of his own design?

In all likelihood, he is probably both; and that, in Jung’s own fashion, would be consistent with the ‘unity of opposites’ motif postulated within his system. Whether such theoretical coherence arrived with or without ethical consequence remains open to various avenues of debate.(58 )

Endnotes

1) See my unpublished paper for the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, “Plumbing the Depths: Carl Jung, Freud and Hinduism.”

2) Until the entirety of Jung’s work is studied, forwarded conclusions must be tentative. This critique is based mostly on C. G. Jung, The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vols. 1-11.

3) C. G. Jung, Psychological Types in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 6, 425.

4) C. G. Jung, Mandala Symbolism from The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 9/1 par. 717.

5) C. G. Jung, “Analytical Psychology and Education,” The Collected Works of C. G. Jung Vol. 17, par. 169, cited in Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon: A Primer of Terms and Concepts (Toronto: Inner City Books, 1991: 49).

6) Jung, Mandala Symbolism, par. 563.

7) C. G. Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 8, 210.

8 ) C. G. Jung, Psychology and Religion in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 11, 50.

9) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 214. Jung seems to overlook the fact that the words he writes are a type of representation.

10) Ibid, 214.

11) Ibid, 205.

12) C. G. Jung, Civilization in Transition in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 10, 237.

13) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 213.

14) Ibid, 231.

15) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 11, 156.

16) Ibid, 82.

17) Here Jung refers to dialectical opposites of, for instance, good and evil, masculine and feminine, hatred and love. Ibid, 443.

18 ) Ibid, 156.

19) Ibid, 277.

20) As in my previous paper, “Plumbing the Depths,” time restraints necessitate reference to Freud via secondary sources. In this case: Lectures on Psychoanalysis for undergraduate course conducted by Dr. Donald Carveth, 1981-1982, York University, Toronto.

21) C. G. Jung, Four Archetypes from The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 9/1 par. 3; Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 291.

22) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 11, 349-350.

23) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 219.

24) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 11, 197.

25) As an extreme anti-theorist, Jean Baudrillard comments that good theory should lose its own meaning when “pushed to its conclusion” at the “limits of the text.” Jean Baudrillard, Forget Foucault/Forget Baudrillard (New York: Semiotext( ), 1987: 38 ).

26) See, for example, Paul Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (London: Humanities Press, 1975).

27) Naomi R. Goldenberg, “Reply to Barbara Chesser’s Comment on ‘A Feminist Critique of Jung,'” Signs (Spring 1978): 724.

28 ) Jung, Mandala Symbolism, par. 713.

29) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 436.

30) Jung, Mandala Symbolism, par. 645.

31) Ibid, par. 637.

32) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 11, 95-96.

33) Jung, Four Archetypes, par. 156.

34) Lama Anagarika Govinda, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism (New Delhi: B.I. Publications PVT Ltd., 1960: 166-171).

35) W. Y. Evans-Wentz ed., The Tibetan Book of the Dead, trans. Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960: 126, footnotes 1-3).

36) Troy Wilson Organ, Hinduism: Its Historical Development (London: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1974: 59, 76-77, 80).

37) Clark, “Plumbing the Depths,” 10.

38 ) C. G. Jung, Aion in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 9/2, 144, 194, 222.

39) Jung briefly notes that he cannot determine the falsity or truthfulness of numerous Ufo accounts. See Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 10, 309.

40) Star Wars and Star Trek introduced variously shaped interstellar crafts to the popular imagination.

41) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 10, 325.

42) William McGuire & R. F. C. Hull eds., C. G. Jung Speaking, Bollingen Series XCVII (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977: 414).

43) Jung’s concept that refers to the goal of psychic totality, differentiation and socio-environmental confluence. See Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 11, 258-259.

44) See Clark, “Plumbing the Depths,” 8-10.

45) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 11, 259.

46) Ibid, 470.

47) Which is nonetheless conscious of itself.

48 ) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 9, 24.

49) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 217-218.

50) Ibid, 189.

51) Ibid, 190.

52) In later work I will elaborate on Jung’s 4 by 2 model of the psyche, consisting of thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition, as well as introversion and extroversion.

53) Especially with the Pueblo Indians. See Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 10, 211; and C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, revised, ed. Aniela Jaffé, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Vintage Books, 1961: 250).

54) For example, he believes individuals of all the colonies of England are “slightly inferior,” and that “there are facts to support this view” (in America, this being the psychological influence of the “lax, “childlike” and “inferior” blacks). Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 10, 46-47, 121, 507-509).

55) We are indebted to Freud for the mechanism of projection; Jung also recognizes the primacy of projection and notes that archetypes are usually expressed through this process. Dr. Donald Carveth, Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1981-1982, York University, Toronto; See also, C. G. Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79) Vol. 7, 95.

56) Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 10, 309.

57) He utilizes the concept of ‘synchronicity’ to account for this. Ibid, 313. Unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this paper to do justice to this pivotal component of Jung’s schema.

58 ) Jung’s theoretical extrapolations reveal not only racist, but strong sexist tendencies. While apparently progressive, saying women should be regarded on the basis of “merit not gender,” Jung also exemplifies the expected ‘men are men, women are “girls”‘ mentality of his day. Jung, The Collected Works, Vol.7, 25; and Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 8, 286. Concerning his sexist views on rape, and for other examples of extreme sex-role stereotyping, see Jung, The Collected Works, Vol. 9/2, 15-17; and Jung, The Collected Works Vol. 10, 117-119. On marriage, he claims i) all women desire children and ii) are attracted only to one man while married men are naturally attracted to many women; at the same time, however, iii) women aim to “loosen” the marriage structure. Ibid, 101 (i), 42 (ii), 132 (iii). Jung also assumes all lesbians are interested and/or active in gender/political issues by categorizing lesbian love as a stimulus for women to organize for increased social empowerment. Ibid, 99. Lastly, Jung’s professional practice entailed having sex with at least two of his female clients. Naomi Goldenberg, “Looking at Jung Looking at Himself,” Soundings, 73/2-3 (Summer/Fall 1990): 395.

Copyright © Michael W. Clark, Ph.D. All rights reserved.


1 Comment

Jung Today: Reflections on Marion Woodman

Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst and Author

Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst and Author

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2010. All rights reserved.

Marion Woodman is an influential Jungian analyst and author whose publications include Addiction to Perfection and the popular The Pregnant Virgin.

Archetypes and Power

In a post-9/11 address about Jungian theory and terrorism, Woodman says the concept of the archetype is “bandied about” today and tries to clarify this elusive concept.

As the chromosomes are to the body,” she says, “archetypes are to consciousness.”

Woodman draws an analogy by asking us to imagine we’re holding a magnet underneath a piece of paper which has iron filings on top. When the magnet moves, the filings move along with it.

And so it is, she says, with archetypes and ego-consciousness.

The magnet below the paper represents the archetypal forces that have a dramatic impact on our daytime outlook. Or they may have an impact if we don’t recognize and tame their power.

Jungians believe that healthy ego development entails learning how to come to grips with the archetypes, thereby increasing mastery over one’s entire inner-outer environment.

For Woodman, the vast majority of Western peoples are blinded by a limiting Freudian worldview. Jungians tend to see Freud’s theories as a product of constricted psychic energy, contributing to an inadequate understanding of self and others.

Once we become aware of the archetypes, Woodman says life takes us into entirely new realms. We leave the proverbial river of Freudian theory and embark on the sea of Jungian psychology.

As Jungian Daryl Sharp once put it, the new joys and dangers of the archetypal ocean are quite real but some succumb to its destructive forces if the ego can’t keep step with a host of mysterious, invisible powers.¹

Conflict, Projection and Difference

Einstein once said, “everything in our world has changed except our thinking.”

Woodman relates this aphorism to global terrorism. While it’s pretty clear that humanity is essentially one big family, in terrorism and times of war our limited attitudes, influenced by archetypal energies, insist on projecting the embodiment of pure evil onto some other person or group.

This is Woodman’s and the general Jungian take on conflict. But it might be a bit simplistic. Could not one person or political regime, for instance, be more destructive, imbalanced and oppressive than another?

A further point for debate arises with the perception, sometimes advanced within Jungian circles, that all spiritual paths are the same.

Jung, himself, stressed individual difference. He also saw important differences among Eastern and Western religions.² While Jung encouraged individuality and knowledge (as gnosis), many of his adherents seem to have fallen into a convenient Jungian paradigm.

Just like the Christian churches Jung once criticized, some – but certainly not all – contemporary Jungians tend to conform to ideas and discursive patterns established by the Grand Master, himself, almost as if Jung were a holy and infallible guru.

Jung, however, wrote in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections that he didn’t “have things fixed.” As a psychiatric pioneer, he blazed a trail through the psychological underbrush. And it’s a task for posterity to clear new conceptual pathways appropriate for the 21st century.

Along these lines, Jung apparently once said, “I am glad to be Jung and not a Jungian.” As a Jungian he’s restricted by convention. But as Jung he’s free to revise according to his ongoing thoughts and observations.

Watered-down?

Another impression I got from Woodman’s address is that she, like many Jungians, portrays a sort of watered-down version of Christianity.

Woodman implies that the supposed past glory of the Christian Church rested solely on the inspiration of sublime art and architecture. The Church, she says, once conveyed the numinous but only a long time ago. And she ignores all those who say God’s grace uplifts them within the framework of the Christian Church–not just 500 years ago, but today.

On this point Woodman seems to liken the aesthetic appreciation of statues, paintings and stained glass windows to the indwelling power of God.

But is appreciating created beauty really equivalent to encountering the power of God?

It’s easy to stereotype Christians as one great body of Bible-thumping fanatics or, perhaps, as regimented automatons too insecure to experience God outside of the authoritarian but reassuring confines of ecclesiastical structure.

But these common caricatures ignore the very real possibility that some Christians may be called into and flourish within traditional religious frameworks, as suggested by figures like St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Francis of Assisi and Thomas Merton.

Moreover, we might ask if anyone can, indeed, exist without some kind of system in place. Perhaps the real challenge for our post-9/11 world is to understand and appreciate how various networks interact and potentially mirror our respective human strengths and weaknesses.

With this approach we might collectively identify and redirect the destructive, obsessed or deranged in the global community, thereby encouraging the much sought after qualities of progress, peace and love.

Notes

1. This reference is from an address by Sharp. If I remember correctly, the title is “Jungian Psychology Today: The Opportunity and the Danger.” When I recover the hard copy I’ll cite it fully–it’s currently deep within my library.

2. (a) Compare to Moojan Momen’s perspective as outlined in The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach, p.114, posted at http://www.vexen.co.uk/books/momen_tpor.html. Momen overlooks the possibility that an actual being, Mary, chooses to appear in Portugal while another being, Kali, chooses to appear in India.
(b) And consider Geoffrey Parrinder’s comment: “The wise man may not practise the same [magical or religious] cults as his brothers, but he can regard them tolerantly as helpful at their level, while he himself seeks the truth about human life and the universe according to the best knowledge and insight available” (Parrinder, ed. Man and His Gods: Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions, London: Hamlyn, 1971, p. 21). Parrinder arguably doesn’t acknowledge the scenario where the outside observer knows next to nothing of the subtle dynamics, spiritual knowledge, graces and complexities of another person’s cult. Indeed, the person inside the cult may see the outside observer as a presumptuous spectator who thinks they understand when, in fact, they don’t.

Share


Leave a comment

Review – The Magick of Solomon: Lemegeton Secrets Revealed (DVD)

Reality Films

Do you believe in magic? Miracles? Is there a difference?

The answer to these questions will most likely depend on one’s beliefs and experiences.

The Magick of Solomon: Lemegeton Secrets Revealed is an engaging instructional video by Carroll “Poke” Runyon of the Church of the Hermetic Sciences.

The film attempts to integrate a variety of religious and esoteric traditions by demonstrating an elaborate pagan ritual accompanied with a learned commentary.

For Runyon, it seems there’s no clash between his style of magic and genuine miracles, although he and his fellow Church members would probably make a distinction between their form of soul magick (with a “k”) and stage magic (without a “k”).

The DVD is a remastered and enhanced version of the original VHS of 1996, to include some older material from the 1970s and a commentary from 2003.

Runyon holds a Masters Degree in anthropology and begins the video with a disclaimer, warning of the inherent dangers of causally meddling with the potent forces that might be evoked by watching it.

And rightly so.

C. G. Jung, whom Runyon refers to, speaks to the power of the archetypes and cautions that delving into the collective unconscious without the appropriate psychological preparedness to integrate it within ego consciousness could result in mental disruption, perhaps even psychosis.

At the beginning of this movie I, a believing Christian, felt slightly uneasy. I’ve had minimal experience with paganism, only dabbling in Tarot cards in my youth and, years later, watching slick TV programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural.

After the first 25 minutes, however, my unease turned to fatigue. The DVD wasn’t dull by any stretch of the imagination but I probably had to enter the dream state to better understand why it was impinging on my comfort zone.

So I paused the disc and had a nap. On waking I was ready to go and, the second time around, found The Magick of Solomon absorbing but not uncomfortable.

This DVD may not be quite as slick as Buffy or Supernatural, but it does provide viewers with a penetrating look inside an alternative religion.

The temple, itself, is devoted to Astarte, a deity with a long list of analogues, to include the Greek Aphrodite and the Roman Venus.

Its rites are premised on the belief that wisdom may be gained by first invoking heavenly angels, and then evoking lower, possibly demonic powers. The rationale, in keeping with Jung’s model, is that higher angels protect and help the aspirant to integrate the lower demons, which essentially reside within the self.

At this stage Runyon differentiates the terms invoke and evoke. To invoke is to call on heavenly agencies from above and outside oneself, while to evoke is to activate the dark powers of the collective unconscious within the self.

From this we see that Runyon believes in heavenly beings – in particular, the four traditional archangels and their legendary mediators – while proposing that some demons are merely the result of mankind’s subjugation of pagan deities to the collective unconscious.

I found this cosmology a bit confusing because Runyon also treats the lower realm entities with all the awe and respect one would accord a real, independent deity.

Again, this brings to mind Carl Jung’s schema which raises the same question: Do the archetypes of the collective unconscious enjoy an independent existence or do they simply exist as a repressed part of ourselves?

Let’s also not forget that the “unconscious” is just an idea, a point which this video might have more thoroughly explained.

Runyon, himself, is articulate and charismatic. He seems to have a good grasp of the scholarly aspects of magic and esoterica. Moreover, his prior vocation as a salesman serves him well.

I don’t mean this disrespectfully. We live in a predominantly consumer-driven culture and it would be naïve to suppose that most organized religions don’t engage in some kind of promotional activity geared toward the twofold agenda of fund-raising and facilitating conversions.

There’s nothing wrong with fund-raising strategies provided that a house of worship believes in the goods, services and overall message it’s promoting and, more important, it’s not willfully deceiving, harming or manipulating vulnerable individuals.

After all, in liberal democracies we are free to choose.

Another similarity between The Church of the Hermetic Sciences and some traditional Churches becomes evident when Runyon suggests that his magickal synthesis is authentic and safe while a rival sect of former disciples is apparently proliferating dangerous doctrines and engaging in equally hazardous activities.

Runyon then says these former disciples have opened a “Pandora’s Box” of evil that his methods can effectively quell.

Shades of the old Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation?

Whether or not one envisions Runyon’s techniques as a key to psycho-spiritual insight, The Magick of Solomon: Lemegeton Secrets Revealed is certainly different and informative. It should be of considerable interest to those wanting to learn about a new Church that blends ancient legend, belief and practice with some recent concepts from Carl Jung’s analytical psychology.

–MC

Share


1 Comment

Post-Rational Leadership, Lao Tzu, and the Tao Te Ching

ep_buythebook-2-5x1-8-125.jpg“Post-Rational Leadership, Lao Tzu,
and the Tao Te Ching

From: THE WAY OF LEADING PEOPLE: UNLOCKING YOUR INTEGRAL LEADERSHIP SKILLS WITH THE TAO TE CHING

by Patrick Warneka and Timothy H. Warneka

http://www.wayofleadingpeople.com

Lao Tzu, or Master Lao as we in the West would call him, was a Chinese sage who lived around 600 B.C. and whose life story has faded into semi-mythical status. As legend recounts, Master Lao, renowned for his wisdom, repeatedly refused to write any of his insights down, mistrusting the confinement of the written word. Toward the end of his life, saddened by people’s unwillingness to live in accordance with natural law, Master Lao decided to retreat into the wilderness. Heading toward what is now Tibet, Master Lao passed through one of the many gates in the Great Wall of China. A gatekeeper, Yin Xi by name, persuaded old Lao Tzu to record his teachings. The result was the 5000-character Tao Te Ching (pronounced Dow Duh Jing)-one of the most important texts in human history. This book, the title of which translates roughly as “The Book of How Life Works,” is an instruction manual for living in accord with what Chinese philosophy calls Tao, the ultimate ground of being-the Eternal.

In his wisdom, Master Lao understood something 2500 years ago that we in the West are only now just beginning to appreciate: that rational thinking is not the final stage of human development. While the Western world has long held rational thought to be the epitome of human development, new research is in agreement with Master Lao, pointing to other ways of thinking beyond (read: better than) rationality. Scientists are eagerly investigating these newly identified “post-rational” ways of knowledge, describing them by many names: contemporary philosopher Ken Wilber speaks of vision-logic; Malcolm Gladwell refers to “the power of thinking without thinking” with the adaptive unconscious; in the Emotional Intelligence literature the movement is categorized under several names. Indeed, this post-rational stage of knowing have been under observation for some years: Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung and his Jungian followers call it intuition; the great martial artist Bruce Lee referred to this higher stage of awareness as “It”; and Zen masters throughout the ages simply use the term mushin (literally, no mind, as in, “beyond rational thought”). For interested readers, current research into post-rational ways of knowing can be found in Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling Blink; Gary Klein’s The Power of Intuition; Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology & Spirituality; and Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee’s Primal Leadership, among others. For an actual experience of post-rational development, practice Aikido, or Yoga, or T’ai Chi, or meditation, or a similar bodymind practice for five to ten years … or more.

Post-rational awareness is beyond words: paradoxical, mysterious and powerful. If post-rationality could be easily conveyed in words, there would be no need for the strict meditative practices of Zen, for the sweat and exertion of Aikido or Yoga or countless other body-centered practices. Written over 2500 years ago, the Tao Te Ching is one of the earliest recorded attempts to describe this post-rational way of living in harmony with the world. Wisely, Master Lao understood that, where prose fails, poetry succeeds. While prose is unable to fully capture these post-rational developmental levels, poetry’s strength emerges by not even trying. By allowing space for metaphors to expand, poetry taps into the wisdom of post-rationality in ways that allow our rational minds to glimpse that higher level of knowing. Since Master Lao wrote most of the Tao Te Ching in poetry, the present authors have tried to stay true to his legacy.

Today, more than ever, leaders need the wisdom of Lao Tzu. Master Lao recognized the importance of personal transformation for leaders. Simply reading new material or being exposed to new ideas is not enough for today’s leaders. In order to be successful in today’s global economy, leaders must have the courage to change–to step forward into the post-rational realm, thereby becoming better leaders … and better people. The human race is at a crucial crossroads, and nothing else will suffice in today’s world.


1 Comment

Review – Legend of the Serpent: The Biggest Religious Cover Up in History (DVD)

Reality Films

Reality Films

Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake…

–The End (The Doors)

Anyone interested in the work of C. G. Jung is bound to encounter a great deal of serpent symbolism.

Jung was fascinated with alchemy, among other things, and the old alchemists are often depicted in drawings and woodcuts as somehow transformed into almost freakish, hybridized creatures.

This is all imagery, of course. The alchemists didn’t undergo strange physical changes, not observable ones at any rate.

But they did, so many believe, endure and ultimately overcome sometimes trying and bizarre experiences on an inner pilgrimage toward wholeness.

Adam McLean from The Alchemy Web Site nicely sums up the Jungian attitude on spiritual alchemy, the union of psychological opposites and the serpent.

The hermaphrodite stands upon a mound below which is a triple-headed serpent, each head of which is mutually feeding upon the others. This symbolizes that the Spirit, Soul and Body are becoming united and penetrate each other, though this being still polarized in the form of the serpent (the head and tail polarity), indicates that final harmonization of these realms is yet to be achieved (Source: The Alchemy Web Site).

Enter author and film director Philip Gardiner, whose Legend of the Serpent: The Biggest Religious Cover Up in History looks at orthodox and esoteric serpent symbolism with a decidedly gnostic bent.

Gardiner’s impressive historical and anthropological studies and on-site travels take the viewer back through time and around the globe as he explores the ubiquitous presence of archetypal serpent symbols.

From belief systems including the Gnostics, Sufis and Jews; the religious art of India, Egypt, China, Greece and Rome; right through to the precolonial Americas and many other cultures and places too numerous to mention here, this video is a fantastic ride for serpent motif enthusiasts.

One could pay thousands of dollars traveling to the dusty archives and remote temple locations that this film brings to light. The DVD also comes with bonus features on snake etymology, symbolism, a colorful snake handbook and an outtake with material not mentioned in the main program.

Thankfully, Legend of the Serpent isn’t one of those reckless, trippy videos suggesting we drug ourselves silly with hallucinogenic mushrooms to conjure up altered states, self-administer pure snake venom for healing or ceremonially dance with poisonous snakes like the old American folk hero, Billy Jack.

Legend of the Serpent is stone cold sober, and that’s what makes this innovative documentary unique and effective.

While watching Legend of the Serpent I couldn’t help but get the impression that this movie, itself, is something of an archetype for even greater things to come. Not only does the DVD take us on a journey through the past. Quite possibly it points to something even more important.

Where we’re headed.

–MC


2 Comments

Reincarnation: A New Look at an Old Idea – Part 3

Divide : Flashback by Lâm HUA

Divide : Flashback by Lâm HUA

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Flashbacks and Interpretation

Some believers in reincarnation say they’ve had so-called flashbacks of past lives, sometimes through the allegedly scientific process of past-life regressions, a kind of hypnosis.

The main difficulty here lies in the believer’s interpretation of their experience. What may seem like sure evidence of reincarnation to some might be explained differently by others.

Alternate interpretations of the flashback experience take two main forms–empirically vs. spiritually based.

Empirically based explanations suggest that, instead of encountering a past life, a person having a flashback might actually be engaging in cryptomnesia and confabulations.

Spiritually based alternatives to the theory of reincarnation of are three main types. Essentially, spiritually based hypotheses suggest that, instead of seeing a past life, a person is

  1. Intuitively connecting with another human being
  2. Sensing the presence and memories of a deceased person
  3. Being deceived by a demonic presence that mimics a deceased person

The philosopher C. D. Broad’s idea of the psychic factor develops the second of the above.

Essentially a Western retelling of the Buddhist idea of skandhas,¹ Broad believes that at death certain mental qualities, if not the total personality, exist for a time to eventually dissipate into nothingness. This is what he calls the psychic factor. If sufficiently clustered, these hopes, fears, dispositions, desires and memories attach themselves to another person.

Broad believes the psychic factor could also associate with an embryo, having a vital influence on human personality development.²

Genes and Social Conditioning

DNA - Blue by Spanish Flea

DNA - Blue by Spanish Flea

Another way to explain flashbacks from so-called past life regressions is becoming increasing visible. This has to do with DNA and the idea of ancestral imprinting. The idea is that certain ancestral memories are inherited through our genetic code.

To this day the precise neuropsychological mechanisms of memory remain unclear. Until memory is fully understood, it seems reasonable to ask whether certain memories are genetically transmitted.

The psychiatrist Carl G. Jung recognized this possibility:

Besides these collective deposits, which contain nothing specifically individual, the psyche may also inherit memory acquisitions of a definite individual stamp.³

An additional question is whether environmental stimuli could trigger the recall of genetically inherited memories.

Researchers generally agree that memory doesn’t work like a digital camera. Memory is almost always an imaginative reconstruction of past events. Accordingly, our interpretation of genetic memories would likely be colored by psychological factors and socially conditioned beliefs.

A Holistic Model

Stained Glass on Floor by Eric in SF

Stained Glass on Floor by Eric in SF

Life is often bigger than any single theory or explanation. And it’s tempting to try to combine several perspectives into a unified theory that would look at physiological, psychological, environmental and psi factors contributing to the belief in past lives.

For instance, could our genetic blueprint act as a filter that facilitates, colors or hinders an encounter with souls, spirits and other paranormal influences?

By way of analogy, our genetic code could have the same kind of effect as a stained glass window. Only certain paranormal influences and numinosities4 would be permitted to enter consciousness, just as only some colors of the spectrum pass through a stained glass window.

After these influences and numinosities have passed through the genetic filter, psychological traits and social conditioning would play a significant role in determining how one responds to them, both intellectually and emotionally.

In short, we usually try to make sense of unconventional experiences according to who we are and what we believe at a given moment. This depends, in large part, on our psychological makeup and worldview.

A holistic model does not rule out but embraces the possibility of spiritual influences acting on the psyche. But it does not assume these influences are evidence of past lives. Nor does it assume the influences are ethically good or conducive to mental health. Instead, external spirits or powers acting on the individual are seen as just that–they are not necessarily traces from ‘past lives’ nor authentic dimensions of the person experiencing them.

This is not a particularly new idea. In fact, some 2,000 years ago biblical writers earnestly warned fellow seekers about deceptive spiritual influences:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

What is new is our increased knowledge of physiological, psychological and social factors that might underpin and make a person vulnerable to spiritual and self deception.

¹ Buddhist belief posits five skandhas, or aggregates of attachment which together form the total personality. Impermanent and subject to change, they are said to be the source of all suffering.

² See John Hick, The Philosophy of Religion, second edition, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1973: 114.

³ Carl Jung cited in Gerald S. Blum, Psychoanalytic Theories of Personality, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964: 24.

4 Numinosity is not a common word but it’s a good one. For its definition follow these links: http://epages.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/numinosity/ and http://earthpages.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/numinous/

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Copyright © Michael Clark. All rights reserved.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,457 other followers