Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Power or love

This is somewhat of a continuation (or may be elaboration) of the post "Relationships and individuation" - I saw the following quote while reading:
Power and eros exclude each other totally. Jung writes, "Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking." You cannot combine the two; it's either one or the other. Jung said that no man can ever assimilate or even get to know what the anima is before he has overcome power-schemes in connection with feminine contacts, purely sexual drive or purely aesthetic considerations. As long as a man looks at a woman for sex or for her good looks, or maybe for her bank account, there is no question of love and therefore no question of getting to know what the anima could even be.

For a woman it would be if she falls off course in her search for the truth. You see, the animus in its positive essence is a healing spirit, a spirit of truth. So if a woman falsifies her inner search for truth by getting enmeshed in power games, or by pursuing a man simply because he has money, the same catastrophe will ensue. For example, you go to university and have to write a thesis. You have an idea for that thesis but you know it's one your professor will not accept. If you don't write about that idea because it is more important to you to get good grades than to write what you believe is true, then you have betrayed your truth - just as a man betrays his love by having an eye on the woman's bank account. Again it's power. . . .

Seen in the light of the anima problem of men, the question ultimately becomes that of having to to decide between love - one's heart, one's feelings - and social status or some other worldly value.
This is followed by the following quote by Jung
It is really the individual's task to differentiate himself from all others and stand on his own feet. All collective identities, such as membership in organizations, support of "isms," and so on, interfere with the fulfillment of this task. Such collective identities are crutches for the lame, shields for the timid, beds for the lazy, nurseries for the irresponsible.
(1, p. 118)

This passage struck me as important. My first thought, of course, was in relation to my tendency to "push" those I cared for to do what I thought best for them, and how that was at heart a power play, even though it was done with the best of intentions. 

On a purely personal level the conflict between power and love, and which one one chooses, is at the heart of our everyday lives. Which is it going to be? How are we going to approach others and our lives? But the question of power or love goes beyond that. It's a question of the attitude one takes to one's entire life, everything we do. Our very goals. It's always a question of intention: Why am I doing this? Am I doing it to advance myself, or because I feel deep down that it's the right thing to do?

The question of which we choose, power or love, strikes at the heart of the conflict between the ego and the Self... and also why the ego must die. It has to die to it's desires for "worldly" success. And it has to die before it can be reborn; if the ego cannot survive without the Self - cannot even exist without the Self, as the ego is merely a structure which grows out of the ground of the Self - then the Self cannot fully flower without the ego and the ego's consciousness. But in order for the ego to be able carry out this task it has to die and be reborn.

Books referenced
  1. von Franz, Marie-Louise, Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales.

Monday, December 26, 2011

"Psychic warfare"

Ok, maybe "warfare" is a bit strong but I had an interesting experience over the weekend. Went home for Christmas and people were exceptionally asshole-ish, as is usual around the holidays. I figure it's the stress that turns your ordinary jerk New Yorkers into turbo jerks. And I had a particularly unpleasant experience with this woman. I couldn't get it out of my heart... for days! Finally, last night I did a meditation where I killed her image in me, but I carefully put myself in a absorbing black sphere so none of the psychic energy could leak out. This was purely to destroy the part of her I had in me.

This morning I still had some of her poison in me and it reminded me of what I've been reading in von Franz's books about witchcraft. Magic* is where you use the powers of the unconscious for personal gain; like to win the lottery, or beating a co-worker for a promotion. It's a misuse of sacred powers that exist within us to connect us with the Self.
[An analysand] reported that she had done an active imagination . . .  against (!) one of her acquaintances. This person had annoyed her, and she had indulged in a fantasy in which she had beheaded her, turned her on the rack, spat on her, and so on. In this way, as she put it, she wanted to "abreact her anger." . . . Such a misuse of the imagination is very dangerous. Especially to people with schizoid tendencies, it may be very attractive. However, it by no means get them out of their mess, but on the contrary makes them vulnerable to psychosis. Imagining as a form of "love sorcery" or in service to one's own delusions of grandeur (heroic fantasies) belong to the same category. Wish-fulfillment fantasies have less than nothing to do with real active imagination. The girl whose case is described above [not the analysand who misused her imagination, another woman] had no intention whatever of influencing the old woman. She only wanted to get rid of the destructive influence of her own affect. This ethical purity of intention is one of the most important basic prerequisites for any active imagination
(1, p. 155)

Witchcraft*, on the other hand, are those poisonous words that we shoot at each other in order to wound.
You have all heard the phrase, "to needle someone." Now what is it to needle someone? Needling, or picking on someone, generally has to do with stinging that person's complexes; one needles people, for instance, by making stinging personal remarks. And if needling remarks are to work, you have to make them about something you know the person has a complex for. Whee! - they hit the ceiling! That is the colloquial meaning of the term "needling."

There are witchlike women who love to do that (and some men too!) - they spy around on people's complexes and then turn up to make personal remarks about them, thinking that if they aim right the person will become helpless. And this does happen when  complex is hit. Then you can't answer, you are confused and the needle witch goes on. She aims a stream of directed psychic energy onto your complex.

Ninety per cent of the essence of archaic witch work and curses that made people ill was made up of the same kind of activity. In my book on projection, I talk at length about projectiles that make one ill. In the oldest and most universal form of witch work, the illnesses were produced by either needlelike thorns or pointed stones or anything shaped so that it could be used for pricking. Through these needlelike objects illnesses were sent by evil demons or evil people to other people. And most archaic medical cures amount to finding out the place where the person was pricked or needled, and then having the medicine man suck it out. . . .

So there are needles that make one ill, needles that make one sleep, and there are needles which prick one into confusion. When you make personal remarks aimed at a person's complex, you can completely knock them out. In a way, that is also giving them a sleeping needle, for they are no longer composed mentally. They can't answer your questions. They are confused. They are pushed, for the moment, into the unconscious and made helpless. . . .  Some use it unconsciously and some use it consciously, but always this bringing out of a needling remark at a certain moment is the thing that throws the other off balance. Some people are real wizards in that way. But they are only putting to work the same forces that spring up by themselves in the unconscious.
(2, p. 52)

We've all met people - usually woman or gay men - who have this poisonous ability to wound with words, and that kind of woman was what I think I came up against over the weekend. Either that, or it was a shadow projection from within me that got me with it's poison.

For introverted thinking types like me, our nemeses are extroverted thinking types (like Judy). And they're experts at this kind of "witchcraft." The last time I went out with her I noticed myself starting to feel bad about myself - like I was a hopeless failure - and I wondered where on earth those feelings had come from. I went back in my mind and realized it was when she made a horrible, demeaning remark so casually while we were waiting to use the bathroom. And I thought back and realized she'd made another one before that. And that she has a habit of doing this... I thought back to all the times she had said things, cruelly casually, that destroyed my sense of self. And I thought about how none of the friends I chose treated me like that.

Our opposite type is the one who carries our shadow, and not only does she carry my shadow... I carry hers. When my gauche, over-enthusiastic inner lioness comes out she responds with a witch needle. I don't know if she does it to stop something that's making her feel uncomfortable, or it's an automatic reaction to seeing someone she can prey on, like when a dog sees a squirrel it instinctively chases it down and kills it. Right now, I'd go with the latter - it seems that unconscious extroverted thinking types instinctively act in such a way as to raise up themselves, including by pushing those around them down. Then again, it should be remembered that my shadow is still pretty dark, so my ability to be objective is poor.

From her appearance and manner I'm pretty sure this woman was also an extroverted feeling type. And she just had to toss one extra needling comment before leaving, for no other reason that I could see but to wound. My response to this (or maybe it's more accurate to say my Animus' response) was to think of cutting remarks at her, sending my own needle right back at her. Fighting fire with fire, so to speak. But remembering what von Fanz had written, I realized what I needed was to deal with this as a shaman, not a witch. I'm still thinking about this whole topic but my impression is that trying to fight witchcraft with witchcraft just gets you mired in hate and power tripping, the things of an unbalanced ego. What I needed was to get that needle out and heal from the wound. Maybe destroy her image within me, but not in such a way as to affect the real woman, only to destroy whatever it was inside me that made me vulnerable, both to being wounded and to reacting with witchcraft.

What I ended up doing was a mental ritual, again using the dead black sphere so that everything happened inside of me and there was no chance of any of this getting out and going to the woman or anyone else. I saw the woman, small enough for me to hold on my hand. Then I surrounded her with a mirrored sphere. She spat out her poisonous arrows and they went ricocheting around the inside of the bubble, passing through her again and again, until there was nothing left but blood and rags of flesh and bone. Then I purified the remains with water, air, earth and finally fire until there was nothing left. After that, I created a mirrored bubble around myself, but with the mirror on the outside of the sphere, so that any other attacks bounce off me. I'm not one hundred percent sure this is the best thing to do - maybe I'm cutting myself off from life. And I can heal myself now, so maybe I should remove it. I'm not sure right now so I have to think about it.

One thing was that I didn't actually need to take any needles out of myself or heal myself. I had already healed myself last night. The difference in affect after the meditation where I destroyed the image of the woman inside the dead sphere was so different from all of my previous attempts, which were just trying to shoot her back, or trying to comfort the lioness inside, who was growling and roaring in pain and confusion. When I did that, I never healed - it was like there was an unhealed wound in my chest that kept bleeding. But when I consciously did it within - and made sure to avoid affecting the woman herself, keeping everything inside of me - the pain went away and I didn't think about it so obsessively any more. The wound had healed.

*Footnote on terminology

The words "witch" or "magic" are used here in the sense that Jungian analysts like Marie-Louise von Franz use them, as ways of using the subconscious to manipulate other people or reality. Witches, in the sense of practitioners of Wicca, are completely different, and have little or nothing to do with the terms in the Jungian sense. The same goes for other words, like "magic."

Books referred to in post
  1. von Franz, Marie-Louise, Psychotherapy.
  2. von Franz, Marie-Louise, Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Relationships and individuation

The motif of the hierosgamos is... the mystery of mutual individuation, "for nothing can be completed without love, because love puts us in a state of mind in which we are ready to risk everything without holding back anything of importance." Only in this way is an encounter with the Self possible.

(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 254)

It's a hard, hard road. Hard! I'm struggling with this stupid, goddam, painful, annoying, humiliating "romance" thing (can't even really call it a romance because nothing ever actually happens with it.) Wanting to give in again but, besides getting some clear signals from my dreams, I got slapped in the face by the subconscious this morning by while I was reading on the train: "No running away from the work!"

Wanting to just give up and push these inconvenient (to say the least) feelings away again. I am SO. TIRED. OF. THIS! This thing where I guess I'm supposed to be using my feelings for G to individuate has been going on for a good half year, and I am so tired of it!!!

At any rate, I did a bad thing and did what Jung would call magic*. Spiritual growth is accomplished by listening to the messages from the subconscious, which often appear as freakish, synchronistic events. Shit just happens - my rational side can't explain it and it makes that part of me very uncomfortable, I can tell you. Magic, on the other hand, is when the ego tries to use the power of the subconscious to do something, especially to affect others. Which I did. I imagined him no longer in my life, not thinking about me, not coming by my desk every goddam day to talk. And I imagined my feelings no longer going out towards him. I put the lioness in a cage, with images of every single time he rejected us and pushed us away, so she would stop jumping out to try to get to him.

Even as I was doing it, I knew that it was wrong, but I was so hurt and so... tired. I just want to want someone who's not so afraid and always running away from everything. Especially me! But regardless, I got my answer, both in the dream referred to above, but also in what ended up in the reading rotation this morning.

As soon as I opened the book to read it I just groaned. Seriously, sometimes the subconscious likes to beat a dead horse. To death. But I guess that's what I needed. Also, I had suicidal thoughts (actually, more like "I wish I could just disappear" thoughts) last night, which is always an indication of a something big coming up from the subconscious. This appears to be it; the stronger your resistance, the bigger the explosion.

Before I get into things I want to include a quote that just leapt out at me. Unfortunately this is telling me, in no uncertain terms, what I'm supposed to do:
The painful, sticky, unresolved quality of the situation must simply be endured by both sides. In fact, Jung writes in a letter that people become entangled in unanswered love when it is important for them to avoid an erotic experience of individuation, that is, from the striving toward greater consciousness
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 241)

This post is going to be largely selections from the chapter titled "Some Aspects of the Transference" from Marie-Louse von Franz's book Psychotherapy - in light of the crisis I've been going through, the entire chapter was like the ringing of a huge, cosmic bell. Later I'm going to post something about the animus, the anima and the heirosgamos itself.

What's really a "fated" relationship?

From almost the beginning of this relationship I've had the feeling that it was fated, that we were brought together to work out issues and grow. I also thought that we were "meant to be together" but reading the following gave me a shock that's forcing me to re-evaluate everything.
[M]any do not interpret their own love fantasies as projections but rather as necessary relationships "destined" by life or the Self just because this is really their own secret desire. In this way one is simply taken over by an unconscious lust or rejection tendency, with negative results for both parties involved.

(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 241)

Is that what this is? Am I projecting a fantasy simply because I want it so much? I'm really struggling to see where the ego is in all of this, and where the Self. There are definitely things coming from the ego: the need to have a relationship in order to be "normal" ("If you're alone it must be because there's something wrong with you.") But also the desire for physical closeness. How much of what I feel is coming from the Self and how much from the ego? This afternoon, while thinking about this, I got the definite sense that ego desires have contaminated my feelings for G, and are also the source my feelings of wanting to run away from him. The question is: what am I supposed to do about it?
[I]t can be as misguided to affect elevated spirituality as a way of evading concrete obligations as to let the relationship degenerate onto an atavistic-primitive level. These two represent a Scylla and Charybdis through which one has to steer one's way.

[T]ransference always does lead to crucifixion, that is, to the death of the natural - that is, unconscious - person one has hitherto been. We are the crossing point for conflicting forces, first for the manifestation of our own shadow in the form of jealousy, territoriality, sexual passions, and so on; and second for the fact that the partner is not as we would have him or her; and third for the contents of the collective unconscious, which through the transference come to the surface and begin to have a shaping influence on our destiny. All this leads to a death of the ego, and if everything goes right, to the birth of the Self. The principal task in this phase, as we know, is coming to terms with the animus and anima.

(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 250)

Is it love? Or is it just a power play?

One thing was highlighted in this last round of me attacking/G running away; that this was a stereotypical incident for us. One could even say that it characterizes or relationship: He starts talking about how hard a time he's having. I come back trying to push him to do something about it. He runs away, and then I get hurt.

I definitely care about him. I do. In fact, even when I try to back off and not to get involved I get sucked back into everything when he starts talking about feelings of despair and like he'll never be able to accomplish anything. The very reason I push him is because I feel compelled to help him. But the question is, is this really the right way to go about things?

I recall this in connection my first analysis with a seriously disturbed analysand, a borderline case. I tried desperately with all the forces at my command to prevent her from slipping into a psychotic episode. At that point Jung had me come to see him. He listened to the whole story and then said very seriously, "What makes you so sure that the analysand doesn't have to go through an episode? Many people improve after such an episode. What makes you think you know her destiny so precisely? Perhaps you are hindering the very thing that according to God's will should happen."... Too much Christian helping spirit is, as Jung once wrote, "an invasion of the will of the other. One should behave like someone who is offering an opportunity that can be either grasped or turned aside. Otherwise one gets into difficulties. This is so, because the human being is not totally good, but is nearly half a devil."

(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 243)

This is definitely not how I approached G. I'm generally very detached from people - friendly but I don't push one way or another. If you choose to take my advice... good. If not... *shrug*. But when I care about someone or something, I push. Sometimes I do act casually with G... then he just walks away when he's starting to feel overwhelmed, and comes back when he needs another dose. No harm, no foul. But when I feel intensely, too lioness-y, I charge him, sending him running for the hills.

This image of "offering an opportunity," as if you're offering your hand in a friendly, encouraging but non-obtrusive way, really struck me. It's how I generally am, and it's interesting to see how others react when I start with the pushing. Or how I balk when I feel others pushing me in a similar fashion. This is clearly what von Franz means when she talks about a power play. It's all about forcing your will on others. Even when it's with the very best of intentions, it's still a violation.

At the same time, when I'm casual I'm also not invested; I have vague feelings of concern and caring but, let's face it, when I'm casual it's because I don't really care. Not really. I push because I care... I push when I care. The trick is to care deeply, but not try to force people to do something "for their own good." Keeping this delicate, living balance is another Scylla and Charybdis.

While I was thinking about writing this post, and re-reading the chapter, the thought occurred to me: Which is more important, having a romance relationship like everyone else has, with the lack of consciousness and everything else most people are mired in? Or to live a more full, whole life, where I'm connected with the Self/God? Which do I want more?

I thought to myself that I had agreed that I would submit to whatever was required of me. I was still rebellious and resistant but coming down the other side. And for a moment I felt the lightness that being connected with the Self brings.


While writing a general introduction to Jung's ideas I came across the following quote:
In spite of being disturbing and socially dangerous, projections also have a meaning; for it is apparently only through projections that we can make ourselves conscious of certain unconscious processes. Through projections there arise, first of all, those fascinations, affects, entanglements which then force us to reflect on ourselves. There is no becoming conscious without the fires of emotion and suffering.
That says everything, right there.

*Footnote on terminology

The words "witch" or "magic" are used here in the sense that Jungian analysts like Marie-Louise von Franz use them, as ways of using the subconscious to manipulate other people or reality. Witches, in the sense of practitioners of Wicca, are completely different, and have little or nothing to do with the terms in the Jungian sense. The same goes for other words, like "magic."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Befriending the lioness

A lot has been happening lately... A LOT! Most of this has circled around work on my inferior function, which I really got just recently while reading Marie-Louise von Franz's book Psychotherapy. I explored Jung's four functions of the personality in the following posts on Queen of the Night, mostly from an intellectual standpoint but with some personal observations. But I did a lot more work than just what was written in the QotN posts. It's been another amazing series of breakthroughs (my energy levels are up again). At any rate, these are the posts - go here for actual information on the four functions:
For some reason, figuring out what my main function(s) are released this flood of emotion, pain in particular, from all the difficulties I've had with my inferior feeling function. Spending a day with relatives for the holidays had something to do with it, I'm sure, because most of my feelings came from a lifetime of not being "good enough". But a lot also came up in relation to G, too - I felt like the reason he didn't like me was because I'm so gauche emotionally, that he found that part of me repulsive.

It really kicked in as I was coming home on the train from visiting my family. When I really got what my inferior feeling function was, and how it operated, how it makes me overly enthusiastic when I get emotional, I kept getting flooded with waves of shame, sadness, feeling like maybe that was why G keeps pulling away. Von Franz describes the inferior extroverted feeling function of an introverted thinking person - it was like looking in a mirror!
The inferior feeling of both types is sticky, and the extraverted thinking type has this kind of invisible faithfulness which can last endlessly. The same is true for the extraverted feeling of the introverted thinking type, except that it will not be invisible but visible faithfulness. If you evaluate it positively, it will be faithful, but to negative evaluation it is sticky. It resembles the gluelike flow of feeling in an epileptoid person; it has that kind of sticky, doglike attachment which, especially to the beloved object, is not always amusing. You could compare the inferior feeling of an introveted thinking type to the flow of hot lava from a volcano - it only moves about five meters an hour, but it devastates everything on it's way. That is why, naturally, an introverted thinking type will very soon experience that with his extraverted feeling he is always putting his foot in it, for the feeling is so primitive, sticky, and childish; but it also has all the advantages of a primitive function, for it is very genuine and warm. When an introverted thinking type loves, there is no calculation in it. It will be for the sake of the other but it will be primitive. That is true for both types, for the thinking types have primitive feeling, but on the other hand it is never calculating. The inferior feeling of a thinking type is like a lioness that would like to play with you. She has no other intention than to play, but she rubs herself, purring, against your leg, or eats you up, or gives you a great blow so that you fall over when she licks your face. But there is no calculation or intention about it; it is just an expression of feeling, just as a dog wags his tail! What touches people in the feeling of domestic animals is just this lack of calculation.
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 87)

So when I got home, I did a lot of active imagination work. At first my inferior feeling was a retarded person. Then she became a lioness. I cried a lot - A LOT - almost endlessly, over those feelings of shame and pain. I also accepted the lioness and apologized to her for keeping her locked up. When I finished, I felt completely drained and wrung out emotionally.

Those feelings came back periodically and are still coming back. But afterwards, I felt powerfully energized - by keeping the lioness suppressed I had cut myself off from my energy. I don't know how much of this is my animus being straightened out and released and how much was my inferior feeling function inner lioness, but releasing her has released something. It feels like there is a difference; I feel the energy from freeing my animus more in my head, whereas the energy from freeing my lioness is more in my heart. After freeing my animus, I felt more mentally clear and potent, whereas the lioness feels warm, conencted with others in a pure, loving way.


Had another incident with G - yesterday, my lioness was out in full force and I was full of warmth and exuberance. Today, she was a little less there - last night she was drained. I realized she needed to stay down in the subconscious to recharge her energy, down in the dark jungle. She'd stayed with me all day because I needed her, but she was tired, so she left for a bit, but now that we've established contact she can come and go as needed. Yesterday, G seemed non-plussed at first but when I met him again, I could tell he was drawn to the lioness's fire. Today, she scared him away I think.

We were talking, and getting into deep, uncomfortable waters for him. He was telling me - AGAIN! - about how he feels like he's not accomplishing anything, he's too old, yadda yadda yadda, and I tried to point him to the fire he had inside him, his Aries passion, and that he doesn't have to worry about going too far or getting into trouble because his (over!)developed Sensation carefulness will keep him out of trouble. Then he tried to do the running away thing. And then I said "Let's do lunch! I want to talk about this more" and he was like "I don't want to talk" (running away). And I was like "We don't have to talk." At this point, he made a warding gesture and ran off.

Of course I was devastated. I sat there for a while with the Lioness on my lap as she purred on me. Eventually she went back to the Jungle, but before she did I put a golden necklace on her - a sign of how precious she is to me. She even came back for a moment when I was yet again run over by an attack of the blues.

About G... at first I wanted to pull away from him because of the pain (my normal emotional reaction). But then, I felt, this is part of being the lioness - she gets over-enthusiastic. And G is attracted to that warmth on the one hand, but then it gets too much for him and he runs away. I'm going to keep getting hurt, and then getting annoyed and losing patience. But now that I have a better understanding of what's going on, I can maintain my balance and sense of humor throughout these emotional upheavals.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Archetypes, astrology and Jung's functions (oh my!)

This is very much early days but I'm seeing a connection between Jung's four functions and the archetypes and astrology. I'm really an intuitive Persephone, but my whole life I've relied more on my Hecate thinking to get by. F is really an Aphrodite, which I would say is an extroverted feeling archetype. But his whole life he's survived by relying on his extroverted sensation Hephaestus. For both of us, as we deepen we've come to realize that we need to live out and integrate this other archetype that we didn't even realize was ours. We need to integrate the function that's associated with this new archetype, which feels like who we really are.

I've also been seeing parallels between this and astrology. For a while now I've suspected that perhaps your Ascendant, the sign that shows how you deal with new situations or people, is in your secondary archetype, the one that you adopt as a protective cover for your real archetype, the sign that's represented by the Sun, or your true nature. My Ascendant is in brainy, detached Aquarius, but my Sun is in emotional, intuitive Cancer! The same for F; his Ascendant is in Sagittarius, which he feels is his Dionysus fun loving wackiness. He has a lot of Earth, a lot of Virgo, in his chart too, in planets that affect how he takes action. But his Sun is in Libra, which is the sign of Aphrodite.

G too, I feel like his chart is pointing to a direction of growth; I'm not sure what his Ascendant is but his Sun is heavily influenced by Hadean Saturn/Capricorn and Scorpio/Pluto. He also has the same double Virgo that F does, which makes him even more Hadean. But his Sun is in Libra! And he definitely has issues with being unable to let out his exuberant Aries emotions, which are squashed between pessimistic Capricorn, practical, worry-wart Virgo and apocalyptic, emotionally overwrought Scorpio. I would read this as his emotional Poseidon side which needs to be developed, and it certainly seems to indicate that his path of integration is from his introverted sensation to his introverted feeling. Perhaps your dominant function is your Ascendant, but, in order to grow, you have to learn to express your Sun nature, or your auxiliary function. I don't know. Like I said, it's early days, but there does seem to be a thread running through the three different systems.

Integrating the four functions

The four functions aren't actually "types," unless people get stuck in a particular function. And then the Self will send neuroses in order to poke and prod at us until we get moving and growing. But in order to do so, we have to take a meandering path that snakes from our dominant function to our auxiliary function, to the tertiary function, and finally to our inferior function. This whole process takes a loooooooooooong time. And apparently it doesn't have to be particularly clear cut or even sequential, if my own life is any indication. This is actually how you move around the circle, integrating the first three functions. When you integrate another function, you live that function, and all it's strengths and weaknesses are yours.
The assimilation of functions is such a serious business that people generally spend a very long time in assimilating their auxiliary functions and sometimes, say for at least eight to ten years, become a type which was not their original type. I once, for example, knew a woman who was an introverted feeling type; that is, in the past she had been a feeling type, but in the stage at which we met, she had already switched the process to developing intuition and at that stage had as much trouble with her sensation as if she had been a genuine intuitive... [S]he went through all the crises of having to switch from intuition to sensation which you see with a primarily intuitive type; for example, she became completely inaccurate about facts and had trouble relating to them, exactly as an intuitive does. She then stated with great emphasis that it had always been an error to call her a feeling type, for she was an intuitive, but she was wrong! She was right and wrong for at the stage at which she was, she was exactly like an intuitive, but that was because she was at the stage of living in her second function and was just in the crisis of getting over to the third.
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 131)

What seems to happen is your dominant function gets worn out from overuse; you get tired of using it and life gets sterile, lifeless. Feels meaningless. In my case, I had a combination of fascination for and out and out messages from dreams and the Tarot that pretty clearly told me it was time to move on, away from thinking and into intuition. Or, more accurately, more completely into intuition - I've always relied on my intuition to some degree. And when we integrate another function we become that function - all of it's strengths and weaknesses become ours. A feeling type that starts integrating sensation will have problems with flashes of sinister, and completely unfounded, suspicion. Or, as in my case, a thinking type moves to integrate intuition and can't balance her checkbook or keep her apartment clean if her very life depended on it. And facts? Forget about facts! I don't need facts, I know the truth :p

I think this is the stage I'm at right now. I may or may not be moving towards integrating my third function, sensation. Integration of the third function is apparently accompanied or precipitated by a crisis, which is definitely happening in my life right now. And for some reason, either because I'm moving into the third stage, or because my Animus is straightening out (or both!) I feel like I'm starting to get a handle on the physical world.

One of the reasons I'm so confused is that I've always had problems with people (the feeling function) and I've always had problems with things (the sensation function). However, and this is based solely on intuition, it seems to me that dealing with people, while not as problematic right now is the most deeply rooted problem; i.e., where I'm the most primitive. On the other hand, I feel like the world of things is a more open field. Like it's waiting for me, just over the next hill, but I have to stay in this valley for a little while longer. It's related to the feeling that Hestia is one of my tertiary archetypes - it's there, and when it's there it's very comfortable for me. It's difficult to stay in but I feel a sense of comfort and ease when I'm in Hestia mode.

One other thing that I really love and find incredibly valuable about learning about the different functions is how much it explains not only about myself but about my family and others around me. As happened with learning about archetypes, I've come to understand and have compassion where I used to just judge. I know now why Judy is manipulative (or so it seems to an introverted thinking type like me.) I now see that her extroverted feeling type is my shadow, so I have this irrational disgust of some of her behavior... and am completely mystified by the rest. And I can see how my behavior and is her shadow. I have a better, and more dispassionate, grasp of why certain things I do trigger her disgust. Probably one of the biggest realizations this past weekend has been that I'm not defective, as I've felt my whole life. I'm just an thinker/intuitive living in a family of feeling/sensation types... an introverted thinker/intuitive. In a family of extroverted feeling/sensation types. Oy vey! At any rate, this has brought up a lot of emotion that I've spent a large part of this weekend feeling and releasing.

I'm not 100% sure of which is my dominant function because I seem to have been both a thinking type and an intuitive for a long time, all the way back to childhood. The only thing I feel like I can do is just go where my subconscious/Self seems to be indicating I go, and stay there for as long as I feel like I should, and just take things from there. This is another reason I feel like intuition is my second function - when this whole thing started, I got message after message telling me I needed to let go of rationality. Whatever the case may be, I will go where the path leads.

I feel almost like I'm on a long journey, just meandering from one country to the next. If that's the case, I want to stop, smell the roses, partake of some tasty local delicacies, and enjoy my stay in each place for as long as I'm there.

Jung's four functions ("personality types")

Now I'm having second thoughts about being an Intuitive. I finally finished the (very long) section on the inferior function in Psychotherapy. Later in the chapter von Franz writes that for many people the dominant function wears out and they move to their auxiliary function. When that happens, you start having problems with that inferior function.

I want to explore the whole process of integrating the first three functions but first I want to think a little about the actual personality types. I have to eventually do a post, or maybe a page, on Jungian psychology, but I want to write a quick sketch of his thinking, both for any visitors but also for my own integration of these concepts.

Introversion and extroversion

First off, there are two basic attitudes that everyone falls into, introversion and extroversion. Jung's concepts of introversion and extroversion are so widespread they don't need much introduction but, for the sake of precision, I'd like to clarify what Jung meant. It's most commonly thought of as the divide between the kind of people who like to go to parties and those who prefer staying at home. Which may be true, but it's more accurate to talk about the flow of libido; one's energy and attention.

The extrovert is the easiest to understand - their energy and attention flow outwards, toward the outer world of things, people and ideas out there. They're the easiest to understand and the easiest to see because where their energy and attention is flowing is clear to anyone observing them. An introvert, on the other hand, spends most of their time and attention focusing on feelings, thoughts, etc. that are inside of them. The difference between the two may become more clear after looking at Jung's four functions and how each function differs when expressed by an introvert and by an extrovert.

Jung's four functions ("personality types")

There are 4 different functions in a personality, although everyone has one that's strongest, which is the one they're the most identified with, so the functions are commonly thought of as distinct personality types. The four functions are:

Thinking  A person identified with the thinking function excels at manipulating ideas. Philosophers and theoretical physicists are your typical introverted thinkers; their main focus is on the ideas within them. Their concern is more about creating systems for understanding. Lawyers and experimental physicists, on the other hand, typify extroverted thinking; they care more for ideas as they apply to the "real world" (where an introverted thinker probably feels like their inner world is more real). Extroverted thinkers use their thinking to organize, codify and understand the world outside of them.

Sensation  Someone primarily identified with the sensation function excels at manipulating objects. Engineers are often extroverted sensation types; they're the hard nosed realists who only believe in what they can see and feel with their five senses. Some may even take it to such an extreme that they even deny the reality of ideas. Introverted sensation types are also primarily concerned with the physical world but where extroverted sensation types focus on the things themselves, introverted sensation types are more concerned with the impact the world makes on themselves, on their inner worlds. I sometimes get flashes of what it's like to be an introverted sensation type when become completely absorbed in all the sensations and impressions while cooking, or biking; everything affects you deeply and the world itself becomes sacred.

Intuition  Intuition is another function that's difficult to describe, and that's because it's main focus is in potential; an intuitive knows things without knowing how they know it. This is because the intuition comes out of the subconscious, from all the information that's constantly being collected there - intuitives have an innate, instinctive ability to access the subconscious. Extroverted intuitives are those entrepreneurs who can somehow sniff out the next big thing, before anyone else has even heard of it. Introverted intuitives are your typical shaman or medium, getting flashes of knowing from within.

Feeling  If thinking types have a subtle and mature grasp of thinking, and sensation types of the physical world, feeling types have a subtle, mature and nuanced grasp of interpersonal relationships. Extroverted feeling types are those people who have an instinctive facility for understanding and working with others. Introverted feeling types are also most focused on their relationships, but they're more concerned with how those relationships are impacting them, as opposed to getting others to behave in a certain way. These are the people who can be at a party and say or do nothing but a calm good cheer spreads out from them like rings in water into which a stone has dropped (or, if they're in a bad mood, they can have the opposite effect on everyone.)

So, in a nutshell, extroverts focus on the outer world while their internal world is "merely" symbolic of what they feel is the real world of things and people. For introverts, however, their internal world is the focus of their energy and attention. The outer world is important mainly in how it provides grist for the inner mill.

Related posts

Integrating the four functions
Archetypes, astrology and Jung's functions (oh my!)

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm not a Thinking type!

Or not primarily, at least, which is a shocker for me as I always thought I was.

I've been reading another Marie-Louise von Franz book (surprise surprise) and am currently reading about the inferior function. My interest in Jung's personality types was piqued so I went exploring around teh interwebs where I made a startling discovery: I'm not actually a Thinking type, as I always thought I was! I'm an Intuitive!!

Von Franz, among others, talks about how one's inferior function is the one that you have the most difficulty with. One key indicator was the things that took you longer to do than normal.
[T]he inferior function is generally slow in contrast to the superior function... [I]f an intuitive fills out a tax form, he needs a week where other people would take a day. He simply cannot do it, or if he does it accurately, he takes forever.

... Assimilating it, and even letting the inferior function come up, takes a great amount of time. If a feeling type wants to think, he will sit eight hours to write two pages - if as much as that. If a thinking type wants to realize his feeling, he has to meditate for hours until he feels what he feels... If you ask a thinking type what he feels, generally he will shoot a lot of conventional answers at you, but when you ask him what he really feels, he is absolutely stunned and says he does not know! If you leave him stewing for a long time, he will slowly realize what he really feels. The same is true for sensation when it is the inferior function, which is why, when intuitives begin to work on their inferior sensation, they get tremendously stiff and overly pedantic, and they have to be extraordinarily accurate in a terribly slow way. This cannot be helped; it is a stage which cannot be skipped.
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, pp. 41-42)

It reminded me of F and his difficulty writing, how it takes him days and days to write what takes me an hour to do. Based on the assumption that I was a Thinking type I tried to wrap my head around my having difficulty feeling... which I don't too much, actually. Not to that that extent. However, I do have serious difficulty with getting day-to-day things done; things like refinancing my apartment, which I find so overwhelming I usually just become paralyzed and can't even think about it.

And it actually makes more sense for a Persephone to have Intuition as her dominant function. Actually, it has a lot of parallels with my discovery that I'm a Persephone and not a Hecate; it wasn't until I took the Goddess Power quiz that I figured out that I was a Persephone. Then, after thinking about it a while, I realized that yes, I'm a Persephone. I guess I've developed my auxiliary function of Thinking so much that, like my Hecate subarchetype, it became difficult for me to see my actual main function!

This also helps in trying to figure out other people's dominant, auxiliary and inferior functions; even if an auxiliary function is very highly developed (which, if my acquaintances are any indication, appears to be quite common) you can always figure out someone's inferior function by looking at what takes a bloody long time for them to do.

Another interesting point von Franz makes about the inferior function is that it's the area in which you feel most alive.
Another difficulty in defining one's own or other people's type is that if people have already reached the stage of being bored with their main function, they very often assure you with absolute sincerity that they belong to the type opposite what they really are. The extravert swears that he is deeply introverted, and vice versa... [W]hen one is trying to find one's type, one must never ask, "What matters to me most?" but rather "What do I habitually do most?" An extravert can be constantly extraverting but will assure you, and will mean it, that he is deeply introverted and only concerned with the inner world. That is not a deception, it is how he feels, for he knows that although it may be for only a minute a day, in that minute in which he introverts he is close to himself; there he is real.
(von Franz, Psychotherapy, p. 33)

This reminds me of how, sometimes, when I can really get into it, cleaning can become a peaceful Zen activity where time expands, becomes Kairos time. And it also explains how it's when I'm in the stream of life that I feel the most anxious... as well as the most alive. As an introvert it's when I'm extraverting that life is sharp and lively. And why I can squeeze so much emotional juice out of a tiny bit of social interaction.

Now what I want to do is practice being in the Sensation function, although Jung and von Franz suggest going a meandering route through the other two functions before taking on the inferior function. It might also explain why I have a fascination with physical activities, like my cycling, or like sewing and cooking; it could be the subconscious's way of developing my inferior Sensation function.

Link: Benet Hill Monastery's page about the inferior function

Related post: Jung's four functions ("personality types")

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The "I"

Been going through some crazy shit at work so my ego's been in an uproar, but this whole experience appears to be my "senior thesis" of personal growth. I've been doing everything I know to do; releasing the emotions as they come up, doing readings, trying to keep my inner ear open to the inner voice. I thought about taking a page from F's practice and writing what I want the outcome to be in a Wish Diary but decided to leave it in the Self's hands (so to speak), wishing simply that whatever was the best for me happen, and that I be soft and permeable enough to let It act through me.

This morning as I was lying in bed I was thinking "Whatever You (the Self) want, let me be in line with You, let my ego be soft and permeable to express You" when suddenly, I felt the artificiality of the ego. Consciously I've known for a while that the ego itself is a complex - a psychic structure built up in childhood as a way to exist, survive and thrive in this world. But this morning, for the first time, I felt it. And with that felt knowing, when the ego started doing it's thing, the words "The 'I' is feeling this" or "The 'I' is feeling that" came into my  head. It's the "I" that's worried about what's going to happen and if there are going to be financial difficulties. And I realized that it's the "I" that wants to be approved - the need for approval appears to be my ego's main driving force (which makes sense for a Persephone.) Not being liked exactly... being approved of.

This latest experience at work has been a flaming crucible of personal growth, with this latest crisis helping "me" separate from "it" (the ego.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"A community of the spirit"

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd's love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don't accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover's mouth in yours.

You moan, "She left me." "He left me."
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

~ Rumi


I just got my book of Rumi poetry the other day and started slowly reading it, from cover to cover, and today I read this poem. It just struck me and I don't know why. Or, more accurately, I have some ideas, but they're many and ghost-like. Some have to do with G, who's been showing up in dreams and readings these past few days. Some have to do with my Animus, who's been making himself felt. But mostly, it has to do with the feeling of peace and acceptance I feel when I let the words soak into me.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The similarity between physics and mysticism

New Age sections of bookstores abound with books that try to "prove" mystical truths by mis-applying quantum physics or some other such nonsense. This might appeal to someone who has no real experience with scientific thought but to someone like me who loves science, reads constantly about science, subscribes to not one, not two, but six different science podcasts (not including their separate video podcasts) this kind of fuzzy thinking drives. Me. Effing. Insane!!! I've already written what I think about that but it's recently occurred to me that in some ways science actually does share something with true spiritual, or psychological, searching.

While reading Marie-Louse von Franz's Alchemy, the topic of following one's inner voice repeatedly came up. In fact, at one point she gets into an argument with a student about whether a monk should marry a prostitute if his inner voice has told him he should (as the prophet Hosea did in the bible). Or, in other words, does God continually reveal his will through people all the time or was it a one time shot and we just need to follow the steps laid out for us. The student, who was a theologian, believed in this sort of a priori "truth" while von Franz, as a Jungian, upheld that God is a living presence with whom we must continually maintain a conversation, with no pre-judgments and with no easy, simple "truths" to mindlessly follow.
"One should always have an eye and an ear open towards the opposite, the other thing. That does not mean to be spineless, it doesn't mean just to sit there. It means to act according to one's conscious conviction, but still always having the humility to keep the door open and be proved wrong. That would be an attitude of consciousness in living connection with the other, dark side. The unjust sun is that attitude of consciousness which knows exactly what is what, a rigid attitude that blocks contact with the unconscious, while the two-rayed sun has a moulding and formative effect upon the unconscious; the latter would be with justice and the former without. I think that is highly meaningful.
"...[C]onsciousness always tends to be one-sided and sure of itself, and that does harm to the mystery of life. But consciousness can have the double attitude and then it enlightens the mystery of life and does not harm it. The humble attitude which always keeps the door open is the necessary acceptance of the fact that one may be wrong, morally or scientifically, or that one may know to some extent but not for certain, and that even the greatest certainty may be only negative, or something plausible in accordance with which I act.
"A conscious attitude connected with the religious attitude is what is required--always to give humble and careful consideration to the unknown factor, that is, to say, 'I think this is the right thing to do,' and then watch for a sign warning that one is not allowing for everything. Consciousness is essential to the unconscious for without it the unconscious cannot live. But consciousness is only a good channel of communication through which the unconscious can flow if it has a double, paradoxical attitude. Then the unconscious can manifest, and the hardening of the conscious attitude against the unconscious, which means a split in the personality--and civilization--can be avoided."
von Franz, Alchemy (p. 145)

If you believe in an already revealed truth then what usually happens is you come up against its limitations, especially if you're clinging to them out of fear and a desire for security. Your inner Self ("God") doesn't care about that and so continually throws difficulties in your paths, including subjecting you to neuroses in the hopes that your suffering will blast you out of your rut. And when that happens, people who follow this kind of religion simply blame the Devil and cling ever more to their security blanket. If, on the other hand, you believe that you need to maintain an attitude of openness, keeping the inner ear open to the inner voice, then you see these difficulties as the way your inner Self gets your attention, or is trying to guide you.

This attitude of going into an experience with no preconceived ideas struck me as exactly what a good scientist (or a good citizen for that matter) needs in order to understand physical phenomena. This mental posture of openness - this willingness to forgo security and one's most cherished notions - is also what 's needed when dealing with psychological, or spiritual, truths as well. The area of work may be different but the fearless commitment to seek the truth, whatever the cost, is the same, whether you're an explorer of science or the realms of the psyche.

I'd like to close with two of my favorite quotes, from two of my favorite scientists. They were writing about the importance of being fearless in the pursuit of intellectual knowledge but I believe they are equally applicable in the pursuit of knowledge of the Self:
"Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview - nothing more constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to novelty." - Stephen Jay Gould

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." "Carl Sagan

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Musings: von Franz's "Alchemy"... and further on the pin

The stories of Eve and of Isis getting secret knowledge from angels, is a man's view of growth. Eve is the Anima who steals knowledge from God (the Self). As a result, a man's unconscious paradise is lost and now he has to do all the hard, painful work of psychological growth. Or the story of Isis who, as his Anima, coerces the secret from the Angels and gives it to her Son (the man.) But what is a woman's story? Where are the stories of an Animus, the woman's mediator between her and God/Self? How do women gain secret knowledge? Or is it even knowledge that she gains? Prometheus steals fire from the Gods and therefore must suffer every day while his liver is eaten... and every night it heals. Is this the image of a woman's Animus? But it's not knowledge her Animus steals. Rather it's fire; power, energy and vitality; the light which illuminates the darkness and reveals what was hidden. As a result a woman's Animus is wounded during the day but is healed at night, when dreams come.

Another is the story of Inanna going into the Underworld, the land of her dark sister, Ereshkigal. Enki (the god of mischief, water, intelligence and creation) sends two little people he makes from the dirt under his fingernails to mourn her as she hangs on the meat hook. When she returns to her world above she has to choose someone to take her place. She picks her consort, Dumuzi, who was the only person who didn't mourn her death, but his sister loved him so much that she offered to take his place so half the year she's in the Underworld and the other half Dumuzi is.  What is the woman's Animus providing here? Sympathy, from Enki? A sacrifice, from Dumuzi, to suffer in her place (which calls to mind Prometheus' suffering during the light half of a day.)

Persephone was abducted by Hades, also of the Underworld. She doesn't want to go but she must if she's to find her power as a Queen. Here the Animus is the Demon Lover who kidnaps the woman to Death (in other words, he kills her old self.) Unlike Inanna here the woman is dragged kicking and screaming to her death, her transformation, in which she must give up her old self in order to be reborn to a greater, more whole and more powerful self. Here the Animus is the abductor, or Death himself. The woman resists her transformation initially. It is only by choosing Hades/her Animus/her transformation, giving up her old self, that she grows (because I made the choice, my Hades abduction is psychological rather than literal - my growth is through us *not* having a relationship.)

"[Y]ou wonder whether you should stick a pin in him and a drop of the poison of knowledge and give him an idea as to what it really means..." (von Franz, writing about whether an increase in consciousness is good or not in "Alchemy" p. 54.)

My dream of the dark man sticking a pin into my "other self" - the "dark man" is obviously my Animus in his role as the destroyer, the demon lover, Hades, Death. He sticks a pin in her and brushes the powder of knowledge - that is, of his own essence (the essence of the Self?) and that destroys the old me, the "other me," the one who must die in order for the new me to be born. He wants to unite sexually with me; he brushes his consciousness onto me to do so. By being covered with his essence does he unite with the me that's being born?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Is it real or is it a projection?

I've been reading Marie-Louise von Franz's book The Interpretations of Fairy Tales and came across the following:
"Men [and women] who know nothing about psychology tend simply to project the anima onto a real woman, experiencing her [his anima] entirely outside. But if through psychological introspection they realize that the attraction exerted upon them by the anima is not only an outer factor but is something they carry within themselves - an inner image of a feminine being which is the true ideal and soul guide - then often, as a next problem, the ego raises a pseudo-conflict between the inner and outer realms by saying, "I don't know if this dream figure is my anima inside or if it concerns the real woman outside...[C]onsciousness, with its extraverted bias, gets caught in a false conflict between concrete outer and symbolic inner realization and in this way cuts the phenomenon of the anima artificially in two.

"To get into this conflict indicates a lack of feeling-realization; it is a typical conflict, raised not by the feeling function but by thinking, which makes an artificial contrast between inside and otuside, between ego and object. Actually the answer is that it is neither the outside nor the inside because it has to do with the reality of the psyche perse, and that is neither outside nor inside. It is both and neither. It is precisely the anima which has to be realized as a reality per se. If she, the anima, likes to come from the outside, she has to be accepted there. If she likes to come from within, she has to be accepted there."
(Page 94)

The question of anima/animus projection and whether or not our romantic relationships are a useful place to work out those issues has been on the back burner of my mind for a while, since I wrote Thoughts on the animus/anima. In that post, I wrote about how our animus makes itself felt in the kinds of stories we find ourselves drawn to, as if we're instinctively drawn to working through those issues, and I was warned about the dangers of projection, something I'd never even heard of.

Further reading showed that yes, projection was problematic, and probably quite common, the reason so many people fall in and out of love all the time. BUT I felt as if it could be helpful if used consciously, asking the right questions: Am I projecting? What am I projecting? And exploring the projection. Also, I felt that, although we need to be dealing with the true people themselves in our relationships, an element of projection might be useful in romantic relationships, adding a tinge of the eternal.

Reading the above quote by von Franz has added an extra layer to this issue: While it's undoubtedly good that we're progressing from viewing others and the world purely in primitive, symbolic and superstitous terms, we can lose sight of the fact that, to our subconscious, everything actually is one, and the person as a symbol and what the symbolic person stands for are one and the same. The problem isn't to figure out which one it is - it's not an either/or thing. The problem is to be conscious about it, seeing which direction it's coming from, now from the inside and now from the outside, and deal with it as it comes up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The number 5 in Tarot and the role of "Satan" in psychological growth

In the tarot, in each suit, five is the number which upsets the stability of the preceding card, four. Five is the number of "Satan": four is completion, but the first and partial completion. Five is the necessary upset to the partial and inadequate completion of four, which represents worldly success, or the success of the ego. Five is seen as evil for the same reason the monsters of our dreams are evil - to the ego anything that takes away from it what it thinks it wants is evil. Myths are the dreams of the collective, and in Christian mythology Satan represents the force which destroys what the ego wants. This destruction clears the way to true completion, but only through hard work. Five is the number of the serpent in the garden - it destroys the easy, unconscious, immature paradise, but in doing so, leads to the possibility of true growth, but only through hard work and pain. From Edinger's Ego and Archetype:
"Since Yahweh and Satan are working together, they can be considered as two aspects of the same thing, i.e., the Self. Satan provides the initiative and dynamism to set up Job's ordeal and hence represents the urge to individuation which must break up the psychological status quo in order to bring about a a new level of development. The serpent played the same role for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden."
(Ego and Archetype, page 80, on the myth of Job)

In Christianity, Yahweh represents the Self, but only the light half. Satan is the shadow half of the Self, the part which provides the impetus for growth. It is part of the Self but, since the immature ego can't see in shades of grey, the Self must be divided up into white and black, good and evil, or Yahweh and Satan. In the same way that to a young child their parent is Good (when they give them what they want) or Bad (when they deny the child what it wants), the Self is is split into the good Yahweh and the destroyer, Satan.


The son of chaos: Satan and the role of Mercurius/the intellect.

"Ego and Archetype": Inflation and the psychology of politics

I'm reading Ego and Archetype by Edward F. Edinger and it's bringing up several ideas which I will explore in various posts - the first one is on Edinger's concept of inflation.

He identifies identification of the ego with the Self as the cause of inflation. I disagree - the identification with the the Self is healing. I think inflation is caused by the false inflation of the ego - where the ego tries to take on the role of the Self unto itself. When the ego tries to give itself a sense of meaning and value, cut off from the Self, it runs into problems like narcissism. Edinger does say that healing is caused by re-establishing a connection with the Self, which I agree with.

I wonder if this is related to coming from a Christian worldview? I'm not sure, but all of his examples are from Christian theology and mythology. Christianity would view identification with the Self (or "God") as sacreligious and anathema so it's possible - I'm 1/4 into the book and I have yet to see an example from a fairy tale or a non-Christian myth.

Individualism and right wing ideology

On page 59 Edinger describes a dream that vividly outlines the process of this re-establishment of connection with the ego - and not only re-establishment but giving control over to the Self - and I thought of the preoccupation in the United States with individuality and the concept of the importance of the control of one's destiny. There's an almost pathological (if not actually pathological) obsession with not letting others control one's self. I can imagine the reaction of your typical American to the dream, which includes consciously giving over control of one's body and one's very thoughts to the "Central Source of Energy and Law" and how it would be interpreted as some sort of evil Communist plot to take over our minds and wondered if this very attitude wasn't a part of American pathology.

I do a lot of work on various political issues and one thing people consistently come up with as a part of their resistance to various social initiatives (health care, high speed rail, bike share) is the loss of personal control. This fear is a large part of the basis of right wing politics, with it's horror of the "nanny state," but can also be found in other political groups, libertarians in particular but even among self identified progressives, especially those who are strong proponents of what they believe to be "real" democracy (ie. that which isn't under the control of corporations.)

This appears to be closely related to the tendency of conservatives to "splitting"- dividing people into all good or all evil. Anyone who promotes ideas that frighten them are communists or helping the terrorists. Conservatives often express a complete inability to understand perspectives different from their own and, in fact, a strong tendency to demonize them. There's a strong thread of fear and paranoia, and the attendant tendency to attack, even try to annihilate, their opponents, with attitudes and behavior becoming more extreme the further to the right ones goes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

On analyzing dreams

I've been dreaming a lot lately... a LOT! At first it was almost impossible to remember but now they're shooting out of my brain every morning like a freaking firehose, to the point I'm having problems keeping up with them.

Anyway, with all this dreaming, I wanted to explore dream analysis more, and I found a great site. Some quotes that stood out are:

Jung felt that the dream acted as a mirror for the ego – revealing that which was missing from the consciousness of the dreamer. For Jung the dream acted as a teacher and guide on the road toward wholeness. The dream acted in such a way as to amend a lop sided or partial perspective on life. A series of dreams would develop, balance and refine the conscious awareness of the dreamer.

The ego cannot escape its destined encounter with the unconscious. Take for example the problem of love and hate. What we fail to see in ourselves we often find attractive in other. What we deny within, we battle outwardly. So too, the circumstances of our life are often designed to teach us exactly what it is that we need to learn. Illness often conceals a hidden wisdom. The ego cannot escape the unconscious just as we cannot escape our own birth.

The dream serves as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious mind. For the dream belongs to the twilight zone of consciousness – where the ego and the unconscious meet. The conscious element of the dream lies in its remembrance, the unconscious element lies in its mystery and perplexity. Half conscious, half unconscious, the dream unites the known and the unknown. To listen to the dream is to listen to the unconscious. Through doing so one relieves the need for the unconscious to force itself.

A dream serves as a mirror. In looking into the dream you see yourself from another angle. For a correct analysis of the dream, it needs to be appreciated as a statement of fact, albeit from an alternate perspective. A dream does not tell you what to do, rather it show you what you are doing.


The writer suggests the following:
  1. Write the dream down
  2. List all the components of the dream (people, places or circumstances)
  3. Write down all your associations to the dream elements
  4. Amplify the dream (taking various themes and symbols from the dream and finding similar material in mythology, psychology or others areas related to the study of symbolism)
  5. Think about recent events and go over the material, tossing and turning the dream in your head
This process is similar to what I already do, with some useful additions; amplifying the dream and thinking consciously about recent events. I do both already but in a hit or miss kind of way, but I think these two steps, done consistenly, will help draw out more from the dreams than I've been getting. I feel like there's a lot there but I'm missing it, and I hope this will help. I have a dream from a couple of night ago to try this out on.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quote of the day

From The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego by Erel Shalit.
"To Jung [as compared to Freud] it is consciousness that is short-sighted, while the unconscious is honest and healing. If we do not bring a conscious relationship to it, however, the unconscious may become chaotic, even lethal."
(page 8)

I finished the Hades Moon book and I want to write a post about it but I'm still thinking it over. There was a lot there, and I'm actually re-reading it. But for now, I'm reading Shalit's book over breakfast  :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughts on the animus/anima

I always thought the animus (or anima, if you're a man) was the archetype of the opposite sex that you expressed the most. Now I wonder...

I figured my animus was Hermes because I have several Hermes-like traits, even though I feel nothing for him and he never appears in any active visualizations. By contrast, I have done a LOT of work with my inner Hades (who has a deep connection to my archetype, Persephone). So now I'm thinking... maybe our animus is actually the archetype, or archetypes, that our own archetype matches with romantically? Which would make sense, as those are the people with whom we can do the most spiritual work, and grow the most with. Perhaps we seek a romantic partner who is a manifestation of that inner animus to carry on the work with on a different level.

It just doesn't make sense that our animus would be so completely non-existent in our inner world. And now that I think of it, when I read romances, this is the kind of story I'm the most drawn to. Although I can appreciate any well written story that has engaging characters, it's stories about weak, diffuse, lost women and chthonic men that I find the most compelling. So, like everything else in our lives, our reading habits can help us understand what's going on inside us.

... One further note: For someone who used to read, and watch movies, as much as I did, I'm finding it almost impossible to do so now. It might be because I'm finally living what I used to read about, but I don't think that's actually it. My Persephone has a very strong will - I used to think she (and I) was lazy, or incapable of getting work done. I realize it's because she needed to find her true work, her life's labor. And now that she's found it, she isn't interested in anything else. If I could do this from the time I woke up to the time I collapsed into bed, I think it wouldn't be enough for her.

I'm not sure how long this is going to last. While I struggle to get my basic needs done (like cleaning my apartment... or keeping my job!) it's exciting to have all this energy and focus.

Also... if I'm right and this is the case, then gay people would be "double souled" - they have both a male and female archetype... and matching animus/anima's. Pretty busy in there!

Why I still consider myself an atheist

And why it matters. What it boils down to is what I said in How do archetypes heal us: The gods don't want to be worshipped. They want to be manifested.

I've been thinking about religion and soul work and whether or not I would still say I'm an atheist, and if it even matters and I've come to the conclusion that yes, I'm still and atheist. And yes, it matters.

As I've stressed again and again, it's vital to keep these two worlds separate. They can interpenetrate, and they certainly influence each other, but they are two separate worlds, and to mush them together is to invite disaster. First off, the objective world does exist. There are natural laws, they exist, and they determine what will happen. Everyone should have a grounding in rational thought because we are all citizens of the world; our fellow human beings, and even the Earth itself, are relying on all of us to be as clear thinking as possible. Whether it's in politics or with issues of global warming and peak oil, we need to understand clearly what are the causes of our problems, and what we can do to solve those problems, and then go out and do them. And quite honestly? The world is in too deep a pile of shit for us to get out of it without bringing to bear ALL of our resources.

That being said, we must make room for magic and mystery in our lives. Without it our souls will whither and starve... and, ironically, we will actually be far less effective than we could have been if we'd connected to that part of ourselves. I spent the last ten years of my life completely immersed in the world of reason and politics. I could have made much more of a difference if I had healed myself before that. But even more than that... we need soul in our lives, just as much as we need love, purpose, and connection. We can't even have any of those things if we haven't connected with our deep selves and released the garbage that's covering it up.

Finally, blindly clinging to comforting religious dogmas is actually completely antithetical to true soul work. If you are hiding from your fears of the big, bad world - or, even worse, your own inadequacies - behind the shield of a Big Daddy, or a willful determination that nothing bad ever exists, or whatever your spiritual pacifier of choice is, then you have actually cut yourself off from your soul. Religion can be used by the ego to protect itself just like anything else can, whether it's working for high status, or to look sexually attractive to others, or to be smarter or more accomplished than others, all of that is just the ego trying to protect itself. This is not to say that there's nothing to be learned by people's religious belief, even when it's part of a psyche-pathology. In fact, as we know from our soul work, our defenses are the very place we need to go to learn and grow. And we can explore these religious stories for the goldmines of soul stories that they are.

True depth work requires that we face life fully - face ourselves and life itself - stare right into the face of our fear and inadequacy and powerlessness. To strip away from the ego all of the ways it protects itself from what it fears. This is the only way we can become whole... and the only way we can live in this life to the fullest. We need compassion for ourselves and others; an embracing, kind, affectionate interest. And when the "inner god" asks us to let go of our protective self deception, we need to be kind to ourselves, too. But we must let them go if we are to become whole.

As usual, this is a work in progress. Although my fundamental beliefs haven't changed, even with this recent descent into the underworld, things could always change. They'll certainly evolve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life as art

I've been poking around Depth Psychology Alliance's website - amazing source of information and inspiration - and was struck by the following blog post by C.Victor Posing:

Tension and Release

All great music has the pattern of “tension and release.”  This process creates a main theme, and then starts to intensify by adding intervals (scale music notes) to reach a state of tension,  and then gives a release.  This creates interest and complexity in the composition.

Likewise,  in our spiritual path there are added obstacles to create a feeling of tension in the form of uneasiness, or abandonment, which causes us to seek and search out the reason for this feeling.  Then, we build up a desire once again for that closeness, and oneness with the Divine, and the feeling of “bliss” returns.  This is the natural process of transformation
On the one hand, it's vital that we see difficult times - those times of "tension" - as good friends who bring us the gifts we need to grow. Every obstacle, both inner and outer, is an opportunity to learn and grow. But recently, even beyond the need to grow, I've been feeling more and more as if our lives are like art. In a post from a couple of days ago Wrestling with angels, I wrote the following, which I felt was so meaningful that I changed this blog's subheader to include it.
The point isn't the having or the getting, but the wanting, the feeling. It's like making great art... or appreciating it. What matters are the feelings you experience, and the way that experience alters you; deepens your connection to yourself, to others, and to life. So one can say that our lives themselves are a great art.
The soul is not the ego - in many ways it stands opposed to the ego. The purpose of the ego is to protect the self. The purpose of the soul is to live, to experience, to feel deeply. While we need the ego to survive, if it gains control of our mind, our lives are reduced to small, petty, fear filled things. The ego is a great servant, but a terrible master - we need it to survive, but it must be subordinate to the parts of us that have a larger picture of life.

Times of difficulty are both opportunities for us to release ego fear and ego defensiveness, unburying true inner selves... but they are also of value in and of themselves. We go to great art to be moved - all of our feelings, not just the pretty ones. When an art form shies away from the painful feelings, we call it "saccharine," "artificial," "shallow." In order for our lives to be rich, full of meaning and depth, we need the difficult times as well as the easy ones, the pain as well as the joy. That pain not only makes our joy more intense, it is itself something our soul craves, as the soul desires above all to live a full, human life.


Something else I thought of that follows tension and then release patterns: sneezing. And sex. Actually, many things related to the body follow that pattern.

New blog!

In case you haven't noticed, QotN has been really, really (really!) quiet. This is because I've been doing some other stuff, like go...