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.


Edit

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.


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...