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The Archetype of the Shadow

Quote:Jung and the Archetype of the Apocalypse

[ 1 Sep 2009 ]

Jung and the Archetype of the Apocalypse

As we have noted in earlier essays, Jung was very intuitive. Thanks to his keen intuition he was able to sense shifts in the collective consciousness long before outer changes made these shifts obvious to others. One of the shifts he noted was the approach of the end time and the activation of what he called the archetype of the apocalypse. As early as the 1950’s Jung foresaw the approach of the “end time.”
Jung felt it was important for people to know about this archetype because he recognized the power each individual has to change the future. He knew that if enough people become aware of the apocalypse, as an archetype, understand its intentions and internalize its meaning in their own lives, the fate of the world might be more positive. In this essay we are going to discuss briefly the meaning and features of archetypes, with particular attention to the archetype of the apocalypse, and then consider how it relates to the individual and to the collective. We conclude with identifying some of the signs of the approach of the archetype in our world at the moment and Jung’s attitude toward apocalypticists.

The Meaning of “Archetype”

In a paper presented at a London symposium in 1919 Jung used the term “archetype” for the first time, to refer to the
a priori, inborn forms of “intuition,”... which are the necessary a priori determinants of all psychic processes. Just as his instincts compel man to a specifically human mode of existence, so the archetypes force his ways of perception and apprehension into specifically human patterns. The instincts and the archetypes together form the “collective unconscious.”
Earlier in his publications Jung had used the terms “primordial image,” and “the inborn mode of psychic apprehension...”. None of these definitions is likely to illuminate the meaning and value of the notion for the contemporary layperson devoted to Jungiana. So, eager to convey the utility of the concept to their students, later Jungian analysts have elaborated Jung’s definition.
One of the most thorough explications of the concept is found in Anthony Stevens’ Archetype Revisited: An Updated Natural History of the Self. In this revision of his earlier study of the concept, Stevens defines archetypes as
“innate neuropsychic centers possessing the capacity to initiate, control and mediate the common behavioral characteristics and typical experiences of all human beings, irrespective of race, culture or creed.”
What’s this mean? Let’s examine each of the components of this definition.
First of all, archetypes are “innate,” that is, they are part of our psychic makeup, much as our instincts are. We don’t have to learn them or do any sort of conscious work to make them part of our array of human traits: they already are within us, as a form of natural self-organization.
Next, Stevens describes archetypes as “neuropsychic centers.” They are part of our psyche and our nervous system. And they hold potential, i.e. they give rise to patterns of behavior. Archetypes help us to respond in the moment to experiences that arise in life.
One example that I use in my classes which helps students grasp the idea here is the situation where a person is walking along a sidewalk and comes upon a tiny infant all alone and crying. Virtually no one in such a situation would walk on by: It is part of our innate psychic makeup to stop, look around for the parents or caregivers and, if none seem to be present, to try to tend to the infant in some way. Such solicitude reflects the activation of our inner “mother” archetype, which predisposes all human beings to give nurturance, protection and comfort to infants in distress. The caregiving impulse is one pattern of behavior. As Stevens notes in his definition, the archetype “initiates” the behavior. In this case, it is the behavior associated with “mothering.”
A final feature of archetypes is their universal quality. As part of the “collective unconscious” they are common to all persons “regardless of race, culture or creed.” Every human collective has “mother,” “father,” “birth,” “death” etc. in its culture—these are universal features of human existence.
As “active living dispositions... that perform and continually influence our thoughts, feelings and actions,” archetypes are very significant in our lives. But they are not tangible: you cannot see the archetype itself but only the behaviors or patterns of feeling that the archetype gives rise to. Ultimately, Jung realized, archetypes cannot be defined (just as we cannot wrap our minds around the collective unconscious). We can best understand archetypes through our experiences as humans. We can grasp the archetype of “mother” from situations like the above example with the infant on the sidewalk.

Some Features of Archetypes

Several features we have mentioned above: Archetypes are universal and impersonal, as part of the collective unconscious which links us to all of humanity. They are also intangible--non-material--being part of our psychic makeup. We cannot see archetypes with our physical senses unless or until they spark some outer behavior or feeling. And this is another feature: Archetypes are generative, i.e. they spark actions on our part, as we noted in the example above of the “mothering” behavior that arises when we see a vulnerable infant exposed to danger. We don’t have to learn this behavior: It is innately part of our being human.
Archetypes get actualized through our personal experiences in life. In our example, the “mother” archetype gets actualized when we stop and seek help for the infant. The puer archetype is actualized when we spend time at play. The senex archetype shows up when we balance our checkbook and plan our budget for the months ahead. We will discuss how the archetype of the apocalypse shows up later in this essay.
Other features of archetypes are more subtle—their non-locality, for example. Being part of our psychic makeup, archetypes exist outside space and time. A mother’s concern for her child exists regardless of what time it is or where the child is. So it can happen that at 2 o’clock in the morning a mother in Iowa wakes up somehow knowing that her soldier son in Iraq is in some sort of danger, and several hours later she gets a call from the Army that he has been wounded and is being airlifted to the hospital in Germany.
Besides non-locality, archetypes have “a certain autonomy.” By this Jung means that archetypes will operate outside of our ego’s conscious will. In the example above of the infant on the sidewalk, we may be very busy and pressed for time, but even then, we are likely to stop and seek help for the infant. Something in us acts in spite of our desire to get to the meeting on time or to stick to the schedule.
Part of the reason archetypes have autonomy is that they have intentionality: they have a purpose; they call upon us to act in a certain way, to achieve a certain goal. In the example with the “mother” archetype, the intention is to protect the vulnerable new life, to nurture and foster. The “creator” archetype intends for us to bring something new into being. The “teacher” archetype intends for us to transmit our knowledge and wisdom to those receptive to receiving it. The archetype of the apocalypse also has intent, which we will discuss below.
Archetypes have many other features, only two of which we have space to discuss here. The first is their numinosity. Archetypes have a divine quality to them, a power and fascination that derive from their source in the collective unconscious. At times when an archetype motivates us to act we can feel caught up in something larger than ourselves. At such times it is essential that we remember not to identify with the archetype. The ego is not the archetype and can get inflated if it identifies with it. This is important to remember when we consider the archetype of the apocalypse, as we will explain below.
The second feature is the transformative potential archetypes hold. If we recognize and assimilate an archetype, it can change our lives and help us grow in amazing ways. For example, at the Jungian Center now we are seeing lives be enlarged and enriched as people recognize and assimilate the archetype of the creator. Our culture would have us believe that being creative means being gifted with the ability to paint like Picasso or compose like Beethoven. In restricting “creator” to the high arts and masterful performance, our culture has truncated our sense of creativity. But the archetype lives in each one of us and we are being creative in one way or other every day of our lives. Recognizing this and living our creativity consciously expands our reality and enlarges our lives.

The Meaning and Features of the Archetype of the Apocalypse

Before we tackle a definition of the archetype of the apocalypse, we need to understand the meaning of “apocalypse.” It comes from two Greek words, apo and kalypto, which mean “to take away” and “to cover or hide.” So “apocalypse” means literally to “take away the covering of something that has been hidden.” What’s been hidden? The truth, or more specifically, the truth about the future and what is to come. In the New Testament, the final book of the Christian Bible is often referred to the apocalypse or “revelation” given to St. John. John’s visions “took away the cover” of what previously been hidden, to reveal the future end times. Through centuries of Chrisitians’ usage referring to John and his vision the term “apocalypse” has become associated specifically with revelations that envision a “great, final catastrophe” to befall the earth.
Jung regarded apocalypse as an archetype because he recognized that such visions are not limited to Christians: they occur in every culture. Every culture has some sort of belief or account of an “end time” that will be (or has been) revealed. While the specifics vary from culture to culture, there are usually certain basic components of the archetype: Something is revealed about the future; some sort of judgment or evaluation occurs; there is destruction or punishment; and finally there is renewal, in the form of a new reality or world.
The apocalypse archetype shares some features with archetypes in general. It is, for example, what Jung called “preformed.” That is, its general form is already laid down in our unconscious psychic reality. We hear the word “apocalypse” and certain things spring to mind: judgment, destruction, cataclysm, the world not having a very good day! We don’t have to create this reaction; it just arises within us.
The apocalypse archetype is also dynamic: it provokes behaviors, feelings, thoughts and change. For most people who contemplate it, the prospect of apocalypse brings up a host of negative feelings. This is true for most people, but not all. We should note at this point that there are some people now who are actively hoping for the arrival of the apocalypse in a belief that, with the end of the world they will be “raptured” up into Heaven, leaving the “sinners” behind to experience the pain and suffering they deserve. We shall return to this apocalypticist attitude below.
Another key feature of the apocalypse archetype is intent. Like all archetypes, apocalypse is purposive. It wants something to happen. Another way to say this is that it has inherent meaning. It is not simply destructive for the sake of destroying, and this is crucial for us to remember.
What does it want to happen? What meaning might it have? We consider this on two levels: Its intention for us as individuals and what it means for the spiritual seeker; and its intention for the collective, what it means for the world.

How the Archetype of the Apocalypse Relates to the Individual

There are times in the lives of spiritual seekers when dreams arise of global annihilation, wholesale destruction, or interior landscapes of wastelands and wilderness, usually accompanied by feelings of dread, fear, gloom and doom. Sometimes these dreams take the form of images of fire or nuclear explosions, in the alchemical operation known as the calcinatio. At other times dreams show us “holding the tension of the opposites,” enduring the separatio until the transcendent function, or reconciling “third thing” appears. In other dreams we may see our world or situation from a higher perspective, in the sublimatio. Frequently we encounter repellent figures, threatening figures, people not at all like us, as we wrestle with our shadow side. No one who has stayed on the path of deep personal growth has escaped such visions, because the archetype is universal.
Throughout this process we are discomfited, and face a choice: We can resist the work, live in denial and dismiss our dreams as “trivial” or incomprehensible or inconsequential Or we can go with the flow and begin to change. This latter choice is not appealing because it entails allowing the ego to be confronted by the Self. This is not something the ego welcomes. Jung noted that “the experience of the Self is always a defeat for the ego.” The ego doesn’t like facing its own frailty. It wants to think it can run the show and be in control of life. It does not like being forced to confront its limitations. The feelings of anxiety, helplessness, despair and overwhelment that accompany our dreams when the archetype of the apocalypse is activated reflect just how much the ego is out of its depths. A key part of spiritual growth is coming to recognize how limited and inferior the ego is, compared to the wisdom and power of the Self.
When apocalpytic dreams arise spontaneously in our lives, what are we being asked to do? What is the meaning of the archetype for us, as individuals? First, we are being asked to recognize that the Self is coming into conscious realization. When it does, the inner landscape created by the wiles and worries of the ego is threatened, devastated, or shown up as inadequate and limited. We come away from these encounters feeling as if our world has been destroyed. We are being asked to recognize our limitations, see our mistakes, feel the pangs of conscience and come to sense the need to find more authentic and meaningful ways of being. Our world and worldview are shattered and this is precisely what the Self intends.
Only by losing our old world and ways of living can we experience the apocatastasis, the reconstitution or renewal that is at the heart of the archetype of the apocalypse. The Self is ever making “all things new.” It seeks our renewal. It enters consciousness—the world of the ego’s making—and shatters its conventions and images decisively, so as to permit a new inner reality more appropriate to our soul and the spiritual growth we have achieved. When the apocalypse shows up in our dream life, we must transition from our old ways of thinking and being into a more enlarged and authentic way. This process takes time (months, if not years) but the Self is patient. It is implacable, however: While it never lets us down and never lets us go, it also never lets us off! Best not to dig in one’s heels and refuse to cooperate with the Self at such times! Doing so usually forces the archetype to manifest in outer life, and then all manner of unfortunate things show up in life. The Self will not be gainsaid. If we don’t accede to the intentions of the archetype to renew and reconstitute our reality, it will force us to do so through loss of health, job, family, friends, or other painful experiences. While such experiences are terrible to endure, they pale compared to the manifestation of the archetype on the collective level. We consider that level next.

How the Archetype of the Apocalypse Relates to the Collective

On the collective level the archetype of the apocalypse seeks to reorient humanity away from the illusions of a civilization that has grown stale and inappropriate, so as to permit a new, more viable way of life. Since “civilization” is generally something about which we are unconscious, such a reorientation is a painful process, calling into question the host of assumptions we have about reality and how things are. These assumptions can be thought of as “paradigms”—unconscious beliefs, attitudes and mental constructs—that provide the bedrock of how we function in the world. In the next essay I will consider in detail some of these paradigms and how we are being asked to replace them with other models more suited to the next evolutionary stage of humanity as we look toward the future.
The shattering of paradigms is not an easy process. It presents the most severe challenge to life as we know it. We tend to think of Western Civilization as the apogee of human development and we revel in our high technology, sophisticated arts and culture, and the virtues of “modernity.” Rarely do we recognize that, in our lust for scientific progress and ever-more effective forms of control over nature, we have lost all connection to the sacred.
The collective Self is not amused. Nature will not tolerate such abuse much longer. We are seeing more and more evidence of this all over the planet. Just how the archetype of the apocalypse is showing up in our reality now is the subject of the next section of this essay.

Signs of the Archetype of Apocalypse in Our Contemporary Reality

Some signs of the activation of the apocalypse archetype on the collective level are obvious. The rise of apocalyptic cults and sects, like the Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate, are two examples of collectives whose leaders came to identify with the archetype and, as a result of their inflation, met their destruction and took all their followers with them. Another obvious sign is the heightening of tensions in international relations, due to the collective projection of the shadow. In this regard, the unconsciousness of global leaders does not help, e.g. George W. Bush’s repeated use of the phrase “axis of evil” to refer to nations he regarded as malevolent. “Bush 43” gave the world numerous examples of projection of the shadow in his profound unconsciousness. A third example of obvious apocalyptic energy is terrorism, reflecting the “invasion of pent-up demonic forces.” Such forces usually get activated in apocalyptic times. In light of our experience of 9/11 few people in the West would hesitate to identify the Islamic jihadists as “demonic.”
Other signs are less obvious. “Holding the tension of opposites” has been showing up collectively around the world in the last few decades: Rwanda, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, Somalia, the Sunnis and Shi’ites in Iraq, the Jews and Palestinians in Gaza are just some of the examples of opposites in confrontation. International politics is full of enemies confronting each other as the opposites that are contained in the Self ask us, collectively, to become and remain conscious of our disparate energies and reconcile our differences.
Another sign is what Jung called the rise of “-isms.” This is a trait of our collective reality that goes back well into the 19th century. Socialism, communism, patriotism, nationalism, colonialism, imperialism—our language is rich in words that reflect our efforts to conceptualize, theorize and reduce individuality to some collective form. Jung found such efforts to depersonalize reality very offensive. Linked to this tendency is the rise of what Oswald Spengler called the “megalopolis,” or giant city—another collective form that loses sight of the individual.
Gigantic cities are possible, in part, because of our technological “advances.” Jung was not uniformly appreciative of modern technologies. He saw in many of them a huge ego inflation. Out of this inflation come our disregard for Nature and the belief that undergirds much of modern scientism: that we can run a viable society in contravention of natural laws. So we see manifold ecological disasters—wildfires, global warming with its rising sea levels and melting glaciers, changes in habitat and insect infestations. A corollary of environmental destruction is the passionate intensity of some environmentalists hoping to save the Earth. Their passion reflects the activation of the apocalypse archetype.
Another sign is the breakdown in the social and political structures that we associate with Western civilization. For example, the media mention these days the phenomenon of the “failed state,” referring to nations whose governments are unable to protect their citizens and provide the basics of safety, security, functioning law courts, markets and other essentials. We also hear analysts decry the “rise of the imperial Presidency,” the collapse of our traditional value system, and, most recently, the failure of free-market capitalism to provide jobs, access to credit and a sense of economic security for the citizens of the world.
In terms of physical health, Edward Edinger cites the AIDS epidemic as another sign of the apocalypse archetype. AIDS is a disease of the immune system; the body has, in effect, failed in its ability to defend its own borders. On a physiological level the epidemic mirrors the collective “invasion” of new elements that are harbingers of a new reality. Our collective mental health also shows signs of the activation of the archetype: inflations are endemic, from our belief in America of our “exceptionalism” to the Islamic jihadists’ belief that theirs is the moral code appropriate for everyone worldwide.
Contrary to the jihadists’ oppression of the feminine (which is part of their reaction to what they consider “modernity”), the West has supported a widening of the range of activities and roles open to women in the last century. In this we are slowly “reclaiming” the feminine. In an earlier essay I noted how this is part of the emerging albedo phase of the process of alchemical change. It is also a part of the apocalypse archetype in that it is opening us to radically new ways of thinking, as we will explore in the next essay on the apocatastasis of Western civilization.
Finally, there are numerous indicators of the activation of the apocalypse archetype in cultural phenomena. From UFO sightings (which Jung wrote about at length) to science fiction, from the best-selling “Left Behind” series of books about the end times to the crude sexuality and pornography on cable television, contemporary culture is full of examples indicative of the degradation characteristic of a civilization in its end stages. It is said that art anticipates the future and I was forcefully struck some years ago when I saw the movie version of Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears, which was one of the first mainstream media events to include the explosion of an atomic bomb. Nuclear explosions are one of the most common features of apocalyptic dreams for persons in whom the apocalypse archetype is active. When such explosions begin to appear in the collective consciousness (i.e. in mainstream media) the student of Jung takes note. Clearly, “the world as we have known it is coming to an end.”

Jung on Apocalypticism

Jung could see the end coming but he was not at all an apocalypticist, nor did he appreciate apocalypticism. An apocalypticist is a person who believes the end is near and looks forward to it for the supposed release it will bring to him and his fellow believers. This anticipation for global annihilation might seem bizarre if you are not familiar with this strain of Christian fundamentalism, but it is commonly heard now, especially in America, where fundamentalists are more vocal than in other parts of the world.
Jung recognized that the archetype of the apocalypse exists and is now active in our collective unconscious. He understood that, because it is an archetype, the apocalypse has a certain fascination for us (because of its numinosity). But he objected to apocalypticism—i.e. to the quest or longing for the end—on several grounds.
First, he objected to Christian fundamentalists’ interpretation of the Biblical books (most notably Daniel and Revelation) in literal terms. Jung understood that these books, with their rich symbolism and metaphors, were to be handled rather like dreams: as symbolic accounts. They are not describing literal events that are to occur but are providing us with metaphoric images related to inner psychic states of being.
Second, he recognized that Christian fundamentalists operate with a truncated view of the Divine, i.e. that God is all good and that Satan is a force opposed to God and must be vanquished. Jung saw the Divine as All That Is, meaning that the Divine includes the bad and the good, and an encounter with the Divine is our opportunity to integrate the shadow, so as to enlarge our being and increase our capacity for compassion.
Finally, Jung was appalled at the fundamentalists’ eager anticipation of the destruction of Earth and all the life on it. Jung worked always and tirelessly to heal the world, to foster peace and to reconcile conflict. Toward that end he urged individuals to do their inner work, in the knowledge that all real change—change that transforms reality at a fundamental level—starts with and depends on individuals, you and me. Jung would say to us that, if we want to avert global catastrophe, if we want to seize the opportunity that the archetype of the apocalypse is now holding out to us, we must step up to the plate and do our inner work. Wise up to and integrate our shadow. Recognize our inner partner, the animus or anima. Subordinate the ego to our Divine core, the Self. Only by such individual efforts will we be able to utilize this apocalyptic archetype to turn our civilization into something more supportive of the fullness of our human potential. Just what that more supportive civilization would look like is the subject of the next essay.


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The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

Quote:Jung’s Timeliness and Thoughts on Our Current Reality

[ 6 Jul 2009 ]

Jung’s Timeliness and Thoughts on Our Current Reality

Sometimes, in reading Jung, I encounter a passage that makes me think Jung wrote it just yesterday. Recently, while preparing a presentation for the Jung Society for Scholarly Studies symposium at Cornell University, I came across the following quote from “Civilization in Transition:”
Thanks to industrialization, large portions of the population were uprooted and were herded together in large centers. This new form of existence—with its mass psychology and social dependence on the fluctuation of markets and wages—produced an individual who was unstable, insecure, and suggestible. He was aware that his life depended on boards of directors and captains of industry, and he supposed, rightly or wrongly, that they were chiefly motivated by financial interests. He knew that, no matter how conscientiously he worked, he could still fall a victim at any moment to economic changes which were utterly beyond his control. And there was nothing else for him to rely on....
Jung wrote these words for a BBC broadcast he gave in 1946, but, given our recent history, they seem as relevant in 2009 as they were 63 years ago. How prescient Jung was! He could see the fragility of the industrial system and how vulnerable it has left the vast majority of people in the modern world.
Ever the clinician concerned to relieve suffering in the world, Jung was not content simply to diagnose problems; he offered suggestions as to what we might do to improve our situation. Some of these suggestions include wising up to the dangerous features of our current reality, addressing the problem of “mass-mindedness,” and achieving a metanoia, or fundamental mind change.

Wising Up to the Dangerous Features of Our Current Reality

Jung summarized many of what he felt were dangerous features of Western civilization in the above passage. In the manner of the French explication de texte, let’s draw out Jung’s wisdom phrase by phrase.
“Large portions of the population were uprooted...”: Jung regarded the rootlessness of modern people as “one of the greatest psychic dangers... a disaster not only for primitive tribes but for civilized man as well.” Why a disaster? Jung felt rootlessness would lead to “... a hybris of the conscious mind which manifests itself in the form of exaggerated self-esteem or an inferiority complex. At all events a loss of balance ensues, and this is the most fruitful soil for psychic injury.”
“herded together in large centers.”: Jung refers here to big cities, the megalopolises of the modern world, and he felt such “herding” of people caused all sorts of social and mental pathologies, a tendency to “thinking in large numbers” and the rise of “mass psychology” —all regrettable and dangerous features of modern life.
“...dependence on the fluctuation of markets and wages”: Jung recognized that we have become so dependent because of the “externalization of culture” —the result of the Extraverted bias of Western culture (most especially in America). Our “materialistic technology and commercial acquisitiveness” has led to “a loss of spiritual culture.” Jung was quite explicit about the dangers in such dependence on externals:
The man whose interests are all outside is never satisfied with what is necessary, but is perpetually hankering after something more and better which, true to his bias, he always seeks outside himself. He forgets completely that, for all his outward successes, he himself remains the same inwardly, and he therefore laments his poverty if he possesses only one automobile when the majority have two. Obviously the outward lives of men could do with a lot more bettering and beautifying, but these things lose their meaning when the inner man does not keep pace with them. To be satisfied with “necessities” is no doubt an inestimable source of happiness, yet the inner man continues to raise his claim, and this can be satisfied by no outward possession. And the less this voice is heard in the chase after the brilliant things of this world, the more the inner man becomes the source of inexplicable misfortune and uncomprehended unhappiness in the midst of living conditions whose outcome was expected to be entirely different. The externalization of life turns to incurable suffering, because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself. No one wonders at his insatiability, but regards it as his lawful right, never thinking that the one-sidedness of this psychic diet leads in the end to the gravest disturbances of equilibrium. That is the sickness of Western man, and he will not rest until he has infected the whole world with his own greedy restlessness.
The economic meltdown of 2008 brought home the truth of Jung’s insight: the “captains of industry” (most of them in the United States), “chiefly motivated by financial interests” did indeed “infect” the entire planet with their greedy materialism.
One concomitant of such materialism is “... the spiritual confusion of our modern world.” Another has been “the hollowing out of money, which in the near future will make all savings illusory...” . A third is the emptiness of Western materialistic values, which has led to the degeneration of the individual personality. Jung speaks to this in his reference to
“... an individual who was unstable, insecure and suggestible.”: Our Western over-valuation of logic, reason and science is both a result of and a further cause for our lack of self-knowledge and valuation of the inner man. We put great store on being “with it,” following fads and fashions with increasing susceptibility to the omnipresent influence of the media. Lacking inner anchors, we become more and more suggestible, especially as our cities get larger and larger: “The majority of normal people (quite apart from the 10 per cent or so who are inferior) are ridiculously unconscious and naive and are open to any passing suggestion.... The more people live together in heaps, the stupider and more suggestible the individual becomes.”
“...he could still fall victim at any moment to economic changes which were utterly beyond his control.”: Jung noted elsewhere “the longing for security in an age of insecurity.” Being “cogs in the wheel” of the industrialized world model, we feel disempowered, which is the essence of the “victim” archetype.
“And there was nothing else for him to rely on.”: In our world “full of trouble and disorientation,” “confusion and disintegration,” “uneasiness and fear,” we are without firm defenses. Jung felt this was in part due to “current trends in education that foster mass thinking and a collective orientation.” This was one of Jung’s major bugaboos, another key feature of our time and a theme Jung stressed over and over as a major danger we had to recognize and address.

Addressing the Problem of “Mass-Mindedness”

Jung regarded “mass-mindedness” as a danger, and mass psychology as a “dangerous germ.” Why? What’s so dangerous about large groups and crowds?
Jung felt crowds let loose “the dynamisms of the collective man... beasts or demons that lie dormant in every person until he is part of a mob.” Large groups blot out individual morality and cause individuals’ consciousness to sink to a lower level. Crowds stir up fears, which can lead to a whole population having “...a feeling of catastrophe in the air.” Crowds and groups induce “infantile behavior” in people who would otherwise behave in mature and responsible ways. Crowds cause “even the best man to lose his value and meaning,” and lead individuals to become “stultified” and their personalities to “degenerate.” Lacking any self-reflection, large groups of people make individuals “psychically abnormal.” Moved by impersonal, overwhelming forces, mobs produce “herd psychology” and the “mass man.”
Jung repeatedly decried the rise of “mass man.” Such a person is infantile in his behavior, “unreasonable, irresponsible, emotional, erratic and unreliable.” In the mass, the individual looses his value and becomes the victims of “-isms.” Claiming no sense of responsibility for his actions, mass man finds it easy to commit appalling crimes without thinking, and grows increasingly dependent on the state.
Jung felt that the larger the size of the group, the greater the dangers, because the lower the overall level of consciousness. The individual thrust into a large crowd would be hard put indeed to resist the pull into unconsciousness and would soon manifest “psychic abnormality.” Jung saw all this play out in the atrocities of World Wars I and II. He would not be surprised by similar events in the Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and in the current “war” on terrorism.
Resisting mass-mindedness is not easy, but Jung provided us with some suggestions on how to do it. First, we must give up belief in “the sovereign remedy of mass action.” How tempting it is to focus on outer change, to reform what’s “out there”, to seek mass change! Jung would have none of that. He urges us not to depend on groups or large organizations, and most especially, not to look to the state or nation for our deliverance, since this only fosters more mass-mindedness. Rather we must resist trying any collective measures.
Second, he suggests we work to break up large organizations that “eat away at the individual’s nature.” How to do this? Jung is not specific but a simple personal response would be to refuse to join forces with such organizations: take work in small companies, join local groups (which may be affiliated with national or international groups), be self-employed. Support local businesses (most of which are smaller in size that the “big box” retailers and chains). Participate in organizations that understand the value of smallness, like the Jungian Center. We recognize the truth of Jung’s words here and put a premium on smallness. “Small is beautiful” is one of the Center’s stated values.
Most important in resisting mass-mindedness is the re-valuation of the individual. Jung urges us to emphasize and increase the value of the individual person. The individual life is the essential thing, Jung tells us. The salvation of the world lies in the salvation of the individual. We must recognize the whole man and begin with healing ourselves if we wish to heal the world.
To do this, of course, prompts a fourth suggestion Jung makes: work for a fundamental metanoia, or change of consciousness. What does Jung mean by this, and how might we go about achieving it?

Achieving a Metanoia

In this context, metanoia means for Jung changing our focus, our attitude and our values. In terms of our focus, we must shift from a focus on externals—on what’s out there—to a focus on internals—what’s going on inside me. Given the extraverted bias of American culture (with 75% of Americans being Extraverts, in the Jungian typology), this is not something that will come naturally. Most people will have to make a conscious effort to achieve this shift.
The external world does not hold the solution, since anything external is vulnerable to loss. Jesus reminds us of this in his admonition:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21)
Jung knew what Jesus meant by “treasures in heaven.” These are the eternal spiritual truths that lie rooted in the world within us. These include our awareness of the reality of the psyche and its wisdom; our recognizing that the psyche is real, wise, powerful and the source of our being. Jung went so far as to proclaim that “the psyche is the indispensable instrument in the reorganization of a civilized community.”
In terms of our attitude, we have to transform our stress on materialism and matter to one stressing intangibles and things of the spirit. Again, given the bias toward Sensation in American culture (with three-quarters of all Americans being Sensates, in the Jungian typology), this will not be an easy shift to make. But it is an essential shift because it fosters the discovery of our inner life, the reality of the psyche and the valuation of intuition.
In terms of our values, we have to give up the belief that “bigger is better.” Mass action is not the solution. State action is not the solution. Collective action is not the solution to what really ails our world, as we noted above, in the discussion of Jung’s warnings against mass-mindedness.
How to achieve the metanoia Jung calls for? One of the best ways, Jung felt, is working with dreams. A regular, disciplined dream work practice provides us with the necessary personal experience of our soul’s guidance, care, direction and love for us. This is the source of true stability and security, a “treasure” that can’t rust, be eaten or stolen from us. By internalizing a locus of security for ourselves we become psychologically free of dependence on externals, like those boards of directors and captains of industry and whatever antics, crimes or sins they may commit.
The regular practice of working with our dreams allows us to discover our inner life, and this discovery is a major counterweight to the materialism of our culture. When we watch the psyche’s creativity and insight unfold for us every night in our dreams no longer can we believe that matter is all there is in life. Nor can we remain as we were: we grow, we “individuate.”
An active dream practice also helps us to lead the “responsible life” that Jung saw as a consequence of individuation. As we become more and more who we truly are, in the process of individuation, we become more and more conscious of our duties to our community. The process, in other words, does not take us into isolation or estrangement from society, but rather makes us aware of how we all are one, in complex webs of interdependence.


There may be changes underway now in our global reality that seem far beyond our power as individuals to control or even to influence. But this does not mean that we should see ourselves as victims. Nor should we feel there is nothing for us to rely on.
Jung urges us to remember that we can rely on the psyche, our soul, our inner life, our inner guidance. We have within us what we need to feel safe, to prepare for whatever the future may bring, to thrive in the years ahead. The answers we need to the questions we have are not to be found without, in other people or the busy-ness and diversions of our society. Rather, our answers lie within. As Jung said, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
The critical challenges of our time require us to be awake, to become conscious of the unconscious, to plumb the depths of our own hearts and to take the full measure of our being (which is always far, far more than what the ego mind thinks it is). We must turn to our inner wisdom, not to outside “experts.” In these times of widespread confusion and anxiety, it is not for us to be left feeling like Jung’s description of modern man, with “nothing left for him to rely on....”. The psyche is real. Your soul is real. You can rely on it. This is Jung’s great message for us in this challenging time.


Jung, Carl, (1960), ”The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche,” CW 8. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
________ (1959), ”The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious,” CW 9i. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
________ (1959), “Aion,” Collected Works, 9ii. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
________ (1970), “Civilization in Transition,” CW 10. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
________ (1969), “Psychology and Religion: West and East,” CW 11. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
________ (1954), “The Practice of Psychotherapy,” CW 16. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
________ (1976), ”The Symbolic Life,” CW 18. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Keirsey, David & Marilyn Bates (1984), Please Understand Me. Del Mar CA: Prometheus Nemesis Books.
Schumacher, E.F. (1973), Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered. New York: Harper & Row.
Tart, Charles (1987), Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential. Boston: Shambhala.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
Powerful and oh so needed, David.

By the way, my copy of The Red Book arrived today.
Charles Drago Wrote:Powerful and oh so needed, David.

By the way, my copy of The Red Book arrived today.

Excelent Charlie. I do hope you find it revelatory. The paintings by themselves are incredibly powerful imo, and the effort his put into illuminating what was his "soul diary" shows how important he regarded this modus of communication.

Mind you, you need an artists easel to hold the thing when you read, if you don't want the ligaments in your hands and wrists to wear out in double-quick time...:vollkommenauf:
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
I wish we could read it together -- or at least discuss it on a regular basis.

Ideally over a bottle or nine of 1986 Vieux Telegraph Chateau Neuf du Pape.
There is no escape.

Extracted from:

Quote:It remained unclear until very recently exactly how the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos related to the hidden Red Book materials. After Jung's death in 1961, all access to the Red Book was denied by his heirs. Finally in October of 2009, nearly fifty years after Jung's death, the family of C. G. Jung release the Red Book for publication in a beautiful facsimile edition, edited by Sonu Shamdasani. With this central work of Jung's now in hand, we discover that the Seven Sermons to the Dead actually compose the closing pages of the Red Book draft manuscripts; the version transcribed for the Red Book varies only slightly from the text published in 1917, however the Red Book includes after each of the sermons an additional amplifying homily by Philemon (Jung's spirit guide). [The Red Book, p346-54]


Quote:Near the end of his life, Jung spoke to Aniela Jaffe about the Septem Sermones and explained "that the discussions with the dead [in the Seven Sermons] formed the prelude to what he would subsequently communicate to the world, and that their content anticipated his later books. 'From that time on, the dead have become ever more distinct for me as the voices of the unanswered. unresolved and unredeemed.' " [The Red Book, p346 n78] Jung's decision in 1917 to publish this single summary statement from the Red Book writings gives evidence of the importance he ascribed to the Seven Sermons. In this same context, Jung remarked to Aniela Jaffe:

The years … when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life.

Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”




Jung had fluency in Latin, Greek, English and his native Swiss German. Possibly others. His art was to have plumbed the depths and apply them to the heights. From the unconscious to the conscious.

Despite some of the best minds in the world, this anagramma has never been solved. It remains an enduring mystery. And for those who have a mind I would ask that they address it. A solution is overdue, I think.

[quote]an·a·gram (n-grm)

1. A word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase, such as satin to stain.
2. anagrams (used with a sing. verb) A game in which players form words from a group of randomly picked letters.
[New Latin anagramma, from Greek anagrammatismos, from anagrammatizein, to rearrange letters in a word : ana-, from bottom to top; see ana- + gramma, grammat-, letter; see gerbh- in Indo-European roots.]
ana·gram·matic (-gr-mtk) adj.
ana·gram·mati·cal·ly adv.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
Extracted from The Seven Sermons to the Dead

Quote:Sermo VII

Yet when night was come the dead again approached with lamentable mien and said: There is yet one matter we forgot to mention. Teach us about man.

Man is a gateway, through which from the outer world of gods, daemons, and souls ye pass into the inner world; out of the greater into the smaller world. Small and transitory is man. Already is he behind you, and once again ye find yourselves in endless space, in the smaller or innermost infinity. At immeasurable distance standeth one single Star in the zenith.

This is the one god of this one man. This is his world, his pleroma, his divinity.

In this world is man Abraxas, the creator and the destroyer of his own world.

This Star is the god and the goal of man.

This is his one guiding god. In him goeth man to his rest. Toward him goeth the long journey of the soul after death. In him shineth forth as light all that man bringeth back from the greater world. To this one god man shall pray.

Prayer increaseth the light of the Star. It casteth a bridge over death. It prepareth life for the smaller world and assuageth the hopeless desires of the greater.

When the greater world waxeth cold, burneth the Star.

Between man and his one god there standeth nothing, so long as man can turn away his eyes from the flaming spectacle of Abraxas.

Man here, god there.

Weakness and nothingness here, there eternally creative power.

Here nothing but darkness and chilling moisture.

There wholly sun.

Whereupon the dead were silent and ascended like the smoke above the herdsman’s fire, who through the night kept watch over his flock.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
The following is extracted from a longer essay by one John Fraim - the balance of which isn’t necessary to this thread.

Quote:It is one of the strangest books Jung ever wrote and one of his last projects, published when he was seventy-six. Like Mysterium Coniunctionis and all of Jung's late works, Aion was written after his grave illness of 1944 from which he never believed he would recover. When he did survive he felt these years were like a gift, given to accomplish some final purpose in his life. A type of rebirth.

He decided he was going to write the way he wanted to and that his readers would have to make the major effort toward understanding. The book Aion was one of the fruits of this late "rebirth" in Jung's life and for him gave expression to a type of "secret knowledge" he felt he possessed. In a private conversation to Margaret Ostrowski-Sachs, published in Conversations with C.G.Jung, Jung told her:

"Before my illness I had often asked myself if I were permitted to publish or even speak of my secret knowledge. I later set it all down in Aion. I realized it was my duty to communicate these thoughts, yet I doubted whether I was allowed to give expression to them. During my illness I received confirmation and I now knew that everything had meaning and that everything was perfect."

More than Jung writing Aion, the book seemed to write him. Jung remarks in a letter to his good friend Victor White in December of 1947 that he needed to express something but was not sure what it was:

"I simply had to write a new essay I did not know about what...In spite of everything, I felt forced to write on blindly, not seeing at all what I was driving at. Only after I had written about 25 pages in folio, it began to dawn on me that Christ--not the man but the divine being--was my secret goal."

Rather than something planned out like a number of his other works, Jung notes to White that Aion "came to me as a shock" and he felt "utterly unequal to such a task."

If Jung's overall work might be compared to a great cathedral, the "priest" of the cathedral was less concerned with preaching the gospel to others as much as clarifying things in his own mind. After his illness it was therefore a time of deep reflection for Jung. His real life cathedral was his castle on the lake at Bollingen and he left it less and less.

But even for those who chose to make the journey to the Jungian Cathedral, it was still difficult to find the book Aion when they arrived. Rather than command a prominent place near the altar, it was more or less hidden from view. The "bookstore" of the cathedral--that publicity vehicle that parceled out pieces of Jungian thought to the general community--gave prominence to Jung's more accessible books such as Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Psychological Types and Modern Man in Search of a Soul. It left works such as Mysterious Coniunctionis, Answer to Job and Aion for the truly adventuresome to discover on their own terms as they left the main parts of the Jungian cathedral and ventured down into the basement to sift through old brittle, yellowed pages inside dusty boxes.

The book was originally published in German in 1951. The central theme of the work he set felt forced to write, the book he notes that "he set it all down in" and was able to speak his "secret language" contained the broadest scope of anything he had ever written. Its time line was the entire Christian aeon of two thousand years from the birth of Christ to the year 2,000 and the second millennium.

In the Foreword to Aion, Jung tells us that the theme of the book is the change of the psychic situation in the Christian aeon which coincides with the astrological conception of the Platonic month of the fishes or Pisces. Those familiar with astrology may recognize that the notion of the Platonic month is based on the astronomical procession of the equinoxes. The movement of the sun through each zodiacal sign is called the Platonic month. In the spring equinox of around 1 A.D., the beginning of the Christian aeon, the equinox left the sign of Aries and started into the sign of Pisces. Now, 2,000 years later, it is about to leave the sign of Pisces and enter that of Aquarius.

Aion is about this grand two thousand year cycle and the sequences contained within the cycle. Perhaps the best place to start when approaching Aion is with The Aion Lectures by Edward Edinger. These lectures were given at the Jung Institute of Los Angeles between 1988 and 1989 and, like Edinger's Mysterium lectures, also provide a short type of "Cliff Notes" to help one navigate the complex waters of the work.

As Edinger notes in the Forward to his book, "Jung's Aion laid the foundation for a whole new department of human knowledge, a scholarly discipline one might call archetypal psychohistory." It is a discipline based on the insights of depth psychology to the data of cultural history. "The historical process," writes Edinger, "can now be seen as the self-manifestation of the archetypes of the collective unconscious as they emerge and develop in time and space through the actions and fantasies of humanity."

While it is impossible to do justice to this work in the space we have here, we can briefly touch on the broad symbolism Jung approaches in Aion. Pisces is symbolized by the fish and Aquarius by the water carrier. The contextual symbolism is one between the dualities of inside and outside. The fish (Pisces) is contained within water while a water carrier (Aquarius) cannot be contained within water if he is to be a carrier of water. He (Aquarius) must be outside of the water. The aeon cycle therefore represents a change from being controlled by the container to being outside the container.

The fish may symbolize the psyche and Jung seems to be suggesting that the two eons will have a different relationship to the psyche. Jung might be suggesting that the context we have been discussing will evolve into a content and that a new context for humanity will evolve. The contextual symbolism which now contains humanity may be coming to the end of its cycle. The emerging symbolic struggle is to move out of water. As Edinger suggests in The Aion Lectures, with the coming Age of Aquarius "we have the image of a vessel, an allusion to the symbolism of the alchemical vessel and to the capacity to contain the psyche, rather than be contained by it." Instead of being a fish contained in a psychic fish pond, the individual becomes a conscious dispenser of the psyche.

Edinger suggests that Christ may have foreshadowed the age of the water carrier. Both Mark and Luke recount that Christ directed two of his disciples to make preparations for the last supper saying to them, "Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him." (Mark 14:13 and Luke 22:10) The man leads the disciples to the house in which they are to go to the upper room for the Passover meal of the last supper. And Christ was also seen as a water-bearer and water dispenser. To the Samaritan woman at the well he said that if she had asked him for a drink, he would have dispensed eternal living water for her. (John 4:10)

But, as Edinger remarks, the water Christ dispensed did not generate more dispensers. Rather it generated fish contained in the water. The church, Edinger speculates, became the water carrier, the fish pond in which the faithful fish could swim. The great secret knowledge of Jung was the discovery of the containment, the water. "If my reading of the symbolism of Aion is correct," says Edinger, "the aeon of Aquarius will generate individual water carriers." This will mean that the psyche will no longer be carried by religious communities but instead it will be carried by conscious individuals. "This is the idea Jung puts forward in his notion of a continuing incarnation, the idea that individuals are to become the incarnating vessels of the Holy Spirit on an ongoing basis."

In Aion Jung provides the broadest contextual basis for symbolism he ever explored. The symbolic contextualism is the archetype of the God-image (the Self) and how this archetype has progressively revealed itself in the course of the Christian aeon. With the creation of this strange book Jung was finally able to gain a sense of peace in his final years. His secret knowledge was indeed "permitted" to be brought forth into the world. And with it, a foundation for a new science of a symbolism of culture.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
I've been searching the internet for a digital copy of Edward F Edinger's The Aion Lectures. It is not digitally available. I then set out to at least find a copy of Edinger's Preface to this book. That also is not digitally available. Finally, I decided to type a section of the preface and post it myself. It is just three pages of text. Part way through my keyboard exploits, my laptop ran out of power and a warning light came on. I attached my power lead, but that failed quite unexpectedly. What I had typed was completely lost.

Make of it this what you will. I know what I have concluded. If readers wish to read Edinger's book they will have to buy it for themselves. Perhaps it is a necessary personal step that they do so? I think it probably is.

One of the points Edinger made in his preface - of which there are several vital ones, is that he likens Jung's late writings - post Jung's 1944 illness and his "second birth so to speak", to a rich fruit cake. By this he means that one need read Jung the way one eats a fruit cake - very slowly. The "reading is exceedingly rich, exceedingly delicious" and "Aion can only be assimilated in very small bites", because it is the richness of the psyche itself that is being presented.

[Image: 7330_282499000600_803460600_8939432_2706813_n.jpg]
The Mithraic god Aion.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
David Guyatt Wrote:I've been searching the internet for a digital copy of Edward F Edinger's The Aion Lectures. It is not digitally available. I then set out to at least find a copy of Edinger's Preface to this book. That also is not digitally available. Finally, I decided to type a section of the preface and post it myself. It is just three pages of text. Part way through my keyboard exploits, my laptop ran out of power and a warning light came on. I attached my power lead, but that failed quite unexpectedly. What I had typed was completely lost.
Don't you just hate it when that happens? :pcguru:
Thanks for going to all that trouble though David. Some scanners will change the scan into something like a word processing document format which is very handy as you can just edit it a bit on line and post it. Depends on the scanner though. There may be some here with more knowledge of this than myself.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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