Archive for the ‘albedo’ tag
“From the darkness of the unconscious comes the light of illumination, the albedo. (Jung, Mysterium Coniuntionis, paragraph 220)
Awareness. How often do we avoid it in spite of our protestations otherwise? If one dares to look outside oneself, one is able to see the reflections of oneself in the world and in others. But to have the ability to see these reflections, one has to remove the filters and the shades that cover consciousness. Needless to say, this is easier said than done.
Let me step back a bit to talk about darkness and light. In all of our stories concerning the creation of the world and all life, we are told about an all encompassing darkness in which there is no knowledge, no awareness of anything, no life. Somehow, out of the darkness light is born and with that light, life.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (The Holy Bible, “Genesis,” 1:1-4)
But of course, that is just the beginning of the story. Without light, there is nothing that is firm, nothing that is definable. There is no foundation upon which we can sense ourselves or the outer world around us. We hide, fearful in the darkness, without looking at that darkness, doing our best to deny that darkness. We are victims of that darkness. Rather than sink into the darkness and become one with it, we build walls to deny the darkness walls which do little other than delude ourselves of the reality of who and what we are. And then, someone turns on a light and all is exposed. Now, we are in deep shit.
“And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it . . . (The Holy Bible, “Genesis,” 2:16-17)
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be gods, knowing good and evil.” (The Holy Bible, “Genesis,” 3:5)
“And the eyes of them both [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they knew that they were naked . . .” (The Holy Bible, “Genesis,” 3:7)
And this is the dilemma we face in turning on the light, we get to see our deficits as well as our perfections. And for some strange reason, we are drawn to our deficits, our warts and sores. But now in the light, we are confronted with ourselves and we don’t like what is exposed as we stand naked to our own consciousness.
On the shores of the Tarcoles River, not too distant from where I live here in Costa Rica, I found quite a few Black-Necked Stilts. Interesting to me is the bird’s head which reminds me of the Yin-Yang symbol, a symbol that represents a few polarities; and, that of consciousness and the unconscious, the masculine and the feminine. I am bringing this photo here as it symbolises for me the shift from nigredo to albedo, from the confrontation of the shadow.
The second stage in the alchemical process is called “albedo.” It is important to note that this is a “whitening” process, not necessarily the “white” stage. Thus, the reason for this photo which shows both black and white. I will return back to Marie-Louise von Franz for a good description of this stage in the alchemical process.
In the alchemical work of the nigredo is followed by the albedo. This phase corresponds in the individuation process to the integration of the inner contrasexual components, the anima in the case of a man, the animus with a woman. (von Franz, C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time, p. 223; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, p 50)
Marie-Louise von Franz here uses this information while talking about the psychoanalytic process and the relationship between the analyst and the analysand. But, if we look at this stage in a bigger picture, we can extend it to be more than the integration of the animus or anima; we can see it to be the integration of complexes in general. Remembering that the nigredo was about confronting the shadow, the albedo becomes dealing with what one learns in that confrontation. Hopefully, we learn enough to accept that we own the shadow thus allowing ourselves to withdraw projections. In doing this, we own our complexes and in turn lessen the power of the unconscious to act for us without our awareness. Of course, we know that we can’t master all of this unconscious contents as enough of it is tied into a larger, collective unconsciousness.
I am beginning to see that alchemy is not so esoteric and has become just a way of understanding what is happening to me as I consciously engage with the uncovering of my shadow side. There is no doubt in my mind that in following this path I will become a healthier person, more whole. It’s not perfect, but it is better than what was.