Archive for the ‘archetype’ tag
Grow up! Stop being a two-year old! Stop being such a baby! Be a man! What kind of man are you? Stop asking my permission! Grow some balls!
Before I even begin to write this blog post, I realise that it will take quite a bit of space and time to get it all said. After the last post, about the need to be authentic and transparent, I know that this is one area that I need to stop avoiding. Every man who has ever been in a relationship, if that man is honest with himself, knows that his partner is more than just a physical person. I am married, yet at times I become a child with my wife. Consciously I know she is my wife and that I am enjoying her physical and psychological presence as my wife, as my love-mate. Yet there are things going on beneath the surface that we both become dimly aware of – something uncomfortable lurking beneath the surface. And we may or may not give voice to what we sense. My wife has no problem telling me that I leave her feeling as if she is my mother rather than my wife at times. that I have, at least for a moment, become a child. At times I hear her call me Papa, moments where I am a dependable authority who will make the good decisions needed for the questions that are ready to be asked. Both of us shift out of our relationship as husband and wife, and become mother and father and for the most part, we are unaware that it has even happened. And truth be told, we both vehemently deny the appearance of the inner child into our relationship with each other. In other words, we are normal people in a relationship, not unlike every other relationship that exists in some fashion.
What has appeared for both of us, are complexes; a mother complex for me and a father complex for her. We all have complexes and they almost always show up in our relationships with people; intimate relationships, friend relationships, work relationships, community relationships. Whenever we find ourselves reacting with energy to another person, a complex has been activated. There are all manner of complexes that lurk beneath the conscious surface. But rather than try to list most of them here, I want to focus on just one, the mother complex. Why this complex and not a different complex? Well, it is this complex that is messing up quite bit of my psychic life – and actively since the death of my mother just over a year ago. With that said, it’s time to begin.
Before there comes into being, a mother complex, there is something beyond our personal experience of mother. Of course there is the instinct of mothering in each woman and of being mothered, by all infants. The role seems to exist outside of the limits of any one, single female. C.G. Jung called this bigger than life mother, the Archetypal Mother. It is the psychic source from which each woman takes her turn, should life allow, at being a mother whether it is intentional or not. Even women who never bare children slip into the role of mother, sometimes consciously, most times unconsciously, during her life. Every child exists because there is a mother. So much for the background of the mother archetype. If you want a fuller understanding, the pdf that is linked above will likely provide enough before heading into the depths of Jung’s work for a more complete understanding. It is enough for now to say that in spite of the reality of my biological mother, there is/was more going on within me which has made its way into my relationships.
Daryl Sharp, in his book, Getting To Know You, takes some time to explain how complexes such as the Mother Complex, limit our ability to relate to another person.
“To the extent that we’re still unconscious of ourselves, so we are limited in our ability to relate psychologically to another person.
Let me put it another way: whatever aspects of ourselves we’re not conscious of, we’re apt to see in someone else. The question is, are we then relating to that person at all, or to an unconscious side of ourselves?” [Sharp, p. 29]
There is so much more to say, but I have to be patient and approach this without trying to say it all at once. But before I leave today’s post, I want to end with some words from Jung, words which will serve as a direction sign post for where this will take me, as well as where I have already been.
“Complexes interfere with the intentions of the will and disturb the conscious performance; they produce disturbances of memory and blockages in the flow of associations; they appear and disappear according to their own laws; they can temporarily obsess consciousness, or influence speech and action in an unconscious way. In a word, complexes behave like independent beings.” [Jung, CW Volume 8, par. 253]
One of the hardest things that I am forced to confront about my ego self is a tendency to be stubborn and hold onto things and ideas as if they were carved in concrete. Growing older, my body is telling me just how absurd this is.
“. . . there is a widespread notion that the ancient Gods can provide models of identity and sexuality for boys and men, while the Goddesses provide such models for women and girls. The origins of the notion are obvious: the Gods are felt to be masculine archetypal essences that have a bearing on males, while the Goddesses represent feminine styles appropriate for women. However, this simple equation is mistaken, mainly because the Gods and Goddesses represent metaphorical possibilities within the human psyche, and cannot be neatly parcelled out to this or that gender. The masculinity of the Gods and the femininity of the Goddesses must not be equated with the maleness of men and the femaleness of women. To make such an equation is to engage in concrete or literal thinking . . .” [Tacey, Remaking Men, p. 22]
As I grow older, I am engaging more in the feminine aspects of who I am under my skin that is lined with wrinkles and creases that accumulate as I age. It isn’t so easy for me to maintain the certainty of my masculinity though there is no disputing my maleness. It wasn’t that long ago that I truly did look only to the ancient Gods in my attempts to understand my self. Thanks to all the Gods and Goddesses for waking me up and coming to understand that all of you are buried somewhere in the shadowy spaces within my psyche
While waiting for some books I have placed on hold to be freed for me to download from my e-library, I have decided to read one of the e-books I bought last autumn for those “in case moments.” I bought a number of e-books that focused on Jungian psychology and Buddhism so that I wouldn’t have to haul around too many heavy books while travelling. I already own these books as either paperback or hard-cover books and have read most of them. The book I decided to read (re-read actually) is by Robert A. Johnson, a book called, He. It is a little book of only 63 pages long and it was meant to be a reference for the “masculine” series of posts. Te be honest, I had forgotten just how good the book really is. As I began reading, not having the highlights and underlined passages from my hard copy of the book in front of me, I felt like I was discovering new territory. I felt as if I was an old fashioned hero on a quest for hidden treasures.
It didn’t take too long into the Introduction for me to find the first treasure.
“We must remember that a myth is a living entity, and exists within every person. You will get the true, living form of the myth if you can see it as it spins away inside yourself. The most rewarding mythological experience you can have is to see how it lives in your own psychological structure.” [p. 4]
For me, this is particularly important as I sometimes take myth too literally. I am reminded that the myth is a universal representation of the human psyche filling somewhat the same role as a dream which is more of a cross between the universal and the personal psyche.
Johnson’s book is about the masculine and uses the myth of the “Grail” and “Parsifal” as ways to understand the masculine psyche.
“The Grail myth speaks of masculine psychology. This is not to say that it is confined to the male, for a woman participates in her own inner masculinity, though it is less dominant for her. We must take everything that goes into the myth as part of ourselves. We will have to cope with a dazzling array of fair damsels, but must see them too as parts of the masculine psyche.” [ibid]
Now that I have been re-oriented, I find myself wondering where this journey will take me. I know that as I continue reading I will continue to turn the microscope that Johnson is using on the tale, to peer within myself, to shed some light and perhaps understanding about my own wounding and growth into mature masculinity, into a whole, healthy man. I might be getting old, but I am still willing to dig into the depths and undo some of the fetters that have delayed the development my masculine psyche.
Right now, it is time to return to the book. I will be back later to share more of the treasures I find on this journey.
Another sunrise photo taken in Corozal, Belize, however this time the photo was taken by my wife while I was meditating in the garden just a few metres away. I decided to bring this photo here for a few reasons. First, there are shadows in this image that contrast to the light of the rising sun. Second, my meditating au naturel only a few feet away was in a way, an act that was prompted by shadow. Why do I say prompted by shadow? Well, meditating in full view of passers-by is something I would never have consciously done in the past. Always it was something to be done in an isolated situation, usually behind closed doors and closed drapes – even when it was done fully clothed. To meditate in full view of passers-by wearing nothing but the rays of the sun would have never even been considered let alone attempted. Of course, meditation in the tropics is vastly different from meditation back in my home community. There, the context of community has me retreat from public awareness. Few know that I meditate, none have seen me meditate, and perhaps even fewer would accept the notion of meditation skyclad. That I have become aware of this has shifted the behaviour from shadow to consciousness. That is, I have integrated that denied aspect of myself and now live it as fully and honestly as I can. I could have chosen not to integrate this aspect of self, a shadow face of myself, pushed it back. But I have learned that to do so would only end up in some eruption of negative behaviour, that would shock not only others, but myself as well.
In preparation for today’s post on the shadow, I came across these words written by Megge Hill Fitz-Randolph at Suite 101
“There is, indeed, an actual shadow-like energy that exists hidden from conscious mind yet contributing to the overall shape of the personality. This is what in psychological terms is meant by the shadow. It has become so popular in the lexicon it is worth understanding in more depth.
What Is Hidden
According to Carl Jung, the shadow is that part of the personality one chooses not to see. Usually of a vulgar, shameful, or corrupt nature, the shadow is comprised of whatever one cannot uphold in one’s idea of oneself. Not being integrated or even acknowledged by conscious mind, the shadow sits and waits in the unconscious.” [Fitz-Randolph "What is the Shadow in Jungian Psychology," July 2008]
When the shadow is not honoured, recognized, the self suffers. I know for myself, that suffering has often taken the form of depression and a brooding, quiet, resentful anger. At times I would find myself acting out inappropriately only to then become shamed by what I might have said or done or of doing. My dreams tortured me by showing me what I was capable of in terms of behaviour and attitudes that seemed antithetical to my very being. In waking life, I am a prude, but in dreams I end up doing things that would make pimps and whores blanche. These dreams tortured and left me doubting my sanity. I felt fully unworthy of my life partner, unworthy even to be father to my children. Rather than continue to deny these eruptions of shadow, I took them to my analyst, shared them with my partner and hoped for the best in terms of my children.
Today, the pressure of the shadow has lessened because of this work. Stalking the shadow, my shadow, has allowed me to return to life as a more conscious person. There is a long way to go but at least I am on the right road, the path of individuation.
“As no popular culture has built itself upon the idea of romance more than twentieth-century [and 21st] America has, so no one has founded itself on more shifting ground. A necessary corollary, then, is that no culture has more set itself up for disappointment than the one which seeks its affirmation in projection, illusion and delusion.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 45]
As I have said a number of times before, Romantic love for a man is projected love, a love based on one’s response to one’s personal mother and to the activated anima archetype that represents the feminine, the archetypal lover and mother and whore. Beneath this gossamer web of projection lies a real woman who either accepts and joins in the fantasy of Romantic love, or rejects it and walks on in her life in search of her Magical Other. When all aligns as it will and should, two souls are joined as one, similar to the images of sun and moon together or the yin-yang which has the two in a perpetual dance always reaching and retreating at the same time.
This image has blurred edges that face each other, barely discernible faces in dialogue with each other while the self lives oblivious to the presences of shadow and anima, the unknown masculine and feminine archetypes that pull and push. With time, the pushing and pulling forces a man to begin to question himself and his Magical Other who is also suffering the tidal forces of her shadow and her animus. First one, then the other feels betrayed as their Magical Other becomes less magical and more human.
”the public face that hides a thousand cuts. For how many couples grow roughly in the same direction at roughly the same pace? Seldom do both perceive life at the same level of consciousness or possess equal capacity to process difficult matters. More often, one partner has outgrown the unconscious premises of the relationship while the other clings to the original implicit bargain. The former feels frustrated, depressed; the other feels anxious and controlling. My experience has been that most often it is the woman who seeks change and growth.” [Hollis, pp 44-45]
And whether it is the man or the woman, the sense of being alone again, like this young palm tree above, is brings the pain of loss; a loss of the Magical Other and often a corresponding loss of the marital partner. When the marriage holds together in spite of the loss, the face of the marriage rarely betrays that loss. Rarely does the public face of a marriage match the psychic reality beneath that surface when projections fall away revealing the scarred, scared and complexed individuals that have been joined in the marriage.
As I lay beneath the rays of the sun on the beach in Puerto Morelos allowing my body to darken without tan lines, I listen to music on my mp3 player. While listening to the music with the waves rolling onto the shore, the time passes quickly making it easier to be still and at peace, my mind was caught by one song I had listened to many times, Bruce Springsteen singing Secret Garden. I knew immediately as I listened that the song had touched something much deeper than normal. I knew that the song would become today’s post. I wasn’t yet sure, nor am I now as I am writing, exactly what I would say. Before going further, I want to put the song here. The lyrics will be added at the end of the post for those who want to have them in text form.
I know that I typically write about the feminine on Wednesdays, but this deserves being brought here a day early. With the words that talk about being allowed “in her house” should one come during the night immediately brought to mind the she that is a man’s anima. This mystical woman of the Secret Garden is the Magical Other to whom we sewomb farch for in our wives, consorts, our significant others. Of course, no human female can hold all of this and stay sane. At some point we have to realise that this Magical Other is found within our own psyche, not projected out onto other humans. Think of the Garden of Eden, the womb of humankind where the essence of all that is masculine and all that is feminine unites in a holy marriage; a garden where Ego gets in the way, and effectively destroys the garden. This is the guiding principle of individuation in Jungian Psychology, and in Buddhism. We must learn to set the narrow limitations of ego aside and allow the fullness of our psyche to escape from the shadows.
Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen
She’ll let you in her house
If you come knockin late at night
Shell let you in her mouth
If the words you say are right
If you pay the price
Shell let you deep inside
But there’s a secret garden she hides
Shell let you in her car
To go drivin round
Shell let you into the parts of herself
Thatll bring you down
Shell let you in her heart
If you got a hammer and a vise
But into her secret garden, don’t think twice
Youve gone a million miles
How fard you get
To that place where you can’t remember
And you can’t forget
Shell lead you down a path
Therell be tenderness in the air
Shell let you come just far enough
So you know she’s really there
Shell look at you and smile
And her eyes will say
Shes got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away
And I will begin today’s post with some words from David Tacey:
“The problem with surface-level intellectual discourse is that it fails to see the extent to which the archetypes of ‘slow-moving planets’ influence our lived experience. Much sociology of masculinity and gender theory strikes me as hopelessly inadequate; it calls for change and demands instantaneous release from stereotypes without even beginning to reckon with the powerful archetypes that regulate our lives, all the more powerful for not being seen by the intellectuals. … <snip> … It is astonishing how often we are told that masculinity is merely a construct of society, one that can be exploded simply if we stop believing it.” [Tacey, Remaking Men, pp 9-10]
Of course, it is hard to understand what one can’t see, that is, archetypes. Sociology and most psychologies don’t have any room for more than is on the surface, that is the experiences from conception to adulthood, in their attempts to understand the masculine. For a while [and still for too many] there was the belief that if we treated baby boys as gender neutral, then the issue of negative masculinity would simply disappear.
Perhaps even better, have male infants never exposed to toys that are male-oriented, such as toy guns, cars, etc. Add to that the play experiences which instil gentle cooperation in place of competition. We have been trying this as a society for several decades with little, if any, improvement in the issue of masculinity, or the erosion of patriarchy. Rather, we have created more business for counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Now, more than ever, men find themselves disoriented in the world and at a loss to understand who they are as men.
The need to go into depth is vital if we are to construct a societal approach to helping young males become psychologically healthy men. For, it is only through becoming psychologically healthy that we will ever be able to move away from the unconscious participation in patriarchy. The archetypes, that is, the energies that lie buried in the collective psyche of humans that contain the codes for understanding how we relate to both the masculine and the feminine.
Awareness of the archetypes and their place in the psyche allows a person to begin to know themselves, a beginning that is expanded upon when one realises that the movements of the archetypes within the psyche are found in their projections onto others. How does one react to authority figures? How does one react to passive men, passive women? What type of person is one: introvert, extrovert. How and does one have one’s energies (anger, joy, fear, etc.) activated? These are vital questions that will guide one to awareness of the archetypes that are at work. Armed with this knowledge, it them becomes possible to change one’s personal relationship dynamics. And through the change of the personal by enough people, the collective dynamic shits.
I chose this picture today for another post on shadow for a few reasons, one of those reasons being the idea of the ego at the centre, ego being light. As one looks out at the world, the further one gets from the immediate centre surrounding the conscious self, the less clearly, the less conscious one is with regards to what is out there. Looking out from the conscious centre, one sees others, but doesn’t see that behind these others lay shadows that reach into the depths where there is nothing but darkness. One could turn that conscious gaze inwards and get to meet ephemeral images of what are best described as archetypes, presences in the collective unconscious, primordial images that arise from the energy that associated with humans and humanty. If this image tells it like it is, then even these archetypes lose their distinctness in the darkness of what is, perhaps the cosmic unconscious, the unconscious that so many religions and philosophies have called God, the chaos from which all that is both animate and inanimate have arisen.
While conscious, awake with eyes open to the light, it is next to impossible to see one’s shadow. It is only as we cast furtive glances out of the sides of the eyes that we sense that we see something there. We have only what we know exists. We know we exist – our ego tells us us this much. We craft and control disguises that we present to the world as we relate to others, disguises called persona. And, we know, but can’t quite seem to prove that there is a shadow lurking, stalking us seemingly waiting for us to let go of control before it overtakes us. Who is stalking whom?
“Let’s look at the overall picture. Ego, persona, shadow. In Jung’s model of the psyche, these are three major complexes among a whole lot of others. Each has a say in what we are, the way we function, the way we move through the world. The big question is, what do they have to do with psychological relationship? [Sharp, Getting To Know You, p. 43]
I think it is rather obvious to almost all of us how our ego [consciousness] has a huge role to play in how we relate to others. We choose who we relate to as well as how we will relate to them. In our various life roles [father, husband, colleague, boss, employee, etc.] we moderate the way we relate, we limit and control just how much of us we will allow others to see of our true, authentic selves. Not so obvious is the role of shadow. Somehow, beyond my control, and your control, without our even being aware of what is going on, the shadow puts in an appearance in our relationships. We do things and say things that we have no intention of doing or saying. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we have done and said these things after the fact, we deny them vigorously wondering why these people in our lives would tell us these lies.
“Why did you do that?” the wife asks her husband.
“Do what?” he responds confused about what she is talking about.
“You know very well what I am talking about. Why did you do it? You knew it would upset me.”
Even more confused and beginning to be a bit angry at being accused of some unknown crime, he answers, “I don’t have a damn clue what you’re talking about. Stop talking in riddles. What the hell am I being accused of doing now?”
The shadow had put in an appearance and both the husband and wife are left to sort through the litter left in its wake. They are confused and begin to doubt the quality and the strength of their relationship, and at the same time begin to self-doubt. Both Jung and Sharp have nailed it. We are very complexed beings and that complexity shows up in relationship with others who finally give us a chance to see an image of the shadow through the eyes of a person with whom we engage in relationship.
I am going to try something different today, a different approach to evoking a sense of consciousness and the unconscious. As I was meditating this morning, images emerged and vague presences that might be called words or thoughts. The first image that appeared was that of a mother nursing her child – I was the child looking up into the eyes of this Magical Other person who was my key to life. And in being there as child and as observer, being nursed, I saw the origin of a Mother-complex, a complex that was neither good nor bad, but simply was. I could feel the love of the mother who was nursing me, nursing all the children of the world who were fortunate enough to be nursed. But I also could feel the unconscious shadows that hovered over that mother, that distracted her, that at times saddened her and caused her fear. At times, I could even sense her anger, her own darkness. And, I knew the source and origin of the Dark Mother.
And then the image shifted to darkness, the time before birth into the world, the time of the womb. Though the Mother knew I was there, she was fully unconscious of how I was developing, how I was growing, what was happening within me that was preparing me for the birth of my personal consciousness. All this was taking place in darkness, within the womb, unconsciously. The image shifted again, even further back in time to the instance before conception. Whatever it is that was potentially I was in two parts, the seed of the feminine and the fertilizing material of the masculine. Separated there was no life. Yet in that darkness where life didn’t exist, the two parts drew together and out of the darkness within the Mother, the spark of life was created.
Another shift, this time a different scene appeared. Appeared is a poor word for there was no light any where. All was darkness. I knew I had been taken back even further and was now floating in the space before creation, when the universe was only darkness, where light didn’t exist. I knew in an instant that I was in yet a different womb, the womb of the universe before there was life or light. Yet, though there was nothing to be seen, nothing to be felt, tasted, smelled, sensed, intuited, there was a pregnant possibility that was unconsciously just waiting for a shift in the emptiness and darkness. That time of pregnant pause before light and life would appear signifying the event of creation was nothing but chaos. Within the womb of the universe that was to be born, energies swirled without conscious intention. It was as if the universe yet to be was holding its breath, waiting for that magical moment when something would be born – consciousness, life, light.
And I was there, waiting, waiting for the essence of whatever was to be, a masculine essence, swam blindly in the darkness on a journey that was fully unconscious, not yet instinctual either. And I knew that I was in the womb of the All, the One. I knew then that the creator of light and light was the unconscious feminine, the Great Mother. With another breath, I rose from the depths of my morning meditation and came here.
I have written earlier that patriarchy is destructive of both men and women. It is important to remember this. It is also important to understand that in spite of many modern men becoming sensitive and heart-based, patriarchy is still thriving. Men might be abdicating their authority to their wives, to their mothers, but this abdication does nothing to dismantle the negative power of patriarchy. All one has to do is to take a good hard look at our corporations, our assemblies, our religions – any of our social and economic enterprises – and see that men are still in charge.
So what is a man to do? Jung suggests:
“. . . if the connection between the personal problem and the larger contemporary events is discerned and understood, it brings release from the loneliness of the purely personal, and the subjective problem is magnified into a general question of our society. In this way, the personal problem acquires a dignity it lacked hitherto. [jung, CW 6, par. 119]
These are powerful words for modern men to hear. The work of becoming more conscious of oneself has done a lot to bring a sense of balance between the power of the mind and the power of the heart. Being stuck in one or the other leaves us disconnected from a larger life. If we are truly interested in acquiring balance then we must see that the society within which we live is a part of us. Patriarchy is a part of who we are. We have to own it rather than see it as an enemy somewhere out there, a collective shadow that needs to be attacked and destroyed.
We need clear eyes, head and heart if we are to find a way through the darkness that is patriarchy. Patriarchy is our shadow, our collective unconscious. We need to listen to the gods and goddesses of mythology, we need to listen to our dreams, we need to listen to our children and our women; we need t listen to their pain, their arguments, their logic and heart. We need to also listen to the spiritual voices without getting caught in their webs of timelessness, a web that would have us wait with calm and abiding patience. And, we need to listen to our bodies.
It seems a task almost beyond what I am capable of doing. But it is a task that I must do, that each of us must do. Joseph Campbell has helped show the way with his book, Hero of a Thousand faces. We are each heroes bent on crossing through the darkness of patriarchy; are collectively one larger hero. Our future as men and women depend on crossing through the darkness if we are to deconstruct patriarchy before patriarchy deconstructs our very home, the planet earth.