Archive for the ‘Jung Uncorked: Book Two’ tag
This is a flower that I found on a dirt trail about three kilometres from the villa one morning. I was captured by the delicate nature of the flower, especially how it was in very close proximity, almost entangled with its mate. It reminded me of how a man an a woman are often entangled in each other sometimes to the point of being so enmeshed that they have trouble figuring out who is self and who is other. I guess one could say that they are so “into each other” that there is no room left for self awareness, for being conscious.
In the beginning, a relationship based on love is not a relationship built on consciousness. It is a relationship built on projections and hooks. Both man and woman see the “other” as the ideal that is buried within the unconscious, a projected anima/animus. For me, it was unquestionable, it was love at first sight. Three hours after meeting the woman I was to marry, I proposed and she accepted. What did I “know” about this woman? Nothing and everything; I knew nothing about her as a person, but I knew everything about her that somehow connected to a deep inner place within me. I didn’t need anything more other than the inner confirmation. I guess it was the same for her as she accepted my proposal immediately. Now, decades later we are working at trying to understand, trying to get to know the reality of the other. It is only now that a real relationship is being examined for its possibilities. That said, there is so much still in place that is based on unconscious responses based on complexes.
Young men and women cleave to each other on the whole for instinctive gratification, not because they are enamored of the loved one’s psychology. This may not be all bad, for at least it perpetuates the human race. But the truth is tha the heart-felt words, “I love you,” are generally motivated by physical desire, social standing and the like. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 89)
This is very evident in marriages between young people, but I am finding out here in Costa Rica, that it is no different for those in midlife who have come here alone and soon pair up with a local Costa Rican. The same was seen in China and Mexico. It is enough just to have someone to cling to in order to escape loneliness, to escape too much of being with the “self.” What I am seeing suggests most of the pairing is instinctual, a meeting of needs rather than a conscious assessment of the self and the other in order to establish a relationship based on both parties being conscious. The problems of relationship are not solved in clinging to a new partner if the relationship isn’t based on being conscious of what is going on within self and other. When the needs change and the blinders again fall off, relationship is again doomed. Patty Loveless sings about what remains when projections are withdrawn and one is faced with the stranger they married . . .
“She left the car in the driveway
She left the key in the door
She left the kids at her mama’s
And the laundry piled up on the floor
She left her ring on the pillow
Right where it wouldn’t be missed
She left a note in the kitchen
Next to the grocery list
It said, you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So what do you care if I go
He left the ring on the pillow
He left the clothes on the floor
And he called her to say he was sorry
But he couldn’t remember what for
So he said I’ve been doing some thinking
I’ve been thinking that maybe you’re right
I go to work every morning
And I come home to you every night
And you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So what do I care if you go
You don’t even know who I am
So what do I care if you go”
So, what to do when one feels misunderstood, when one’s needs are not being met, when the feeling is “you don’t even know who I am?” I guess the best place to start is with your “self.” It’s hard to blame the other when even the self is a stranger. Will this solve the problems and allow the relationship to be saved? Well, not necessarily. But, what is the alternative?
“On the whole, depth psychology . . . is suitable more for older couples whose relationships have foundered, run aground, precisely because of the lack of the partners’ self-knowledge. Even later education may not heal a broken relationship, but it can prepare both parties for another kick at the can, without blindfolds. After divorce or separation, they are indeed often ripe to know, open to learn, about the role played by their respective psychologies – typology, projection, complexes, shadow, animus and anima – in their unhappy situation.
I am not suggesting that marriage counseling is the answer, or even individual therapy, though often it is. Truth to tell, becoming conscious is responsible for quite as many break-ups as kiss-and-make-ups. When projections are taken back, there is often nothing or very little , to hold people together.” (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 89)
Ouch! Not too hopeful is it? I guess if nothing, it is about honesty, and that is worth quite a bit in itself. At least in becoming more conscious one one’s self, one is able to avoid most of the blind mistakes as one moves through what remains of life. It might not be as hopeless as it looks as it all depends on the willingness of both to become conscious and to re-approach each other consciously with the intention of fulfilling the promise of “for better or worse until death do we part.” For, as one learns, it is about balance, not perfection; it is about providing a safe place for both darkness and light within the relationship.
Another sunset photo taken from the front of my little villa here in Costa Rica. In seeing this scene in light of my reading and recent posts, I think of being in a cauldron and being cooked. My ofttimes weird sense of humour takes a tangent and likens it to being in a cooking pot in the South Pacific, surrounded by hungry headhunters wearing bones in their hair. The humour aside, the skies look like they are on fire, logos is threatened. There is definitely a sense of transformational heat at work.
The transformation of Mercurius, as prima materia, in the heated, sealed vessel is comparable to cooking the basic instinctive drives in their own affect until their essential fantasy content becomes conscious. “Instead of arguing with the drives which carry us away, we prefer to cook them and . ask then what they want. . . . That can be discovered by active imagination, or through experimenting in reality, but always with the introverted attitude of observing objectively what the drive really wants.” (von Franz, Alchemy, p. 129)
Moving from conflict to a place of balance. It isn’t all that much different when dealing with others. When we give others the chance to speak, to be heard, we defuse most of the conflict even if we don’t have both parties agree. Why shouldn’t this work with how we deal with complexes and shadowy figures in our dark inner spaces. Perhaps we would feel less the victim of the unknown if we were to cautiously engage with these complexes and shadowy figures.
As I researched for this post, I found this graphic that I have seen a number of times in different books. I located it again in an Internet search. That said, I can’t give the original source of the image. All that I can say is that it is one of a number of images depicting Mercurius. There is definitely a sense of trickster in him. Here is what Daryl Sharp has to say about this guy:
Mercurius is the fly in the ointment, the invisible little guy who ruins your plans. He is mercurial, after all, unpredictable; there’s no telling when he might pop up in your life to turn it topsy-turvy, from driving you into a lamp-post to having a go at the baby sitter. And you can be conscious of his trickster quality and still be at his mercy. . . .
Of course, like any archetypal entity Mercurius embodies the opposites, and so he as a benign side as well. He gets you out of bed in the morning; he gives you ambition, ideas “out of the blue,” a job to do, someone to love, kids to focus on with awe. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 57)
There is no doubt that Mercurius acts within us without our ever being aware of him. Yet, once one begins to dare the alchemical task of individuation, we actually get to sense his presence within rather than blame some factor on the outside, blame some other on the outside. More importantly is to recognise that it isn’t all bad. Perhaps being made a fool at times is for the good, a bit of humility so that we don’t get to filled with ourselves.
Just one small comment about the photo, it was edited using Adobe Photoshop Elements. The photo was created first with no idea on how it would be used or even if it would be used. Then, in my second attempt at a post for the Rubedo phase, I came to realise that a photo of a bird, or a scene, or an artifact could not evoke what I wanted for this post. The original photo taken during a moment of doubt and internal conflict was the closest I could come. It was only after risking the choice of the photo that I then tweaked onto the idea of “reddening” the photo, that I saw that it belonged. Will the photo offend? Likely. There is a chance that I will lose a number of readers here. However, that risk must be taken. It isn’t about appeasing the collective, it is about honouring the self in the hope that in being transparent, more is gained than lost.
So we must press onward to the final stage, the rubedo, which has often been called the ‘Marriage of Luna and Sol’, the fusion of the human and divine, the union of the personality (Luna) with the essential Self (Sol). Now the retort can be opened to reveal the philosopher’s stone, the pure gold of Wisdom, the diamond body, the Gnostic Anthropos, the Heavenly Man, Salvator, filius macrocosmi; by whatever name it has been called, there now stands forth the divine original man, long buried and forgotten in the very centre of our being.[Jung, CW 12, p. 256)
Hidden in these words is the key, “the fusion of the human and divine.” How do I understand this? Well, in honesty I have two different understandings. One suggests that the spirit and soul become one, where spirit is consciousness and soul is unconsciousness giving one a state of wholeness – holiness. Here are a few more words, this time from Daryl Sharp:
Next, the rubedo involves dealing with the opposites – differentiating good from bad, want from need, personal values from those dictated by the collective. Constellated opposites activate in turn the archetype of crucifixion, which is ubiquitous in the Western unconscious, whether we adhere to Christian beliefs or not. In short, we are torn between this and that, in conflict wit ourselves. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, pp 50-51)
Wow! To me this reads like a trial by fire in which the heat gets turned up forcing one to fully strip away all dross and allow the self to emerge purged of fear and doubt. What remains isn’t necessarily a pretty sight in the eyes of others, of the collective. But, it is honest. It is only this way that one can rise from our own ashes, integrated, whole . . . holy.
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.
This is a Crested Caracara also known as the Caracara Eagle, King Buzzard, Mexican Eagle, Audubon’s Caracara, and Mexican Buzzard. I chased this bird up a lot of hills until I was able to get this photo. I have other photos of him but not as good as this one. For me it is interesting how this bird is seen as being a member of the falcon family and yet is referred to as an eagle and a buzzard as well by its own name. Having so many names suggest that he carries a fair number of projections by various groups. Is anyone interested in the true bird or in the collective opinions of the bird?
For me, he is a Crested Caracara, a fellow that is definitely interested in his own privacy and in keeping his distance from others. It is often thought that the buzzard symbolises an angry old man, one who has a short temper; and, there is a sense of darkness, a signal of dark times ahead. However, this doesn’t quite fit with how I understand the psychological presence of this fellow. Yes, there is a pointed awareness of darkness, but this bird is still a bird, a symbol of spirit that soars above and outside of unconsciousness.
So what is this guy pointing to? Well, if I accept that he is pointing to darkness, and I understand that it is only through that darkness that I can find the light, I can accept that this signals an alchemical process. And in alchemy, it is necessary to being with blackening or nigredo.
The nigredo has its parallels . . . in the confrontation with the shadow. Everything which one has criticized, with moreal indignation, in others, is “served up” in dreams as part of one’s own being. envy, jealousy, lies, sexual drives, desire for power, ambition, greed for money, irritability, all kinds of childishness suddenly stare implacably at one, out of one’s dreams. Illusions about oneself and the world fall apart, ideals are revealed as desire for power in disguise, “sacred” convictions as hollow. (von Franz, C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time, pp 222-223; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, p. 49)
Yes, coming to terms with all that we have ever denied about ourselves, that indeed is a descent into darkness. From the birds point of view, it can only get better as one sees the darkness for what it is. Coming clean, being honest with oneself can only lead us out of our own darkness into the light.
I finally got a photo of a Scarlet Macaw that I am satisfied with. obviously, I was able to get quite close to this tame bird. I have quite a number of photos of Scarlet Macaws from a distance in trees and in flight. When I look at this fellow, I get a sense that he is more than aware of me, perhaps even an awareness of things that I think are well hidden from people in general. When I look again, I see a mask for a man that is a bit of a Don Juan, someone who is sophisticated while playing the field, a playboy. Yes, my imagination runs wild with all sorts of ideas.
But, I know that none of this is real. This bird is simply a bird and none of the ideas running though my head have anything to do with the bird. All of these thoughts are projections. Knowing that, I can look at the thoughts, these projections and begin to learn a little more about who and what I am.
Here are a few words from Daryl Sharp on projections:
. . . projections repeat themselves whenever we try to explore an empty darkness and involuntarily fill it in with ourselves – just as we regularly fall in love with a pretty face without knowing who or what is behind it. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 49)
That pretty well sums up what this blog site is about, using photographs as a vessel to receive projections. And as I mentioned in the last two posts, withdrawing projections is the key activity of alchemy in a psychological sense. Psychologically, I can see value in doing this work. However, saying that, this takes a lot of time and energy, time and energy that is limited. So, how much time and energy do I put into this at the expense of the other aspects of my life, at the expense of my wife and children and grandchildren, at the expense of developing and maintaining friendships in community? Trying to find an answer to this question is almost impossible. All that I can say is “What if I don’t take the time to become more conscious of my self?”
I already know the answer to that question – “I self destruct!” Whether it be loss of sanity or loss of will or loss of life, my wife, children, grandchildren and community would have even less of me. Again, a few words from Jung on the subject:
Without consciousness things go less well. (Jung, CW 8, par 695)
Things are worse if I don’t do this work. I am worse if I don’t do this work. It is worse for those around me if I retreat from this journey in search of consciousness. And, this journey in search of consciousness promises not to be an easy journey. Yet, it is a journey that I dare to take, a journey into the unknown in hopes of making it known.
Finally, I got a decent photo of a Turkey Vulture. I was near the top of one of the small mountains not too far from where I am spending the winter here in Costa Rica. The bird is quite different from the Black Vultures which I have been able to photograph at will. Near the end of my hike, just about 100 metres from the villa, I came across another four of these birds. Strange indeed, even synchronistic as I was going to write about the ONE becoming FOUR – the Axiom of Maria which is found in volume 12 of Jung’s Collected Works. Here is the quote:
One becomes two, two becomes three and out of the third comes the fourth. (Jung, CW 12, par. 26)
Now I have a fairly logical and analytical mind and there is no doubt that this quote makes absolutely no sense to me without further commentary to see the context that these words are placed in. Since the quote comes from the volume that deals with the subject of alchemy, my first guess was that this must originally be descriptive of the states of transformation in trying to turn lead into gold. Then in trying to place this in psychological terms, I thought that perhaps this about the transformation of the psyche.
This is what Daryl Sharp has to say about the Axiom of Maria.
In brief, one stands for the original, paradisiacal state of unconscious wholeness (e.g. childhood); two signifies the conflict between opposites (e.g. persona and shadow); three points to a potential resolution; the third is the transcendent function; and the one as the fourth is code for the Philosopher’s Stone – psychologically equivalent to a transformed state of conscious wholeness. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 51)
This helps somewhat, especially the first two parts. Perhaps that is because I am still stuck in the conflict of opposites phase. At my age, this is a bit worrisome if this was some sort of test to be passed. I’d likely run out of time before I could achieve the final state of conscious wholeness. When I was in Varanasi, India, a young man took the time to explain how Hinduism divided life into four stages or ashramas: Brahamacharya, the student stage, is about preparing to become an adult, preparing for a career, for a family and for learning the foundations of spiritual knowledge; Grihastha, the householder stage, is the time to earn money, develop a career, engage in sex and support and raise a family; Vanaprastha, the hermit stage, would be the equivalent of entering midlife, where one has become a grandparent and now is ready to set aside career and responsibilities of raising and caring for children that are now grown and are caring for themselves, it is a time to retreat, to learn to be with self; Sannyasa, the stage of the wandering ascetic, is a period when all is given up and there is no ego need, a time when one has become holy and has merged with God.
In many ways, this appears to be heading in the opposite direction, to a holy state of unconscious wholeness rather than of conscious wholeness. Given two different approaches to the issue of one eventually becoming four, that is transforming into a fourth stage, I turn without hesitation back to the promise of alchemy, a promise of conscious wholeness. In my own way, I will become more conscious that I am now, perhaps not completely conscious; but it will be a journey that I could willingly follow. That said, sometimes there is something very appealing about the third stage of Hindu life, the life of a hermit.
As I was walking down the street as evening was deepening into night, I came across a pair of toads, Cane Toads that were in the ditch. I managed to get a few photographs using flash with this photo being the one that I chose for this post. For me toads and frogs evoke images of swamplands, bogs, sloughs and standing pools of water in ditches.
Frogs also have made an appearance in my life based on my ethnic heritage. I am a French-Canadian and often was called a “frog” by the anglophones. Being called a frog is about being marginalised, about being devalued. I taught my children how to take their power back when being called frog. They learned to respond with croaking sounds and claiming that their favourite colour was green.
Little did I know that this denizen of swamplands would be more of who I really was than that of being French-Canadian. I learned that I was able, like the frog, to move between the dry land of consciousness and the swamplands of the unconsciousness when I began the search for meaning, in search for survival. When I read James Hollis’ book, Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places, I began to appreciate just what was happening to my self. It seemed that the world suddenly became awash in all kinds of books about soul. This is what Jung had to say about what was happening to me:
Among all my patients in the second half of life – that is to say, over thirty-five – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost what the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. (Jung, CW 11, par 509; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 35)
This is where the search for self transforms into a search for soul. There is a need to find meaning, a need to plumb the depths of the unknown in search of something that is greater than what has been the sum total of life as experienced. All the stuff, the relationships, the activities lose their power to sustain and in doing so, they become a poor substitute for life, for explaining life and giving it meaning. There is a desperate need to come to grips with the shadows within, shadows that clamour and shriek in hopes of being recognized as part of self.
And once the journey into the swamplands has validated the existence of something more than the ego, something more than our ego’s agitations in the world, the self begins to burn brighter. Self-discovery has led to a discovery of something greater than self. And it is this which feeds the conscious spirit for it has discovered its mate in the depths of the swampland, the soul.
Those who think that talking about a relationship will help it get better put the cart before the horse. Work on yourself and a good relationship will follow. You can either accept who you are and find a relationship that fits, or twist yourself out of shape and get what you deserve. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 23)
Ouch! There doesn’t seem to be anything fair about this. This photo seems appropriate in illustrating twisting one’s self out of shape in trying to fit where there isn’t a fit possible. As I watched the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean, it made me think of self, giving up on self as it tries to be what the other wants and needs. Another image came to mind as well, that of the union of male and female and the “small death” that follows climax. There is a small death each day when the sun disappears, However, a new day, a sunrise awaits. And in the new day, one again will have the choice to make of accepting who one is or denying who one is. It isn’t a one time opportunity. We are faced with choice each day, faced with choice with each interaction.
With any luck, the relationship you are in will also be the relationship that fits. If not, what are you going to do about it?
This is a photo of a Groove-Billed Ani, a strange looking bird as you can see. I have other photos of this bird, but this was the first one I got that didn’t involve power lines. One thing I have noticed about this bird is its tendency to sit in the sun with his wings spread wide, soaking up the sun’s rays. In a way, he reminds me of myself here in Costa Rica with my own wings spread wide in order to soak up the sun.
Soaking up the sun is not simply about getting tanned all over, it is about being filled and about being emptied at the same time. It is about working on relationship with my “self.” Strange how this working on one’s self has the added bonus of being at work on relationship with other as well.
Here is what Sharp has to say about working on relationship:
You work on relationship by shutting your mouth when you are ready to explode; by not inflicting your affect on the other person; by quietly leaving the battlefield and tearing your hair out; by asking yourself – not your partner – what complex in you was activated, and to what end. The proper question is not, “Why is she doing that to me?” or “Who does he think he is?” but rather, “Why am I reacting this way? Who do I think he or she is?” And more: “What does this say about my psychology? What can I do it?” (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, 2008, p. 22)
There is some very important stuff in what Sharp says. What it doesn’t say is the fact that the relationship is even more complicated that this, that there is not only the sorting out of self, anima and with withdrawing of projections that a man is responsible for; there is also the same dynamic that needs to take place on the part of the woman in the relationship, her work on self, animus and the withdrawing of projections. Given that all of this takes place, there is no guarantee that the relationship will survive as the two individuals may decide that staying together isn’t in the best interests of either party.
Is all of this worth the effort? Why not just let sleeping dogs lie and suck it up and go on with life as it is? Well, it just doesn’t work that way. Once the box has been opened, there is no turning back. Is it better then never to address the issues of the shadow, the anima/animus and the rest of the contents of the unconscious? Is it better to deny the urge to self discovery?
Perhaps. If one can avoid the inner world and only focus on the outer world, it might save a world of grief. Perhaps it would help if one was an extravert. But, for myself, an introvert, it isn’t possible. I would go crazy and self-destruct. I would lose my soul. And so, I begin to work on relationship in earnest by first getting to know more about my self, my complexes, the faces of anima, the reflections of self that appear in others through projection. Then, I will see how relationship with others in my face-to-face world are also transformed. I will see how relationships stand the alchemical heat.