Archive for the ‘numinosity’ tag
A second photo from the series taken at Ta Promh, a group of buildings and temples near Angkor Wat, shoes how trees have wrapped themselves around doors, walls and windows of one of the temple structures. I took the photo in the late afternoon, a time when light coats everything with a sheen of gold. Though the scene is one of abandonment and decay, there remains a strong sense of what was in place in the times before abandonment. There is a feel of almost holiness as if this was a once-upon-a-time favoured place of the gods.
As I look at the photo, I almost sense a heaviness, a depression. Yes, this is a holy place, but the intent of ego which was responsible for building the temple has been overthrown. The gods have responded to the ego and not in the expected manner. As Hollis would explain it, “the ego’s agenda is overthrown” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 109). What is it that overthrows the intentions of ego, the plans of men and women? Listen to Carl Jung’s thoughts on this matter:
“I know of the existence of God-images in general and in particular. I know it is a matter of a universal experience and, in so far as I am no exception, I know that I have such experience also, which I call God. It is the experience of my will over against another and very often stronger will, crossing my path often with seemingly disastrous results, putting strange ideas into my head and maneuvering my fate sometimes into most undesirable corners or giving it unexpected favorable twists, outside my knowledge and intention.” (Jung, Letters, vol. 2, pp 522-523)
God then is a personal god, one with which one battles. One knows that this god is present and has a presence that transcends all that one knows. Yet this personal god with whom one wrestles is also bigger than just a personal god for one person. This transcendent otherness is also engaging others and in found in places and within images. One knows this presence through some aspect of self and consciousness that is found only on the edges, a numinosity.
This image holds that sense of numinosity for me. This was a place for the gods, and curiously the photo “glows” pointing back to the gods that have transcended the time and place. And what is left becomes a temple that points to a God transcended, not a god tamed by man, contained by man’s stonework.
This photo was taken near Siem Reap within the Angkor Wat complex. This object in the front right half of the photo is a Buddhist stupa dating from the 12th century, a burial marker or memorial not much different from a modern tombstone. As far as stupas go, this one is rather plain in structure, perhaps due to the fact that the site has suffered over the centuries. The base of this stupa, and most Buddhist stupas, is square in shape with the four sides oriented with the four cardinal directions. The stupa has five elements including the base which represents the earth. The structure rising out of the base symbolizes water, fire, wind, and the void. For more information on the stupa, I will leave it to you to do the research rather than risk making incorrect statements that would miss the real significance of the stupa in Buddhist thought. When I took this photo, I took it with a simpler thought in mind, that of letting it resonate with my psyche. It is enough for my purposes to be aware of the basic symbolism of the stupa.
One of the important points that I omitted talking about above was the fact that within the stupa are artifacts related to an individual. For me, this was vital. The stupa becomes a container for the individual. Images such as this one can lead one back to looking at self from a different point of view. I, like this stupa, am grounded in the world to which I was born, a product of the earth taking from that earth every day and returning bits back to the earth everyday without thought. In the end, I will add my elements back into the earth from which my body arose. My my body is both mineral and water and it is the water which serves as the medium in which the elements of the earth come together to form life, not much different that the amniotic sea within a womb serves as the container in which life is generated. This life is an unconscious life. With the fire of the sun, being born and striving to survive, consciousness develops, consciousness of self and other. It is the interactions of self with the world and with others that eventually lead to an awareness of spirit, something beyond the prosaic aspects of living. One knows it is there and can only feel the spirit indirectly, not much different that wind and air. One knows that air exists though it isn’t seen or felt too often, only when the air stifles, freezes or assaults. The awareness of spirit seems to point beyond to something to big to name, yet at the same time, having no properties that would allow us to validate its existence. In the stupa, that is the void. In me that is the ONE / SELF that contains all that is and all that isn’t; all that is possible as well as impossible,
It started out as a simple photograph. Yet, the symbols the image evokes are so deep that I don’t have the words to communicate the numinousness, the fullness of the symbol. It’s time to take a few more photos in my search for self, for consciousness.
I chose black and white to go with this image. Because of depth of field being narrow, the moon came out as very faint and fuzzy. I have quite a few much better and clearer images of the moon from yesterday afternoon and evening, but this is the one that makes the cut for this post. Why? Because the moon is “faint” in appearance. This view speaks to me of the “numinous.” One knows the presence is there though that knowledge is fuzzy, an archetypal presence. The moon is associated with the feminine, or the mother.
“I attribute to the personal mother only a limited etiological significance. That is to say, all those influences which the literature describes as being exerted on the children do not come from the mother herself, but rather from the archetype projected upon her, which gives her a mythological background and invests her with authority and numinosity.” (Jung, CW 9i, par. 159)
Somehow I am sure that any biological mother who has engaged in raising a child is well aware of the power she has over her child(ren). Sometimes that power is a burden as she is supposed to know everything, to heal everything, to hold everything for the child(ren). It seems that children tap into bigger picture of mother rather easily, unconsciously. But since it is mostly unconscious, all of the archetypal energy is projected onto the personal mother. Having her child(ren) grow up to be conscious and independent adults is a good thing but also a process that leaves her in a depression (empty-nest syndrome) as there is a loss, not just of the presence of the child, but also a loss of her “power,” her “authority” as the projections of her child are withdrawn leaving her stripped bare, exposing her as a vulnerable, fallible, and weak as any other person.
“Our task is not, therefore, to deny the archetype, but to dissolve the projections, in order to restore their contents to the individual who has involuntarily lost them by projecting them outside himself.” (Jung, CW 9i, par. 160)
It sounds simple, but it isn’t simple at all. Few ever completely withdraw their projections. As an adult, we are left with mother-complexes which are a melange of the archetypal and personal mother. Our journey is to rediscover the mother within regardless of our gender. We need to learn how to answer ourselves, how to heal ourselves, how to nourish ourselves – to mother ourselves in our adulthood.
These blossoms appear fairy-like on these trees. Gossamer strands of pink and white call the eye to focus upon them. These blossoms are real aspects of the tree, though their existence is fleeting making one wonder if they are part of the tree’s identity.
This image makes me think of falling in love, how in an instant of time, something beautiful beyond description emerges into life, something fragile and gossamer-like, something so compelling that the other images almost totally disappear into a background which is only there to serve as contrast. And like every other human, I get caught up in this business of love, this feeling-state that defies all attempts at definition.
“The activation of a complex is always marked by the presence of some strong emotion, whether it be love, hate, rage, sadness or joy. Everyone is complexed by something, which is to say, we all react emotionally when the right buttons are pushed. Or, to put it another way, an emotional reaction means that a complex has been constellated. When we are emotional we can’t think straight and hardly know how we feel. We speak and act out of the complex, and when it has run its course we wonder what took over.” (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 39 – note, the emphasis on “love” is mine)
What? The feeling of being in love is a complex? But, but, but! Obviously Jung didn’t understand what I am feeling, what I felt, what any hot-blooded human has always known – how pure the feeling is, how real love is, how perfect the relationship of one heart is to another heart. I protest! Love simply is . . . Okay, so I can’t find the words. Can Jung be wrong here? Why reduce love to being an activated complex?
It is precisely because I can’t find these words that I can sense the presence of a complex. It is true, there is nothing any of my functions can tell me about the nature of love, especially the nature of my being captured by this emotion. How is it that my eyes fell upon a stranger and I fell in love? The only information I had was that which appeared at her appearance. No words were spoken, no information given, no known history, no sense of temperament or of shared interests. It was if I fell in love with a numinous image . . .
And that is exactly what happened. I remember this moment as if frozen forever in time from a moment when I was fourteen years old, travelling across the country with my family, a moment when we stopped in a small town to eat a lunch at a small restaurant before travelling on. The girl whose eyes met mine immediately fell in love with me as well – at least that is what I told myself. An hour later, the town, the restaurant and the girl receded into the past as if just a figment of my imagination. If this was true love, how was it that the gods decided to rip this away from me. Perhaps the gods changed their mind and had decided to wait until a later time and present me with another “true love.” Or perhaps, as Jung suggests, one of my complexes were activated.
This photo was taken in early May as I returned home from a visit to North Dakota. It was supposed to end up in the SoFoBoMo book, but it was saved for this second book. As I am now finished twenty entries with each entry matched with a photo, I am well into the second half of the book. Perhaps it will be finished within the SoFoBoMo time frame as well, that is by June 4th.
The tenth stage of the hero’s journey is called apotheosis. Below is my conceptual understanding of this stage of the inner journey.
Binding the pieces
The tenth stage of the hero’s journey is referred to as apotheosis, which is a state of holiness, of godliness. In Jungian thought, this occurs when there is a sense of wholeness within, when the opposites are united. The term “Self” is described as
“… an archetype of wholeness and the regulating centre of the psyche; a transpersonal power that transcends the ego.” (Sharp, C.G. Jung Lexicon, p. 119, 1991.)
This is different from the “self,” which is best described as the conscious aspect of the psyche, or the ego. In meeting with the mother archetype and the father archetype, and in the meetings gaining a deeper awareness of self, one achieves as sense of wholeness. One recaptures those aspects which had been split off, banished into the shadows of the unconscious. Now, in the light, one begins to piece together the fragments and rebuild the core of one’s self. The resultant wholeness is holiness.
As Daryl Sharp goes on to explain,
Experiences of the (S)elf posses a numinosity characteristic of religious revelations. Hence Jung believed there was no essential difference between the (S)elf as an experiential, psychological reality and the traditional concept of a supreme deity. (Sharp, C.G. Jung Lexicon, p. 120, 1991.)
Imagine how it must feel to banish the dragons which have made one feel insignificant, as worthless. Imagine winning the power held by those dragons. In the journey through the darkness of the soul, one faces many dragons or demons. As they are exposed to the light, they cease being powerful, they become conscious aspects of self. And, in the process, one connects beyond the personal shadow and senses being a part of the whole. Therein lays the relation with what is best known as God, a God who is found within.
And this is an idea that has been at the centre of Christianity for two millennia: “The kingdom of God is within you.” (John 17:21), and “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you.” (Corinthians 3:16)