“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.
In the psychotherapeutic context, this is a period of withdrawing a little from life, participating just enough to keep things “ticking over,” the main forces being inwards. This enables clients to experience sudden realisations about themselves and they often begin to question their life direction. It is easier to see, in a moment of insight, what is important and what is not. (Hamilton, The Alchemical Process of Transformation)
Another way of looking at this stage would be the appearance of “ah-ha” moments. Up to this point, a lot of time has been spent on the telling of dreams, the recounting of incidents from the past, the detailing of disturbances in the present, and in finding associations between each and all of them. Linkages and explanations are given, and there is a curious dance that begins to play as the information is approached and re-approached through various functions – feeling, thinking, sensate, and intuition. It is often the inferior function that breaks the logjam. There is movement, curious realignment, a change in the way one now perceives a particular piece of one’s story. A light has been turned on, so to speak.
At that moment, the psyche has shifted and one becomes different in real terms. Over time, as various lights come on, the process of transformation seems to speed up as though the psyche is primed to peer into the dark shadows with a flashlight. With the guidance of the therapist, associations are noted. One begins to see the connections between childhood patterns in response to father and mother or other authority (who take on a father or mother symbolism in terms of power). One then learns to see present relationships in the light of what has been exposed.
But, it is not enough to just turn on the lights. Now that one has awareness one is obliged to do something with this awareness.