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“I found [my soul] again only through the soul of the woman.”
– C.G. Jung

Carl Jung wrote in The Red Book about coming to know his own soul through relationship with an other. According to author Thomas Moore, our deepest connections with others often teach us the most about ourselves and lead to our greatest development as individuals.

What is a soul mate?

“All of our relationships may be soulful to various degrees,” Moore said. “So you may have a friend that is very close to you, and you could call them a soul mate, even though they’re not a lover.” In his extensive study on the history of the soul, including what it is and how it’s been written about, Moore found that “when you look at Western history, in almost all the books, every spokesperson for soul has written about friendship as being the best model for a soulful relationship. So even if you’re lovers or spouses, the friendship dimension is probably the most soulful aspect.”

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“A soulmate is someone to whom we feel profoundly connected, as though the communicating and communing that take place between us were not the product of intentional efforts, but rather a divine grace.” – Thomas Moore

“I understand that when people use the term “soul mate” they mean something very special and specific,” Moore said. “I like the idea that people begin to think in more mystical ways about relationship when they think of soul mates. So when you think of a relationship as being destined from eternity, I think it’s really good to shroud your relationship with that.” However, Moore also noted the importance of looking beyond the mystical to face aspects of relationship which can be difficult. “That doesn’t mean that it’s not a human relationship too. If the time comes that you need to end the relationship, you have to be able to do it; you can’t stay with the romantic mysticism of the soul mate idea. So there’s a side to soul that’s very challenging and has a lot of shadow. It takes a lot of work and courage to stick with it.”

One reason for this, Moore said, is because “a soul mate is not the same as compatibility. I don’t think those two things necessarily go together. There may be all kinds of things in ordinary life where you’re not compatible at all.” Some reasons one may feel incompatible a soul mate include poor timing, or an inability to reconcile the relationship with the details of life, such as career and children. “Sometimes the conditions just aren’t right,” Moore said. However, it is often possible to work out the demands of life so that “the deeper values carry over and are stronger, so there is something in common.”

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Our soul mate relationships can help us become our most authentic selves.

This process of “maturing the relationship and getting beyond the initial attraction” is important to the experience because it contributes to the growth of the people involved. “I think we expect relationships to be easy, but the fact is that we are bringing two individuals with unique lives together and it takes a very special vision, a special way of being together where you’re not expecting the other person to be a carbon copy of you,” Moore said. “We tend to think that the other person will have the same psychological makeup we have. They don’t. They also don’t have the same destiny or the same values. And yet we can share the process. We can enjoy watching and being with the other person as they emerge into their own individual nature. And we can hope that they become more of an individual because of our relationship.”

Daimonic invitations

“When we talk about soul mates we have to understand that part of that sense of destiny is also daimonic,” Moore said. “We haven’t just rationally said, ‘There’s someone who looks like my type or looks like we could probably share a life together pretty well.’ You just get struck and you want to get to know that person. You may know nothing about them, yet still you’re drawn and you don’t know why.”

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Each person is said to have a daimon that guides their destiny, possibly drawing them into soul mate connections.

While it is necessary to sort out the details and “see if that passion can create a life or not,” Moore said “the daimonic aspect is there to bring people together and to keep a person in that place where you’re not living too rationally all the time. It’s a different way of living. You respond to the passions you feel that pass through you. You are not responsible so much as you are responsive. You respond to the invitations that are daimonic.”

Why does the daimon invite us into these soul mate connections? “The material of our psyche or soul is raw at first,” Moore said, describing the prima materia of passions and desires we might not know what to do with. “One of the purposes of relationship is to create an alchemical vessel in which that raw stuff can be cooked and sorted out. So you sort out the raw material that is in you, and in a way you’re also helping your partner sort out his or her material,” Moore said, and pointed out the difficulties this can cause. “When you have a deep soul connection like that, it’s not easy to be the partner of someone who is pursuing their own deep life, which is always changing.”

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We can be transformed through the alchemy of relationship.

However, having such a connection is “a deep, profound, dynamic, mysterious source of identity that is wonderful because it traditionally is what makes you feel alive,” Moore said. “It makes you feel an individual. Those are wonderful gifts to have. But at the same time it means that the challenges are very strong and very deep.”

The eternal in the temporal

Even though dealing with such constant change can be difficult, the process provides “a possibility of great depth and joy because if it’s really a relationship that is full of soul then, it’s very deep and there’s a lot of mystery in it,” Moore said. “If you have a relationship where you feel that you are soul mates, it is a very deep, ritualistic way of honoring the fact that there’s some connection there that is mysterious and mystical, which I think is the essence of what the soul mate idea is. Having that can give everything you do a dimension that is very profound, and gives you the sense that the eternal is part of the temporality of your relationship. That can hold you together more effectively than the temporal side.”

 

We invite you to join us for a soulful weekend with Thomas Moore!

Lecture: Friday October 21, 2016
Time: 7 – 9pm (doors open at 6pm)
Location: Downtown Library
210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City
Cost: Free, please become a member

Workshop: Saturday October 22, 2016
Time: 9am – 4:30pm
Location: Wasatch Retreat and Events Center
75 South 200 East, Salt Lake City
Cost: $120 (Get an early SoulMate Discount of $15 and pay only $105!) Enroll HERE.

 

~Amanda Butler
Blog Manager and Newsletter Manager
Jung Society of Utah

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“I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is…For we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic “love.””
– C.G. Jung

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The Unseen Partner: Love and Longing in the Unconscious is a poetic documentation of Diane Croft’s personal journey of individuation.

“In the center of my being, there is no external object of affection—no I love you—just love itself,” Diane Croft writes in The Unseen Partner: Love and Longing in the Unconscious. “This is transpersonal love, an ideal psychological state only temporarily felt.” In her book, Croft describes the journey to that center, guided by an “unseen partner” through automatic writing. Croft’s personal confrontation with the unconscious came in the form of poetry, fragments of which appeared each morning for three years. She “took dictation,” and then spent two decades making sense of the experience.

The Journey to the Center

The gods grew tired of waiting
and woke me from a heavy sleep,
not by shaking my shoulder
but by breaking my heart.

In the commentary for the poem above, Croft describes her life at the time as “out of balance,” relying too heavily on intuition and thinking as her dominant functions. “What “the gods” were attempting to do was to redirect my energies at midlife toward feeling and sensing.” Some form of heartbreak is often inherent in the individuation process, as a person finds that the ways of being in the world that had previously served him or her well are no longer working. “The individuation process begins with a psychological “death,” a descent into the unconscious, for the purpose of “resurrecting” that which was lost to consciousness, namely our connection to the life-giving aspect of the psyche,” Croft writes, while also acknowledging that “few people are willing to undergo the process of individuation because it’s so disagreeable.”

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The Silence by Johann Heinrich Fussli mirrors Croft’s feelings of alienation during parts of her individuation process.

Several poems and their commentary make clear that Croft often found the process quite disagreeable indeed. In a poem titled “Barren,” she describes the ““dark night of the soul,” where life feels emptied of psychic content and meaning.” However, by surrendering to the process through what she refers to as “conscious suffering,” she was able find greater acceptance of herself and her life. “Suffering—that painful feeling we all try to avoid—understood in the larger context, means a willingness to bear our own burdens in life, an acceptance of life as it is (a natural conflict of opposites) that takes on meaning when we attempt to balance it ethically.”

The Great Presence Within

For Croft, that attempt to find balance and meaning was a “process of searching…But what I seek has been staring right at me all along, which speaks to the reciprocal nature of an ego-Self reflection, i.e., seeing and being seen… From a Jungian point of view, the “game” is to redeem by conscious realization the hidden Self. This is not a passive game of the redemption of God through faith, but an active process of making conscious the Great Presence within, to seek and find our own true self.”

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The individuation process opens a dialogue between the inner and outer world. (Image: “Oak tree standing on lakeside with reed and reflection by Hartmut Josi Bennöhr.)

Through this process of creating a dialogue between her inner and outer worlds, and embracing her authenticity, Croft found that “there is love in the unconscious. But first we must make manifest and heal what has been hidden and ignored. How do we take part in this transformation? For the unconscious to become morally responsible, it must first be seen.”

Croft presents individuation as a journey of love: To truly see and heal these hidden and ignored aspects of ourselves, love is required. When we are able to accept and love our own shadow aspects, we are better able to love others in the same way. From there, we may access the type of transpersonal love Croft writes of near the end of the book, a love with no object, which, though felt only temporarily, has great power to transform. The purpose of the individuation process, as Croft describes it, is to lead us to that center of transpersonal love, from which we can truly be authentic.

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Croft selected images from Wikimedia Commons to accompany each poem. (Image: Jester reading a book.”)

Croft’s writing is clear and elegant throughout the book, offering an excellent description of what individuation is and how this experience can manifest. She makes Jungian ideas deeply relatable through the poetry and her commentary, which is rich with relevant quotes, particularly from Jung, Edward Edinger, and Rumi. In bringing her experience to consciousness with this book, Croft has made the unconscious morally responsible through love, truly a heroine’s journey.

 

~Amanda Butler
Blog Manager and Newsletter Manager
Jung Society of Utah

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“From the beginning I had conceived my voluntary confrontation with the unconscious as a scientific experiment which I myself was conducting and in whose outcome I was vitally interested. Today I might equally well say that it was an experiment which was being conducted on me.”
– C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections [178]

Who would seriously consider listening to the voices in their head?

Carl Jung, for one. As he neared middle age, this reputable doctor who set such store by his scientifically-trained intellect found himself faced with disruptive demands from his own unconscious. Worried that he might be losing his sanity, he fought to maintain his sense of self in the face of these strange inner forces that grew in strength and urgency.

“I stood helpless before an alien world; everything in it seemed difficult and incomprehensible. I was living in a constant state of tension; often I felt as if gigantic blocks of stone were tumbling down upon me.” [Memories, Dreams, Reflections 176]

He had built up his practice treating neuroses and psychoses as an outside observer, and to his dismay he now found himself experiencing some of the phenomena he had seen in his patients. In reflecting on this, he concluded that in order to be a truly effective and credible help, he had to gain a first-hand knowledge of what his patients went through. He had observed the workings of the unconscious enough by then to know that he was taking a serious risk.

“It was during Advent of the year 1913 December 12, to be exact that I resolved upon the decisive step. I was sitting at my desk once more, thinking over my fears. Then I let myself drop.” [179]

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A famous image from Carl Jung’s Red Book (Liber Novus).

This was the beginning of a pivotal phase in Jung’s life: as he took part in dreams and visions and otherworldly experiences, confronted and struggled to understand them, he not only came to a fuller understanding of himself, he also unlocked the door to his most important work. While he was making these expeditions inward, his outer life served as a vital anchor for him: “This idea that I was committing myself to a dangerous enterprise not for myself alone, but also for the sake of my patients helped me over several critical phases.” [179] “It was most essential for me to have a normal life in the real world as a counterpoise to that strange inner world.” [189] Finally, after he had done this inner work, it was time to re-engage the real world:

“Today I can say that I have never lost touch with my initial experiences. All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost fifty years ago. Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images.” [192]

The most famous result of these experiments was, of course, the Red Book (or Liber Novus) which has gained so much attention since its publication in 2009. Our great benefit of hindsight, and maybe even the beauty of the paintings and calligraphy in the Red Book may make it hard to appreciate how difficult this work really was for Dr. Jung, though reading his accounts of it make it clear.

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Jung created many images in the Red Book, showing what he experienced during his encounters with the unconscious.

Psychological Types was the first major work that Jung produced after this period, and it has had an incalculably powerful influence on modern society, particularly through the personality theories which (argue with them if you will) have given so much meaning and direction to people’s lives. Socionics.com, for example, argues that Psychological Types was “perhaps the greatest achievement of his career.

Besides this, Dr. Jung’s work on Active Imagination has drawn plenty of interest in itself, and it’s easy to see why. But he and those of his followers who use it have given words of caution. Although it can be illuminating and empowering to explore our fantasies, there are dangers, some of them less obvious than others.

For anyone contemplating this work, and especially for anyone who finds the idea exciting and adventurous, it is important to keep in mind that Active Imagination is not daydreaming, and is not something to do simply for entertainment. Jung’s reports of his pioneering efforts speak clearly of the dangers he faced of being trapped by the fantasies, and he also writes of the responsibilities of those who would enter that strange world on any serious mission. “Insight into them must be converted into an ethical obligation.” [Memories, Dreams, Reflections 192]

The Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson wrote a book called Inner Work to help people work with their dreams and their fantasies through this method of Active Imagination. Written in Johnson’s typically clear and engaging voice, it presents a practical sequence of steps to follow in learning this powerful technique.

~Charles Stanford
Archivist, author, musician
Staff Writer – Jung Society of Utah
Etsy shop: Only Real Quills

 

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“There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word “happy” would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”
– C.G. Jung

During an interview in 1960 Carl Jung was asked, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?” Jung replied:

  1. Good physical and mental health.
  2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
  3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
  4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
  5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.1

 
However, this type of happiness is based mostly on exterior factors, which Jung noted later in the interview: “No matter how ideal your situation may be, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness. A relatively slight disturbance of your biological or psychological equilibrium may suffice to destroy your happiness.”1

How then can we be happy regardless of our external experiences?

Suffering and the unlived life

The five factors Jung listed describe a life that is safe, uncomplicated, and familiar. Often, however, there comes a point when that ceases to be enough, and we might experience “unspeakable boredom,” even in the best of circumstances. Such feelings of boredom, a personal loss, or a crisis of some kind may force us from our comfort zone as we deeply consider the “unlived life” outside of our familiar experiences, and truly begin the process of individuation.

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“Inside all conflicted and stuck situations there is a creative vulnerability that can lead to a release of unexpected imagination and genuine ideas of renewal.” – Michael Meade

As we step into this unknown territory, we often experience suffering. “Coming to terms with oneself is very hard and painful work. It’s actually much easier to blind ourselves to our inner conflicts and to suffer various neurotic symptoms than it is to carry the ultimate cross of becoming an authentic and healthy individual.”2

“The gold is in the dark”

So why choose to walk into the darkness? “Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health,” Jung wrote. It is through the often troubling experience of contrast that we learn and evolve: “You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow.”3 Suffering provides a way for us to reconcile opposites and begin to transcend duality, thus developing a “wider and higher consciousness.” Additionally, through holding, forgiving, and accepting the contradictions within ourselves, we develop greater self-love and compassion. From such a place of healing, we also have an improved capacity to love and accept others as they are.

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“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” –  Joseph Campbell

This is, I think, what Jung meant by, “The gold is in the dark.” Through “making the darkness conscious,” by facing our suffering and experiencing it deeply, even if that seems at odds with our happiness, we can find the gold of individuation and self-love. If we are able to endure the night-sea journey of sitting with our suffering long enough to learn from it, it can be transmuted into various gifts, such as increased wisdom, higher consciousness, greater understanding of one’s purpose, or a deepened bond of friendship. When I have looked very closely at my most painful experiences, I have always found this to be true.

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“When you are surrounded with darkness… be a light unto the darkness… Then you will know Who You Really Are.”3

While it may not seem so at the time, suffering can be a gift that helps us connect with our wholeness, fulfill our unique promise, shows us our true capabilities, and links us to the Divine. Through truly facing our suffering we can learn to connect to a consciousness within that allows us to experience bliss regardless of our outer circumstances. Upon looking back after having made it through troubled times, we can begin to see the suffering we experienced as a crucible that helped us become a better version of ourselves, and from here we become more able to accept all of life’s experiences with gratitude.

Jung wrote: “Nobody can know what the ultimate things are. We must, therefore, take them as we experience them. And if such experience helps make your life healthier, more beautiful, more complete and more satisfactory to yourself and to those you love, you may safely say: ‘This was the grace of God.’”

~Amanda Butler
Blog Manager and Newsletter Manager
Jung Society of Utah

Works cited

  1. C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters. Edited by William McGuire and R.F.C. Hull.
  2. Words of Wisdom from Carl Jung, One of Psychology’s Greats. Dr. George Simon.
  3. The Little Soul and the Sun. Neale Donald Walsch.

 

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“When animus and anima meet, the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction. The outcome need not always be negative, since the two are equally likely to fall in love (a special instance of love at first sight).”
– C.G. Jung

Carl Jung used the term anima to describe “the inner figure of a woman held by a man,” and animus to describe “the figure of a man at work in a woman’s psyche.”1 The anima or animus functions as a psychopomp, or “guide of soul” which mediates between the conscious and unconscious, often becoming a “necessary link with creative possibilities and instruments of individuation.”1

These archetypes can profoundly influence our relationships. Individuals often choose partners based upon a resemblance to the anima or animus, or who outwardly express characteristics and feelings that lay dormant in their own psyche. This type of projection can lead to disillusionment and heartbreak once we get to know “the real him, the real herin extremis, the mask slipped from the face,” particularly if that face turns out to be very different from the idealized archetypal image we hold.

Searching for wholeness in the Magical Other

Perhaps it is the anima or animus that leads us to seek out a “Magical Other,” a term coined by Jungian analyst James Hollis to describe “the idea that there is one person out there who is right for us, will make our lives work, a soul–mate who will repair the ravages of our personal history, one who will be there for us, will read our minds, know what we want and meet those deepest needs; a good parent who will protect us from suffering and spare us the challenging journey of individuation.”2 Such romantic fantasies may drive us to search endlessly for our “perfect” match, or fixate in fascinated longing for an Other who seems to be our “ideal.”

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Projections of the anima or animus may lead us on a search for our ideal or “Magical Other.”

According to Hollis, such patterns of behavior are unsustainable. “Given the gap between our expectations of the “Magical Other” and their finite capacities, we often hopelessly burden the relationship and, predictably, end in disappointment, cynicism, blaming, and then roll it all over again onto the next solitary soul.” To break the cycle, Hollis suggests using relationship as a way to examine unconscious contents. “The paradox lies in the fact that the Other can be a means through which one is enabled to glimpse the immensity of one’s own soul and live a portion of one’s individuation.”

Turning within

So love for an Other can serve as a fire that lights the way on our own journey, helping us to better understand ourselves. Even disappointments in relationship may hold an opportunity for personal development. I remember an afternoon I spent sitting with a loved one and telling her about an experience of heartbreak. After listening to my story, she asked what attracted me to the person I’d been discussing. When I told her, she replied, “He’s a mirror.”

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Our relationships often serve as a mirrors, reflecting unconscious contents.

Therefore, we can use those characteristics we admire in the Other as a guide for our own evolution, and work on developing our own inner opposite, rather than searching for someone else to “complete” us. “Consider the courage of those truly willing to look within and own what they find,”2 Hollis says. In doing so, we can make the effects of the anima and animus conscious, possibly helping us discover our own gifts and purpose in the process.

Additionally, one of the tasks of individuation is to integrate the anima or animus in an internal marriage of the masculine and feminine parts of the psyche. Hollis writes, “Hierosgamos, the sacred marriage, properly honors the other as Other and at the same time protects the absolute uniqueness of the individual partners.”2 Through such inner work, we become free to truly love the Other as they are, rather than our projections or fantasies of them. Or as Alan Watts said, “When you’re loving somebody, you are simply delighting in that person as such.”

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“Where the myth fails, human love begins. Then we love a human being, not our dream, but a human being with flaws.”   – Anaïs Nin

And if there is no “Magical Other”? Perhaps the true magic happens when we realize we are already complete, just as we are. From this place of integration and self-acceptance, “We may even come to bless those who have most hurt us, for they have most contributed to our transformation,” Hollis says. “We may even love them, allowing them to be who they are, even as we struggle to be ourselves on the journey toward our own destined end.”2

Learn more about the psychodynamics of relationships in a four-week course with James Hollis. Enroll here.

~Amanda Butler
Blog Manager and Newsletter Manager
Jung Society of Utah

Books cited

  1. A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis. Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter, Fred Plaut.
  2. The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other. James Hollis

 

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What do you do when the revelation hits?
How can we carry our new insights to where they will produce action?

These are some of the vital questions at the heart of Robert Bosnak’s new course, “Yellowing and the Stone,” offered over live web broadcast in 10 sessions beginning September 16th. This is a continuation of previous courses based on James Hillman’s alchemical work, but Dr. Bosnak emphasizes that it is not necessary to have completed his previous alchemy courses to benefit from this one. “Alchemy uses a language of linearity,” he said, “but that’s an illusion,” as is any sense of sequence in Alchemical Psychology. Indeed, the illusory sequence that appears in that book is ironic, since James Hillman questioned the metanarratives of telos and goal in alchemy. “Hillman is interested in the phenomena that happen along the way as you work with the images.”

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Robert Bosnak will teach a new alchemy course starting September 16th.

“My purpose,” said Dr. Bosnak with a smile as he carefully chose the word, “is to make Hillman’s ideas accessible to people in meaningful ways.” Hillman’s work can be difficult to understand outside of its contexts. In a recent interview, we discussed the meaning of the Yellowing or Citrinitas alchemical phase and the Stone. Consistent with the nature of alchemy, it may be easy to jump to a conclusion (as I did) about the meaning of Yellowing as akin to establishing a habit, or getting in a groove. This would be the wrong conclusion. In a previous interview about “Silver and the White Earth” Dr. Bosnak stated, “If you have been stuck in a particular groove, get out of it! Part of the work is that you no longer feel groovy!”

There’s a line from a(nother) Rush song: “I’m in a groove now, or is it a rut?” “Yes,” answers Dr. Bosnak: habitual consciousness is both.

An attentive reflection on life experiences shows us that dry intellectual abstractions lack the power to change us. “Imagination doesn’t generalize,” says Dr. Bosnak, “it’s specific.” And in the specific images, in their strangeness and difficulty lie the necessary energy to achieve the “escape velocity” to get us out of our grooves and ruts.

So we experience new insights or, we might say, revelations, a sudden flash of precious gold. Unfortunately, when someone has a sudden new insight or understanding they often want to take it and share it prematurely with the world, and this can result in either an ineffectual withering of the desired end or even a disastrous misapplication. This is an especially prominent phenomenon of our society now, mediated as heavily as it is by social media which encourages instantaneous sharing of even the most trivial thoughts and feelings. In such rampant premature multiplication, nothing really changes. “Plus it can make you into an unbearable character.”

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When working with images, new insights and revelations may appear like a sudden flash of gold.

And what of our most cherished goals – why do we feel hollow when we have achieved what we thought we wanted the most? The purpose of the course is for people to bodily experience why these events are important in their life. Dr. Bosnak explains that one of Hillman’s most important points is to take goals concretely but not literally. If you see that the goal (image) funnels the passion, but if you take it literally you set yourself up for disappointment when you get what you thought you wanted. The ultimate goal of alchemy is the Stone: everything moves toward it. But why does goal matter? The goal, the Stone, is the passion for the Ultimate Other, which is ever elusive. But what happens as you seek: this is what changes the soul.

“It’s important to realize that you are being dreamed by a goal: what does that do to you?”

With the benefit of his 40 years’ personal experience studying alchemical psychology on the shoulders of giants, Robert Bosnak seeks to guide you through these images to embody your own understandings, and to learn to carry your insights with you in order to shape your life. I expect most of us are familiar with these concepts intellectually. But how to fully realize this truth, to carry it with us and let it shape how we live our lives?

The Jung Society of Utah invites you to study “Yellowing and the Stone” with Robert Bosnak and find out. Enroll here for this fascinating course.

 

~Charles Stanford
Archivist, author, musician
Staff Writer – Jung Society of Utah
Etsy shop: Only Real Quills

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“The process of individuation is founded on the instinctive urge of every living creature to reach its own totality and fulfillment.”
– C.G. Jung

What does it mean to become who you truly are and live an authentic life? Carl Jung created the term individuation, describing it as a process in which one becomes aware of one’s true, inner self. Jung believed that: “Man is not a machine that can be remodeled for quite other purposes as occasion demands, in the hope that it will go on functioning as regularly as before but in a quite different way. He carries his whole history with him; in his very structure is written the history of mankind.”

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“Each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived.” – James Hillman

In our Western way of thinking about our individual purpose relevant to society’s notions of success, we have gravely limited ourselves, dismissive of the indigenous cultures which we deem as ignorant or primitive; without sophisticated means to solve and correct a perceived unwanted malady. We see ourselves more as machines, that we can “remodel ourselves as occasion demands” and function as a means to satisfy a superficial conformity. Even if we are not aware of this as our fundamental belief, it can manifest through the everyday choices we make against the irrational and imperfections that would in reality, guide us to a more authentic path. We accept society’s “glowing” images as “normal” and believe from the norms of popular culture that what we need is to avoid our darker sides by covering them up and hiding behind a superficial facade of success and perfection; living a life free from the shadows of misfortune, grief and suffering. But as we turn against the genuine calls of healing experiences and avoid coming into our authentic gifts and purpose by fearing to look into the darkness of our own shadows, we do so at our own peril.

When Carl Jung stated, “Man is not a machine that can be remodeled for quite other purposes as occasion demands,” it is clear that he did not believe in hiding our shadows, but rather owning them despite fear and judgement. Yet if we are not to strive for the perfection of “the Machine” that would strip us clean of our imperfect humanness and exploit us for society’s gain, what then is our true purpose? How can we creatively discover our true nature and how can we see our suffering and our shadows in new ways?

Many African wisdom traditions teach that an individual can find totality and fulfillment through their community. According to Dr. Malidoma Somé, a West African shaman of the Dagara tribe, “the community exists, in part, to safeguard the purpose of each person within it and to awaken the memory of that purpose by recognizing the unique gifts each individual brings to this world.”

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Just as the oak tree’s destiny is contained within the tiny acorn, each person is born with a unique purpose, and it is our mission in life to fulfill that purpose.

This type of inter-subjective life is well established in African cosmology, where the universe is seen as a series of interactions and interconnections, a vision that is especially applicable in understanding the relationship between the individual and the community. This network of forces shows that people do not live in isolation; one individual needs another to continue to exist. Humans need other humans to be truly human, and the community can be seen as facilitating our individuation.

So it is through relating with others that we see ourselves as we truly are, and come to realize our own unique gifts and purpose. Rather than remodeling ourselves to conform to society’s demands, with the love and support of a community we can learn to integrate our shadows, withdraw our projections, and live an authentic life in line with our purpose.

Learn more about this perspective on individuation from African shaman Malidoma Some in a one Year Training Program on Indigenous counseling and divination.

~Pamela Thompson and Amanda Butler

 

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Malidoma Somé is a West African Shaman, writer, and inspirational teacher. He holds three masters degrees and two doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University. The Jung Society of Utah will welcome Malidoma this June 24-26 for a special lecture and workshop to celebrate the Season Finale of year 7. During the Friday evening talk he will offer insight into how we can discover our individual gifts and true purpose, and during the weekend workshop he will show us how we can come into our authenticity by way of facing our grief through ritual.

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The Jung Society of Utah will welcome Malidoma Somé to Salt Lake City June 24 – 26.

Malidoma was born into the Dagara people in Dano, Burkina Faso. His own name Malidoma, means “he who makes friends with the enemy/strangers.” Malidoma believes it is his destiny to come to Western audiences and promote an understanding between Western and indigenous cultures, and feels his own calling is to bridge these two worlds together. Malidoma says the Dagara believe that each person is born with a destiny, and he or she is given a name that reflects that destiny. Malidoma champions the gifts of the individual and believes in the power of community and that, “A person’s purpose involves the commitment to search for and find the lost harmony that was once the holding energy that kept village and earth together.” He believes that ritual is necessary for returning ourselves to this original harmonic state of natural community.

“Whether they are raised in indigenous or modern culture, there are two things that people crave: the full realization of their innate gifts, and to have these gifts approved, acknowledged, and confirmed. There are countless people in the West whose efforts are sadly wasted because they have no means of expressing their unique genius. In the psyches of such people there is an inner power and authority that fails to shine because the world around them is blind to it.”

“In the surface world our ability to make things happen is very limited. This limitation is a reflection of the incompleteness of a world without the spirit realm. So Spirit is our channel through which every gap in life can be filled. But the spirit realm will not take care of these gaps without our conscious participation. Thus our collaboration makes us central to the actual happening of a ritual.”

“Ritual is the most functional means by which archetypal energies are dealt with. Indigenous people have been aware of that for eons. In the modern era, we focus too much on psychological counseling. There is a tendency for people to ‘linger endlessly’ in therapy for without receiving significant help. The “shadow” parts of our lives “keep coming back.””

Malidoma believes that dealing with “the things we cannot escape” is best accomplished within the sacred space of ritual.

“Ritual, community, and healing — these three are so intertwined in the indigenous world that to speak of one of them is to speak of them all. Ritual, communally designed, helps the individual remember his or her purpose, and such remembering brings healing both to the individual and the community. The community exists, in part, to safeguard the purpose of each person within it and to awaken the memory of that purpose by recognizing the unique gifts each individual brings to this world. Healing comes when the individual remembers his or her identity — the purpose chosen in the world of ancestral wisdom — and reconnects with that world of Spirit. Human beings long for connection, and our sense of usefulness derives from the feeling of connectedness. When we are connected — to our own purpose, to the community around us, and to our spiritual wisdom — we are able to live and act with authentic effectiveness.”

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Malidoma believes that healing can be found through ritual, as well as connection with others.

In our time with Malidoma, we will encounter the help of the ancestral world, and participants will attune to their innate capacities to discover their deepest life purpose and the gifts that flow naturally from within.

Get connected with your community in this celebration on June 24th at Publik Coffee House, 975 S West Temple, from 7:00pm until 9:00pm. Come early to enjoy free tarot readings, music, and a soulful, creative community!

Come and enjoy this unique opportunity to experience the wisdom and insight of a true master… a rare engagement not to be missed!

 

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~Pamela Thompson
Team Host Lead
Jung Society of Utah

“Where do we live symbolically? Nowhere except where we participate in the ritual of life.”
-C.G. Jung

For those who have children and pay attention to them, observing their behavior is a gift of grace: an opportunity to re-connect with the rituals that meant the most to us as children, and hopefully to rediscover rituals that our souls may need again – or still.

Throughout his life, Dr. Jung sought not only to find and understand, but to enact what his soul needed to be whole. As an adult, he came to understand the importance of ritual and “the symbolic life.” In his work with his own unconscious he revived activities which he had dismissed as child’s play:

“The first thing that came to the surface was a childhood memory from perhaps my tenth or eleventh year. At that time I had had a spell of playing passionately with building blocks. I distinctly recalled how I had built little houses and castles . . . “Aha,” I said to myself, “there is still life in these things. The small boy is still around, and possesses a creative life which I lack. But how can I make my way to it?” . . . I began accumulating suitable stones, gathering them partly from the lake shore and partly from the water. And I started building: cottages, a castle, a whole village.”  (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pages 173-174)

As a child, I liked to collect sticks. Both my daughters do as well; I wonder if there is any child who doesn’t. I imagine that some readers will understand this: think back on your own childhood for a moment with me.

Apricot baton 02Natural materials like wood give an immediate access to opportunities for symbolic ritual.

One summer when I was a boy, I picked a scab on my leg. I had nearby a stick I had been whittling. I smeared some of the blood from my leg into that stick, watching how the wood soaked it up, noting the change in color as it dried. Over that summer, I anointed that stick with several applications of blood from the scratches I picked up in my rambles. When I read Dr. Jung’s recollections of his childhood rituals I recognized the same process at work. Had anyone asked me why I was smearing my blood onto a stick and carrying it around with me, I would have been unable to give any kind of explanation that made any sense. Quite likely if an adult had observed this, they would have told me that what I was doing was foolish, or disgusting, and told me to stop – and I would have.

In fact, I’m not sure that wasn’t what did in fact happen. The shape of my life as a middle class American boy relegated such mute rituals to times of play, which of course became less frequent and more regulated as I got older. Why else do so many grown men go fishing, or camping, or plinking? “Boys and their toys,” people say with tolerant indulgence (which usually masks contempt). There are many other activities that adults do in which I see the same psychic processes at work, for example, cosplay.

This is not to be despised: there are things from childhood that don’t go away as the body grows to maturity. Adult egos try to deny this and unconsciously rip up the world with their toys. We can do that, or we can choose to engage these lingering inner children, enter into a relationship with them as part of the great work of bringing the shadow into inclusion with the Self.

Plum walking stick 05One of the sticks I have worked on.

So, now in my late 30s, I have revived my childhood fascination for sticks: I look for branches from fruit trees that I can sand and polish. Making a beautiful walking stick, wand or baton is a satisfying handicraft, but more importantly for me it’s a ritual, a powerful connection with something in my soul that still needs to be expressed.

 

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~Charles Stanford
Archivist, author, musician
Staff Writer – Jung Society of Utah
Etsy shop: Only Real Quills

“Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face.”
– C.G. Jung

Projections are images we have of others, which are generated by the psyche and based in our own fears, desires, impulses, and unresolved issues, most of which are unconscious. Jung wrote, “We must bear in mind that we do not make projections, rather they happen to us.” Projection happens when we are “certain we know what other people think or what their true character is,” and interact with with them based on those assumptions.

We see others not as they are, but as we are 

While the most obvious example of projection is seeing our own shadow traits in others, this can also be true of those traits we view as desirable, since the ego projects anything it is unable to identify with. An example of this could be someone who is jealous of a friend’s beauty or intelligence, but is unable to recognize those traits in him- or herself.

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Projection is the cause of many misunderstandings in relationships.

Additionally, when we feel certain we know what others think or what they’re really like, this may cause us to judge them or ourselves unfairly. It is likely that many of our insecurities are based in our own misguided perceptions of others, as well as our worries over how we believe they see us. Consider the things we keep to ourselves, the lies we tell, and the masks we wear in order to impress others or protect ourselves from them, based on whatever images we have projected onto them.

As an example of this, I recently had dinner with a friend, and an opportunity came up in the conversation to tell him what he truly means to me. But instead of honestly sharing my feelings, I froze and said something else because I felt worried about how he would respond—certain that it would be some form of rejection.

Withdrawing projections 

The antidote to projection is authenticity, which I have heard referred to as “the highest form of spirituality.” When we are authentic, we are willing to risk being seen as we truly are, shadow and all, and we also become more able to see others as they truly are. In my experience, the willingness to take that risk is based in love, both for oneself and others, which creates a relationship that allows for reflection. Jung said:

“Now “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is really a very profound formula … You can never get to yourself without loving your neighbor—that is indispensable … You would have no means of comparison … So whoever insists upon loving his neighbor cannot do it without loving himself to a certain extent.”

With the self-knowledge and greater wholeness that is created through this love, we may begin to withdraw our projections. According to Jung, “The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our own shadow onto others.”

projection-desire“As you live Deeper in the Heart, the Mirror gets clearer and cleaner.”
– Rumi

 

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~Amanda Butler
Blog Manager and Newsletter Manager
Jung Society of Utah

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