Transcript of Talk to Pagan Pathways
on 16th June 20-15
Carl Gustav Jung is someone whose name crops up from time to time in
Pagan literature and I wanted to learn more about him and his work. I
quickly found that both are complex subjects and in this contribution I
have done little more than overview one aspect of his work but it is an
aspect that provides an important intellectual link to Magic.
are many other aspects of Jung’s life work that deserve attention and a
wider understanding of which many Pagans would find beneficial.
Much that I have included has been taken from the internet and I have included appropriate links.
1. CG Jung: A Summary of his life
Extract from A brief Introduction to C.G.Jung and Analytical Psychology by Marilyn Geist, M.A.
Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875.
He decided to study medicine, but had also developed an interest in spiritual phenomena while in school. It was this fascination with medicine and spirituality that led him into the field of psychiatry, which he viewed as a combination of his two interests. Carl Gustav Jung was the best known member of the group that formed the core of the early psychoanalytic movement, followers and students of Sigmund Freud. After completing his medical studies, Jung obtained a position at the Burghoelzli Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. There he worked with patients suffering from schizophrenia, while also conducting word association research. In 1904 Jung corresponded with Freud about this latter work and also began to use Freud's psychoanalytic treatment with his patients.
In 1906 Freud invited Jung to Vienna, and they began a professional relationship. Freud soon began to favour Jung as his successor in the new and growing psychoanalytic movement. In 1907, based on his hospital experiences, Jung wrote The Psychology of Dementia Praecox.
Dementia praecox (a "premature dementia" or "precocious madness") is a chronic, deteriorating psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration, usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood.
Through Freud's efforts, Jung was appointed Permanent President of the Association of Psycho-Analysis at its Second Congress in 1910. Jung and Freud held in common an understanding of the profound role of the unconscious. Their understanding of the nature of the unconscious, however, began to diverge.
This led to a painful break between the two men in 1913 after Jung's publication of a major article on the psychology of the unconscious which emphasized the role of symbolism (Jung, 1912). Freud felt personally betrayed by Jung's departure from his theoretical views. Jung likewise felt betrayed, believing that Freud, because of his inflexibility, had failed to support this extension of their mutual work.
Extract from CG Jung Institute of Chicago;
In 1913, the year when Jung left the psychoanalytic movement, he used the term analytical psychology to identify what he called a new psychological science seen by him as having evolved out of psychoanalysis. At a later date, when he was firmly established in his own right, he referred to the ’psychoanalytic method’ of Freud and the ‘individual psychology’ of Adler, and said that he preferred to call his own approach ‘analytical psychology’ by which he meant a general concept embracing both, as well as other endeavours.
Jung always asserted that his psychology was a science and empirically based. Therefore, in general usage today, analytical psychology embraces theory, writing, and research as well as psycho-therapeutic practice. The international professional association of Jungian analysts is called the International Association for Analytical Psychology.
Two specific aspects over which Jung and Freud fell out were:
a) The nature and purpose of the libido: Jung saw the libido as a general source of psychic energy motivating a range of behaviour whereas Freud saw it as a source of psychic energy specific to sexual gratification.
(This raises more than one issue for later discussion, including:
How the meaning of certain words has altered over 100 years
How we might interpret Jung’s libido.
b) The nature of the unconscious: Jung saw this as a storehouse of repressed memories specific to the individual and to our ancestral past whereas Freud saw it as a storehouse of unacceptable repressed desires specific to the individual.
Extract from A brief Introduction to C.G.Jung and Analytical Psychology by Marilyn Geist.
In the years from 1913 to 1917, when Jung was largely ostracized by the psychoanalytic community, he embarked upon a deep, extensive, (and potentially dangerous) process of self-analysis that he called a "confrontation with the unconscious" (Jung, 1961, chap. 6, pp. 170-99). Jung emerged from this personal journey with the structures in place for his theories on archetypes, complexes, the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious, and the individuation process (much of these were founded on his work with patients at the Burghoelzli Hospital).
These theories, along with his understanding of the symbolism found in dreams and in other creative processes, formed the basis of his clinical approach, which he called analytical psychology, and which we will go on to explore.
In the period that followed, Jung devoted himself to exploring his own subconscious. He decided that it was valuable experience and, in private, he induced hallucinations or, in his words, “active imaginations” (a cognitive methodology that uses the imagination as an organ of understanding).
He recorded everything he felt in small journals but later transcribed his notes into a large red leather-bound book (the Red Book) on which he worked intermittently for sixteen years. The book includes vivid illustrations depicting his experiences. In 2009, the book was finally published allowing readers an unparalleled look into the mind of one of psychology's most fascinating figures. "To the superficial observer," Jung wrote in the epilogue in 1959, "it will appear like madness”.
It can be downloaded from https://www.academia.edu/6922901/C._G._Jung_and_the_Red_Book
I have not attempted to read the Red Book. A project in its own right, I feel.
Extract from Carl Jung Biography:
In order to study archetypal patterns and processes, Jung visited so-called primitive tribes. He lived among the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona in 1924 and 1925 and among the inhabitants of Mt. Elgon in Kenya during 1925 and 1926. He later visited Egypt and India and undertook lecture tours to the UK and US.
To Jung, the religious symbols and phenomenology (a system of beliefs developed by studying peoples understanding and awareness of themselves) of Buddhism and Hinduism and the teachings of Zen Buddhism and Confucianism all expressed differentiated experiences on the way to man's inner world, a world which was badly neglected by Western civilization.
Jung also searched for traditions in Western culture, which made up for its one-sided outgoing development toward reason and technology.
He found these traditions in Gnosticism (belief that personal freedom comes through spiritual knowledge and understanding), Christian mysticism (the belief that instinct and spiritual feeling are the ways to find God), and, above all, occultism (knowledge or use of supernatural powers).
Some of his (later) major works are deep and clear psychological interpretations of alchemical writings, showing their living significance for understanding dreams and the hidden theme of neurotic and mental disorders.
Jung lived for his explorations, his writings, and his psychological practice, which he had to give up in 1944 due to a severe heart attack. His vivid near death experience description is recorded in
His career included the professorship of medical psychology at the University of Basel and the titular (title without the actual position) professorship of philosophy from 1933 until 1942 on the faculty of philosophical and political sciences of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. In 1948 he founded the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich and continued to produce and publish works until his death at his home in Kusnacht, near Zurich, in June 1961. Honorary doctorates were given to him by many important universities all over the world.
Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Jo-Ki/Jung-Carl.html#ixzz3cV6GkhHz
Jung’s experiences with, and works on, alchemy and religions are worth exploring separately and demonstrate his enormous intellectual capacity.
It is important not to overlook the fact that whereas the tendency is to concentrate on the analysis elements of Jung’s professional activities, the latter included the psychotherapeutic process of re-establishing a healthy balance between the conscious and unconscious parts of the psyches of his patients, over many years.
2. Jungian concepts
Extract from A brief Introduction to C.G.Jung and Analytical Psychology by Marilyn Geist
The concept of the archetypes is perhaps the most distinctive of the Jungian. It is a concept which Jungians understand but which often baffles those from other psychoanalytic schools. Jung began to observe, in his work with patients' dreams, the appearance of symbols which seemed to have little or no personal meaning for the dreamer and yet which often had great emotional charge.
He observed that many of these symbols had appeared again and again throughout history in mythology, religion, fairy tales, alchemical texts, and other forms of creative expression. Jung became convinced that the source of this symbolic material was what he identified as the collective unconscious, a pool of experience accessible to all humans through history which lies below the personal unconscious.
Jung himself seems not to have been entirely consistent in the way he defined archetypes as his descriptions include both "typical modes of expression" or “primordial images” and “akin to animal instincts”.
I have found many attempts to list archetypes and many differing lists. I tend to see archetypes as ‘role models’ and ‘role processes’ but I shall return to this aspect.
As with so much of Jung’s ideas, it is often hard to determine which were his and which are actually developments of his. I sometimes find it hard to follow his logic (I have not his intellect!). I have yet to see a definitive list of archetypes that originated from him and much, perhaps all, of the material now available relating to Jung’s concepts has been produced by people who have ‘embroidered them’ and cannot be assumed to have understood them.
But archetypes are only one player in a bigger scene, the big player being the psyche which includes the personal unconscious.
(Extract from A Brief Introduction to C. G. Jung and Analytical Psychology by Gregor Mitchell:
(Note that these descriptions are not Jung’s.)
· The Persona is an identity we hold and which we present to the outside world. We may hold several of such: our career role; our role as mother father, son, etc; our political identity, and so on.
· The Ego is our centre of consciousness, our conscious sense of self. Therefore it excludes (although remains influenced by) all of our make-up that is unconscious. Jung says: "So far as we know, consciousness is always Ego-consciousness. In order to be conscious of myself, I must be able to distinguish myself from others. Relationship can only take place where this distinction exists."
· The Self is simply the totality of the entire psyche. It is the function which contains all the other functions and around which they orbit. It may be difficult for the conscious Ego to accept that there may be more to the psyche than that of which it is currently aware.
· The Shadow is an unconscious part of the Ego, and receptacle for that which we have for one reason or another disowned or wish to remain out of sight and those qualities that one would rather not see in oneself, as well as unrealized potentials. The Shadow is intimately connected to the Id and its structures, Thanatos and Eros that contain the animal instincts. It's the part of the personality that's forced out of mental awareness by the Ego's defence mechanisms.
· The Anima is a complex of unconscious beliefs and feelings in a man's psyche relating to the opposite gender, the Animus is the corresponding complex in a Woman’s psyche as part of the Ego unconscious, these beliefs and feelings can rise into consciousness when activated by appropriate circumstances.
this is my own version of the diagram in Gregor Mitchell’s paper. The diagram aims to depict the psyche in Jung’s terms. )
Whilst it appears from some sources that Jung considered these primary functions of the psyche to be archetypes, I am unclear as to how they fit with his archetype principle, not least since they are a part of the personal unconscious not the collective unconscious. To me, they should be seen as component parts of the psyche; but then Jung’s views on archetypes changed over the years.
As a result of Jung's early word association research, he came to recognize the existence of clusters of ideas, thoughts, memories, and perceptions, and he termed these clusters "feeling-toned” complexes.
Jung saw complexes as "the living units of the psyche" and as distinctive part personalities. The mind is an immensely complex structure, which has been described with great insight by Jung, Freud, and many other eminent psychologists and philosophers up to the present day. Each concentrate on different aspects but one does not invalidate the other; taken together they provide a complete understanding.
According to Jung, the Ego - the "I" or self-conscious faculty - has four inseparable functions, four fundamental ways of perceiving and interpreting reality: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition. Generally, we tend to favour our most developed function, which becomes dominant, while we can broaden our personality by developing the others. Jung noted that the unconscious often tends to reveal itself most easily through a person's least developed or "inferior" function. The encounter with the unconscious and development of the underdeveloped function(s) thus tend to progress together.
Jung saw in unconscious material, especially dreams and fantasies, an unfolding of a process. This process was uniquely expressed in each person, but it had nevertheless a common structure. Jung called it the "individuation process" in which the potential of a person's psyche is seeking fulfilment. The concept of Individuation is considered by many to be his major contribution. It is a process which generally takes place in the last half of life - a time in the life cycle neglected by many other psychologists. While the first half of life is devoted to making one's way and establishing oneself in the world, the last half can be a time of psychological development, of moving toward awareness, integration, and wholeness.
The barriers to individuation which we must seek to explore and resolve are contained in our 'Shadow' personality: those qualities that one would rather not see in oneself, as well as unrealized potentials. The Shadow of beauty is the beast. Because they're repressed such beliefs and feelings are typically unconscious; they influence our entire lives, tell us what we can and cannot do, and drive our behaviours. Even when we're conscious of them, we tend to hide them because we're ashamed or embarrassed. We don't want anyone (including ourselves) to know that we feel unworthy of love or that we're not good enough so we try to suppress such beliefs and deny them.
Being opposite the Persona, the Shadow is not generally acknowledged or accepted by the Ego, but when integrated (rather than repressed) it can be very useful to the individual in seeing or realizing the full aspect of the inner self. This energy can be re-directed positively into waking life. For example, a positive side of the Shadow is to provide strength to an intimidated person.
The major goal of Jungian therapy is Individuation through the integration of the Ego and the Shadow.
Introduction to Jung’s Psychology (Freda Fordham)
Jung's contribution to the psychology of the conscious mind is largely embodied in his work on Psychological Types. The attempt to classify human beings according to type has a long history; it is nearly two thousand years since the Greek physician, Galen, tried to distinguish four fundamental temperamental differences in men, and his descriptive terms (though psychologically naive) -- the sanguine, the phlegmatic, the choleric, and the melancholic -- have passed into common speech. There have been various attempts which, taking modern knowledge into account, aim at a more precise formulation -- for instance, Kretschmer's -- and Jung's division of people into extraverts and introverts has already come to be widely known, if not fully understood. Jung distinguishes two differing attitudes to life, two modes of reacting to circumstances which he finds sufficiently marked and widespread to describe as typical.
There is a whole class of men [Jung says] who at the moment of reaction to a given situation at first draw back a little as if with an unvoiced 'No', and only after that are able to react; and there is another class who, in the same situation, come forward with an immediate reaction, apparently confident that their behaviour is obviously right. The former class would therefore be characterized by a certain negative relation to the object, and the latter by a positive one ... the former class corresponds to the introverted and the second to the extraverted attitude.
The extraverted attitude, characterized by an outward flowing of libido, an interest in events, in people and things, a relationship with them, and a dependence on them; when this attitude is habitual to anyone, Jung describes him or her as an extraverted type. This type is motivated by outside factors and greatly influenced by the environment. The extraverted type is sociable and confident in unfamiliar surroundings. He or she is generally on good terms with the world, and even when disagreeing with it can still be described as related to it, for instead of withdrawing (as the opposite type tends to do) they prefer to argue and quarrel, or try to reshape it according to their own pattern.
The introverted attitude, in contrast, is one of withdrawal the libido flows inward and is concentrated upon subjective factors, and the predominating influence is 'inner necessity'. When this attitude is habitual Jung speaks of an 'introverted type'. This type lacks confidence in relation to people and things, tends to be unsociable, and prefers reflection to activity. Each type undervalues the other, seeing the negative rather than the positive qualities of the opposite attitude, a fact which has led to endless misunderstanding and, even in the course of time, to the formulation of antagonistic philosophies, conflicting psychologies, and different values and ways of life
(Wikipedia says that) The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decision. The questionnaire was created based on an extrapolation from the typological theories proposed by Carl Gustav Jung's 1921 book Psychological Types .
Jung had theorized that there are four principal psychological functions by which humans experience the world –
· sensation—perception by means of the sense organs
· intuition—perceiving in unconscious way or perception of unconscious contents
· thinking—function of intellectual cognition; the forming of logical conclusions
· feeling—function of subjective estimation and that one of these four functions is dominant most of the time and that personalities are either extraverted or intraverted.
The eight psychological types are therefore as follows:
· Extraverted sensation
· Introverted sensation
· Extraverted intuition
· Introverted intuition
· Extraverted thinking
· Introverted thinking
· Extraverted feeling
· Introverted feeling
3. More on Archetypes
Carl Jung first applied the term archetype to literature. He recognized that there were universal patterns in all stories and mythologies regardless of culture or historical period and hypothesized that part of the human mind contained a collective unconscious shared by all members of the human species, a sort of universal, primal memory. Joseph Campbell took Jung’s ideas and applied them to world mythologies. In A Hero with a Thousand Faces, among other works, he refined the concept of hero and the hero’s journey—
George Lucas used Campbell’s writings to formulate the Star Wars saga. Recognizing archetypal patterns in literature brings patterns we all unconsciously respond to in similar ways to a conscious level.
The term archetype can be applied to:
• An image
• A theme
• A symbol
• An idea
• A character type
• A process or plot pattern
Archetypes can be expressed in
Examples of Heroic Archetypes
· Hero as warrior (Odysseus): A near god-like hero faces physical challenges and external enemies
· Hero as lover (Prince Charming): A pure love motivate hero to complete his quest
· Hero as Scapegoat (Jesus): Hero suffers for the sake of others
· Transcendent Hero: The hero of tragedy whose fatal flaw brings about his downfall, but not without achieving some kind of transforming realization or wisdom (Greek and Shakespearean tragedies—Oedipus, Hamlet, Macbeth, etc.)
· Romantic/Gothic Hero: Hero/lover with a decidedly dark side (Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre)
· Proto-Feminist Hero: Female heroes (The Awakening by Kate Chopin)
· Apocalyptic Hero: Hero who faces the possible destruction of society
· Anti-Hero: A non-hero, given the vocation of failure, frequently humorous (Homer Simpson)
· Defiant Anti-hero: Opposer of society’s definition of heroism/goodness. (Heart of Darkness)
· Unbalanced Hero: The Protagonist who has (or must pretend to have) mental or emotional deficiencies (Hamlet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
· The Other—the Denied Hero: The protagonist whose status or essential otherness makes heroism possible (Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan)
· The Superheroic: Exaggerates the normal proportions of humanity; frequently has divine or supernatural origins. In some sense, the superhero is one apart, someone who does not quite belong, but who is nonetheless needed by society. (Mythological heroes, Superman
Examples of Types of Archetypal Journeys (I see these as processes)
· The quest for identity
· The epic journey to find the promised land/to found the good city
· The quest for vengeance
· The warrior’s journey to save his people
· The search for love (to rescue the princess/damsel in distress)
· The journey in search of knowledge
· The tragic quest: penance or self-denial
· The fool’s errand
· The quest to rid the land of danger
· The grail quest (the quest for human perfection)
Examples of Situational Archetypes (I see these leading the process archetypes):
· The Quest: What the Hero must accomplish in order to bring fertility back to the wasteland, usually a search for some talisman, which will restore peace, order, and normalcy to a troubled land.
· The Task: The almost superhuman feat(s) the Hero must perform in order to accomplish his quest.
I feel comfortable with these interpretations. They appeal to me and I think that archetypes should. For a longer list see:
And Jung again:
Talking Therapy, Archetypes and the collective unconscious
The concept of the archetype, which is an indispensable correlate to the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere. Mythological research calls them "motifs"; in the psychology of primitives they correspond to Levy- Bruhl's concept of "representations collectives," and in the field of comparative religion they have been defined by Hubert and Mauss as "categories of the imagination." Adolf Bastian long ago called them "elementary" or "primordial thoughts." From these references, it should be clear enough that my idea of the archetype -- literally a pre-existent form -- does not stand alone, but is something that is recognized and named in other fields of knowledge.
My view along my studies, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually, but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
The collective unconscious is a part of the psyche which can be negatively distinguished from a personal unconscious by the fact that is does not, like the latter, owe its existence to personal experience and consequently is not personal acquisition. While the personal unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one time been conscious, but which have disappeared from consciousness through having been forgotten or repressed, the contents of the collective unconscious have never been in consciousness, and therefore have never been individually acquired but owe their existence exclusively to heredity.
Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes.
4. Jung and Tarot
On 1 March 1933, Carl Jung spoke about the Tarot during a seminar he was conducting on active imagination. This is a transcript of some of his actual spoken words:
“Another strange field of occult experience in which the hermaphrodite appears is the Tarot. That is a set of playing cards, such as were originally used by the gypsies. There are Spanish specimens, if I remember rightly, as old as the fifteenth century.
They are psychological images, symbols with which one plays, as the unconscious seems to play with its contents. They combine in certain ways, and the different combinations correspond to the playful development of events in the history of mankind.
The original cards of the Tarot consist of the ordinary cards, the king, the queen, the knight, the ace, etc.,—only the figures are somewhat different—and besides, there are twenty-one cards upon which are symbols, or pictures of symbolical situations. For example, the symbol of the sun, or the symbol of the man hung up by the feet, or the tower struck by lightning, or the wheel of fortune, and so on.
Those are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events.
5. Studying Jung: the problems
Getting to grips with his prose which has been translated from the original German. For example, the translator’s note in:
“The difficulties in translating a book such as this are almost insuperable, but I have tried faithfully to express Dr Jung’s thoughts, keeping as close to the original text as possible and, at the same time, rendering the difficult German phrasing as simply and clearly as the subject matter would allow”.
In both his contributions to
a) Analytical psychology and the structure of the human psyche
b) Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
Jung produced many very lengthy works in German - some of which have only recently become available to the public. Perhaps because his style (certainly in the English translations) appears as extremely verbose, the many people who have sought to summarise Jung’s theories have produced some significantly different interpretations. Moreover, trying to summarise or précis the works of a man such as Jung ideally requires a peer.
Checking on traceability – many people have developed Jung’s ideas and conclusions and confirming what actually comes from Jung himself can be difficult. Much recent work that purports to be based on Jung seems to me to lack the logic in Jung’s original conclusions; Jung’s own ideas did alter over his lifetime. As I implied earlier, Jung was and is, in intellectual terms, a hard, perhaps impossible, act to attempt to understand, never mind follow.
And in a book based on interviews with Jung, this comment by him is quoted:
“The author's task would have been much simpler if she had been in possession of a neat theory for a point de depart, and of well-defined case-material without digressions into the immense field of general psychology. The latter, however, seems to me to form the only safe basis and measure for the evaluation of pathological phenomena, as normal anatomy and physiology are an indispensable precondition for their pathological aspect. Just as human anatomy has a long evolution behind it, the psychology of modern man depends upon its historical roots, and can only be judged by its ethnological variants. My works therefore offer innumerable possibilities of sidetracking the reader's attention with considerations of this sort.
Under those somewhat trying circumstances the author has nevertheless succeeded in extricating herself from all the opportunities to make mis-statements. She has delivered a fair and simple account of the main aspects of my psychological work. I am indebted to her for this admirable piece of work”.
6. Jung and religion Carl Jung and Paganism
Vivianne Crowley, Department of Pastoral Studies,
Carl Jung and the Development of Contemporary Paganism.
Gardner wrote of witchcraft as of an ancient Pagan fertility cult, now opening its doors to a wider public in the liberal climate following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act. He had no need to justify his new brand of spirituality through Jungian psychology because he was justifying it in other ways. It was the Old Religion, the true faith, the fairy faith, the hidden heritage of Britain.
In the writings of Doreen Valiente, one of Gardner‘s early initiates:
What the great psychologist Jung, discovered by painstaking research and observation, the poet before him had known intuitively. … The gods and goddesses are personifications of the powers of nature; or perhaps one should say, of supernature, the powers, which govern and bring forth the life of our world, both manifest and hidden. … Moreover, when such a magical image has been built up and strengthened over the course of centuries by worship and ritual, it becomes powerful in itself, because it becomes ensouled by that which it personified. … some thought-forms, such as the ‗Great Mother‘, the ‗Wise Old Man‘, and the ‗Divine Child‘, are so universal that he calls them archetypes, dwelling as they do in the collective unconscious of mankind ...
Similarly, Janet and Stewart Farrar use Jung‘s terms ‘collective unconscious‘and ‘archetypes‘in their most famous book The Witches Way.
‘Witches are not fools, they live in the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages, and there are a good many scientists and technicians among them. The working power of the Craft arises from the emotions, from the vast deep of the Collective Unconscious as described by Jung. The Gods and Goddesses of Witchcraft draw their forms from the numinous Archetypes ...’
To put it more simply, as Starhawk does in The Spiral Dance, ‘Psychology is simply a branch of magic.‘
Jung‘s ideas are readily translatable into magical language. Tanya Luhrmann in her ethnography of ritual magicians and witches in North London in the 1980s, comments on the appeal of Jung‘s concept of the collective unconscious to magicians (and the same could be said of witches). Jungian ideas can be used to explain magic. Conversely, magical experience and thinking can be translated into the language of Jungian psychology.
Jung and New Age Paganism represent a topic in its own right.
7. Jung and Magic
Synchronicity and MAGIC
When Jung explored the unconscious mind, he discovered that at its deepest layer there emerged psychic patterns or personalities that were the same in all individuals and that can be found in religions and myths in all peoples throughout time. He called these the archetypes. At the deepest level of the unconscious, he, like the quantum physicist exploring matter, found that he lost sight of the archetypes as they merged into the vast sea of the collective unconscious. For this, he used the alchemical term “Unus Mundus”.
When we use an oracle, such as the I Ching or the Tarot, we bring these unconscious archetypes into consciousness through the use of symbols. The archetypes, or we may call them the Gods, are a more immediate manifestation of the place where the patterns are being formed that will become our future physical reality. Therefore, this gives us the opportunity to intervene and create the future that we desire. This brings us back to the initial problem of defining magic.
When we perform magic, we use symbols to manipulate the inner world of the psyche, and thereby, change happens in the outer physical world. When we succeed in doing this, the changes seem miraculous – that is they seem to happen outside of the normal cause and effect relationships of the physical world or to intervene in them in some mysterious way. By using symbols to manipulate the psyche we are activating the archetypes – in fact in many magic rituals we deliberately contact them as gods, angels, or demons. Therefore, the magical event is the manifestation of an archetype, in other words, synchronicity.
Jung feels that synchronicity, or magic, is a causal act of pure creation. This concept is almost impossible for our Western trained minds to grasp. The definitions, which I quoted above, try to explain that magic is a cause and effect phenomenon making use of a force that science does not yet recognize. Whereas, saying that it is a causal is like saying that it just happens, but it seems to us that our symbolic ritual is causing it because these two things always coincide. Is magic just an illusion created by our ego to convince it that it is in charge?
When we attempt to fulfil our desires through magic, it may seem to the ego that it is causing change. However, the very desires that the ego is trying to fulfil came from the archetypes. Perhaps, our magical actions are a manifestation of the archetypes as well. Jung has supplied evidence to support this view by demonstrating that most people perform daily rituals and yet remain unconscious of their symbolism.
8. My questions
I feel that Vivianne Crowley’s comments, and Doreen Valiente’s, are very relevant but not necessarily sufficient (but of course they had no need to make them sufficient for my purposes) as regards positioning Jung’s conclusions (or vice versa) in the context of paganism in general and hermetics in particular and leave us to consider:
· The Elements. Where do they fit in and in what capacity? Should they fit in?
· Archetypes – what qualifies and does not? Can we choose roles and processes etc or who does? Do modern myths present new archetypes or do they have to align with Jung’s?
· The main components of the psyche: if not archetypes, what is their status? Equally, what is the status of complexes? Does it matter?
· How does the hermetic principle of ‘planes’ (material, astral and mental) link with Jungian concepts?
· What about Jung’s attitude to libido? Is what he has in mind ‘life force’ or ‘spirit’?
· What Jung can do / does for us?
........ and no doubt many other questions. I am still pondering on the six above. I hope you will too.
9. A final point
Comment has been made as to the stereotypical and / or sexist nature of Jung’s archetypes and the same criticism could be made of elements within some of his works.
I suggest that, to some extent, Jung was a creature of his time and the social standards of his time. Having said that, if one accepts my interpretation of the archetypal principle, then I note from Wikipedia that ‘In social psychology, a stereotype is a thought that can be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things’. I may be quite wrong here, but is that not implied by Jung’s principles?
Austin Kleon —
of Steal Like An Artist fame — has this sketchnote visualization of the Jung’s book ‘ Memories,