As many of you know, I’ve been taking a sabbatical from regular blog writing after over three years of composing twice-weekly posts. But I’ve been staying in touch on Twitter and Facebook through reposts of some of my favorites from the past. As I write this it’s Labor Day and we’ve just returned to Florida from our summer home in the North Carolina mountains.
Just before I left I received this comment after one of my reposts. Busy with packing, traveling and reuniting with our family, I’ve been unable to respond until now, but I’ve been thinking about it all weekend. Having just written my response, it occurred to me that our conversation would be great material for a new blog post.
Here it is:
Hi Jeanie, In doing an online search for the meaning of psyche in relation to soul and Self, I googled your blog and saw that you posted recently…nice to have you back! If you have a moment, can you clarify for me or refer me to a specific post? As well, I’ve come across two books I really like: “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr and “The Light Inside the Dark” by John Tarrant…have you read them?
This is a tough one that has stumped the brightest minds throughout the ages. I don’t know the answer, but I can tell you what I think I think at this moment!
Self: For me, Self is the central archetype of the human “mind” (another difficult term to describe). It encompasses everything about my personhood and distills it into my core desire to evolve, to transcend my human limitations and connect with the Grand Mystery. Jung called this compelling and wonder-filling form of energy our God-image. IT’s what tells us there is something “more” beyond what our puny egos can possibly know, and IT causes us to want to unite with IT.
Soul: Right now I see Soul as my unique essence, one small, but valuable and ongoing part of the Grand Mystery. My body is a physical manifestation of this very real, but invisible entity we call the soul. My soul has a unique contribution to make to physical life, and it will continue to exist, as does every form of energy, after it leaves my physical body.
Psyche: Psyche has long been considered another name for Soul. In Greek myth, the soul’s journey through life was personified in the human woman Psyche who, through her love for the God Eros (Love), was transformed into a Goddess. If I had to make a distinction between Psyche and Soul, it would be that Psyche is the aspects of the Soul that are accessible to humans through our study of psychology and the human personality.
These are fine distinctions that are by no means utterly clear. At least not to me. There are times when I use all three terms interchangeably, depending on the particular manifestation I’m talking about: archetypal reality (Self), physical/spiritual essence (Soul), or personality (Psyche). Three in one. Hmmmm….. Sounds familiar.
Thank you for this wonderful question. I hope I’ve answered it adequately for you. Thanks also for the book recommendations. I haven’t read either one, but will check them out.