“People must know they are in conflict. They must be able to carry the conflict. That is consciousness.” Carl Jung, as told to M.I. Rix Weaver, J.E.T., Pages 90-95.
Leaving our Epoch II ego consciousness behind is daunting and painful because the ego is suffering the trauma of dying to “the world’s” opinions. As Dr. Michael Washburn notes (Transpersonal Psychology in Psychoanalytic Perspective, pp. 183-216), symptoms of the ego’s death throes include a lack of psychic energy, a sense of alienation from the world, unstable relationships, mood shifts, depression, extreme anxiety, impulsiveness, potentially self-damaging behaviors, intense and inappropriate anger, emptiness, boredom, identity disturbances, and so on.
These common symptoms point to the Epoch II ego’s dis-ease and its need for purging and opening before new psycho-spiritual life can be born. This process often starts with a painful crisis that forces us to acknowledge our shadow and the undeveloped masculine and feminine forces of our psyche. Help can be found in various forms of mental training that explore the unconscious. Some people use spiritual practices—prayer, meditation, contemplation and mindfulness—to observe their thinking. Psychological practices like dreamwork, psychotherapy and active imagination likewise help us retrieve repressed material and identify and control toxic mental events and emotions.
“…this work brings many benefits, including affirming self-knowledge, deeply satisfying personal meaning, freedom from the compulsion to please or impress, the joy of clearly seeing the underlying patterns of our lives from a cosmic perspective, a sense of connectedness to nature and all of life, and benevolent thoughts and actions guided by a conscious immersion in the Divine Unity.” J.B. Raffa, Healing the Sacred Divide, p. 73.
Jung noted that this work leads
“to the union of opposites in the archetypal form of the hierosgamos or ‘chymical wedding.’ Here the supreme opposites, male and female . . . are melted into a unity purified of all opposition and therefore incorruptible.” C.G. Jung, CW xii, para 37.
The alchemists called this the sacred marriage of the King and Queen. Psychologists call it individuation and wholeness. Spirit persons refer to it as enlightenment. All are names for Epoch III Integrated Consciousness. As the famed ‘pearl of great price’ it is highly sought; however, the way is closed to even the most intelligent and pious Epoch II ego until it is brought low enough to face its powerlessness and ask for help. Richard Rohr quotes Bill Wilson, Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection; that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth.” –Bill Wilson (Cited in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, June 10, 2016).
Every living thing is compelled to evolve into an improved form. As individuals find healing and rebirth, society follows. But pain, weakness and humiliation do not go down well in patriarchy and at present we can expect little help from that front. In writing about the rash of mass shootings in the U.S. over the last several decades, Mary Harrell, a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist, points to the need to incorporate qualities associated with the feminine principle into societal institutions. Harrell asks
“How can our nation’s boys effectively manage hate and rage when they live in a society that splits all aspects of the human condition into good and evil?” Mary Harrell, Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life, p. 79.
“Unfortunately, it is our schools—reflections of the larger culture—that have marginalized the archetypal feminine, the Goddess. Because she has been cast into the dark place of repression and denial, she can’t transform excesses of rage and hate.” Harrell, p. 82.
Harrell notre that transforming educational systems
“…requires conversations, and especially direct initiatives aimed at inclusiveness and effective response to cultural wounding. Valuing the Goddess calls for consideration of issues of war and peace within a frame of death and life, rather than through a sole masculine expression of “higher values” like nationalism, and freedom, thereby bloating an expanded military agenda….These goddess perspectives need to balance the patriarchal attitude, which defines the school curriculum, usually by overvaluing science, math, and technology (intending that the nation will stay ahead in a competitive—masculine—rather than a collaborative—feminine—process).” Harrell, pp. 83-4.
I wrote the above last week. As I conclude this post two days before its scheduled publication, I am struck by a bizarre synchronicity. This morning a rage-filled young man killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in my home town of Orlando. Mourning this outrage, I still remain hopeful of positive change.
What We Can Do
1. Notice and reflect on what’s happening in your inner and outer life.
2. See your conflicts and crises as meaningful messages from your inner feminine who wants to awaken deep feeling, humility, willingness and surrender.
3. Help her express herself creatively through art, poetry, writing, dreamwork, ritual, etc.
4. Unless you are in an abusive situation, tolerate the tension as long as possible without doing anything rash. Trust that healing and balance will come if you stay with your struggle.
5. Share your earned wisdom in your own unique way.
Together, we can make a difference. If a critical mass of individuals frees their dragons from their psychological prisons, future generations will see us as heroic pioneers who led humanity into the “Epoch III Ego Evolution Revolution.”
“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” ~Jung CW 9i, Page 32, Para 66.
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Thank you Jeannie! From microscopic to macroscopic – we can each contribute in a microscopic meaningful way in bringing about change on a macroscopic level in the outer world. How can it be otherwise? It starts with each person – each to free themselves of their dragons and to not pass on their baggage to their offspring. If their places of learning in the wider world continue to march to a patriarchal tune, the child can know that this is one-sided, because s/he has learned otherwise in the bosom of the family. What a huge responsibility we carry as parents on our shoulders, but one that must be borne, embraced and endured, for the betterment of all.
Thank you for the quotes from Harrell, Jung and yours …
And to Orlando, my deepest condolences and sympathies.
Thank you for your observations and condolences, Susan. Orlando is still reeling from the shock.
Yes, it starts with parents. I have a friend who half-jokingly says people ought to have a license to become parents! My response is that licenses don’t prevent drivers from having accidents! Only heightened attention and awareness can do that, and, of course, not even that can guarantee that no damage will occur. But our early experiences in the parental nest are surely the most crucial factors influencing an ego’s choices.
And sadly, we’ve very seriously marginalized Black men in the USA to the point that many fewer households have a male role model. This leaves emerging youth to train other youth, which often leads to prison, and the university of crime. It’s actually a very serious Shadow aspect of our society, where we have basically converted them into a slave labor class again, where their work for major conglomerates is meagerly paid. It’s quite a racket the prison industry has going.
It is surely a sad state of affairs. Unfortunately, there are better models available that focus on helping and awakening instead of marginalizing and punishing, but they are often rejected as undesirable “ism’s.” One-sided focuses and ideals have a way of thwarting real progress from the ground up.
I’m grateful for those five “What Can We Do” points at the end. Moving into a new phase of consciousness is a life-time work. As a young person, I didn’t know the path would spiral as it does, but I also didn’t know about the constant rewards, insights, and moments of illumination along the way. I agree we get brought to our knees many times. Like you, I’ve learned to value those lessons even if the more primitive aspects of my ego grumble and whine. I love how you point out the many paths to integration and consciousness. I’m grateful everyday that I was taught the Jungian path at the same time I learned about meditation and the study of philosophy. It helped to be able to work with them at the same time. Paul Brunton aptly names this the Long Path and the Short Path. We must do both. Your “we can do this” attitude is so important in a defeated and discouraged world. When I heard about the Orlando killings, I thought of you holding the conscious end of the opposites that were constellated in your area. Keep holding, Jeanie.
Yes, who knew that getting older could be better? I certainly didn’t when I was young. After years of wondering what the heck was wrong with me, then finally getting up the nerve to do something about it, even thought I was terrified of what I’d learn about myself, it was an enormously welcome surprise to begin experiencing the “constant rewards, insights, and moments of illumination along the way.” And they’re still coming! (As long as I keep working at it, anyway.) Which makes me wonder how much more there is ahead of us. One of the things I love most about this journey is learning to trust the cycles as they come without fighting them. I do still fight them sometimes, and I worry too, but then when I remember how bad my memory is, I start trusting again and more rewards come my way!!!
I love your observation that we must do the Long Path and the Short Path. I hadn’t thought of it that way but it’s perfect.
Thanks for thinking of me in Orlando’s time of crisis. It’s been a very rude and painful wakeup call for many of us. But then along come the moments of grace, such as a note I received from a young friend today about the “healing dogs,” (12 golden retrievers), who were sent to a summer improv acting camp here that’s taught by women my family knows well, to bring love and warmth and cheer to the children, some of whom were quite traumatized by the news, and at least one of whom had a personal connection to it. The report was on CNN this morning. And the overall effect was very powerful and helpful.
It’s especially good to be reminded of the goodness in the world at times like this,