Ego and God-Image: Part VIII


“Anything conscious can be corrected. But anything that slips away into the unconscious is beyond the reach of correction and, its rank growth undisturbed, is subject to increasing degeneration. Happily, nature sees to it that the unconscious contents will irrupt into consciousness sooner or later and create the necessary confusion.” C.G. Jung, Mysterium Conjunctions, CW 14, par.672

Epoch III:  Integrated Consciousness

Epoch III is a realm of potentially limitless consciousness in which we no longer project our own ego-consciousness onto a God outside us, but open to all that God may be and develop an inner relationship with God. With earlier levels of self-awareness, we didn’t ask for admittance, we just walked in. But Epoch III is the seeker’s domain and despite the crises that invite us to explore it, it will not open to us unless we knock.

Descending into the unknown and honoring its truths is daunting. It can also be painful because the ego is suffering the trauma of dying to “the world’s” opinions. Dr. Michael Washburn, author of Transpersonal Psychology in Psychoanalytic Perspective says that this psychological death is often accompanied by 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 a purging and opening of the ego that must occur before new psycho-spiritual life can be born. This often starts with reassessing society’s conventional moral and religious ideas, rejecting those which no longer serve our growth, and integrating new ones that do. Help can be found in various forms of mental training that explore the non-egoic realm. Some people use spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, and mindfulness to observe their thinking and come to terms with negative or compulsive thoughts and worries. Dreamwork, bodywork, psychotherapy, analysis, art, reading, journaling, study, and active imagination likewise help us retrieve repressed material and identify and control toxic mental events and emotions as they arise.

At a conscious level this work might be motivated purely by a desire to alleviate our discomfort; but as Carl Jung discovered through fearless and lengthy exploration of his unconscious self (a three-year journey recorded in his extraordinary The Red Book), it nevertheless has the consequence of activating the Self. As Washburn states, “In dying to the world, the ego also dies to the God-image it had projected upon the world” and a new and deeper faith is born. Opening to the reality of the indwelling Sacred ushers us into a fresh new realm suffused with sacred meaning. Entering this realm is not a function of any particular religion or set of beliefs, but a natural unfolding of the potential for growth in every soul.

In the Middle Ages many Jewish, Muslim, and Christian mystics experienced an Epoch III increase into the Divine Unity of God and used the art of alchemy to explore its deeper meaning. For them, transforming base metals into gold was a metaphor for perfecting the spirit by transforming fixed, solid aspects of the personality (so sure of their rightness that they are essentially dead), into a fresh, childlike openness.

Jung noted that in the ultimate phase of the work this leads

“to the union of opposites in the archetypal form of the hierosgamos or ‘chemical wedding’.  Here the supreme opposites, male and female . . . are melted into a unity purified of all opposition and therefore incorruptible.” C.G.Jung, “Introduction to the Religious and Psychological Problems of Alchemy,” in Psychology and Alchemy, 2nd. ed, CW, 12, 37.

The alchemists called this the sacred marriage of the King and Queen, and saw it as the key to comprehending the Ancient Mysteries, the lost wisdom that brings Enlightenment.

Whereas Epoch I is about Mother and Epoch II about Father, Epoch III belongs to the Self, or Divine Couple. Their relationship develops within us as we consciously integrate opposites that were formerly separated. This is the growth into individuation and wholeness that is the goal of psychology, and the way of enlightenment of which spirit persons speak. It is our magnum opus, the most beautiful work of art a human can create and the fulfillment of our greatest potential: to become the unique, creative beings we really are. Completion of 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.

Art Credit: The Sacred Marriage, Artist unknown. Union of Opposites: Artist unknown.

This material was taken from Healing the Sacred Divide.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at

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9 Responses

  1. The secret marriage! An engaging term that says it is all about reaching the Self. It may be as usual that Dr Jung, as he got older, he sank more into himself. I feel it when I read his Red Book. I don’t believe I can reach this, as I see myself ageing. I feel I just miss points as I look back, and I feel as if I could go back there at that moment and enjoy more of it or make it better! Thank you, dear Jeane, for another enriching episode.

    1. Hi Aladin. Did I write “secret” marriage? Oh, just checked it out. No, it’s the “Sacred” Marriage: the ultimate integration and union of pairs of opposites within us. This relates to our psyche’s ability to tolerate the tension created by the conflicting interests/needs of both sides and finding a third way (also called the Third Force) to resolve the tension with respect for both and using a broader view to find a new, original solution that satisfies both.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back in time and resolve conflicts from our older, wiser perspective? Too bad we can’t do that, but we can learn from past choices to be more aware when similar situations come up and make wiser choices this time. As to whether or now you can do that as you see yourself age, I have felt the same way, sometimes. But I have a strong need to keep growing so I’m still working at it. Still doing dreamwork, with lots of writing and analyzing the symbols and emotions and relating them to my life. Lots more journaling and dialoging with inner characters to see what new insights I can acquire. It’s really helping in lots of ways. Bringing more self-awareness, freeing up more energy, bringing more pleasure in everyday situations and interactions with others. I believe this Magnum Opus is a never-ending work of a lifetime.

      Wishing you continued insights and growth, my friend.

      Love, Jeanie

      1. Oops! I made a typo again!? It shows my aged eyes and mind… Sorry.
        I will keep your wise advice in my heart and mind, although I meant with my wishes to get back in time, it is because of my lost beloved and the time I have spent with them. They are all gone, and these can’t be renewed in the future with new people. Nevertheless, I am grateful for every word from you. Blessing

        1. I understand your wish to get back in time to be with your lost loved ones. I feel that way about mine too. It’s so sad to lose these relationships that meant so much to us, and still do. So sorry for your losses. Blessings.

  2. Just brilliant Jeanie! You perfectly sum up where I find myself today, stood before the threshold of Epoch III. Since midlife, many friends (and enemies/shadow), Jungians, poets and dreamers have brought me to this place, where occasionally I find myself slipping into the most glorious and surreal world of balance and harmony. I don’t stay long. Sometimes it’s for a moment, sometimes it’s for an hour. But it happens and I’m joyful and deeply appreciative when it does.

    Thank you so much for sharing this rich, insightful extract taken from your third book, Healing the Sacred Divide. A book that rests, muses and dreams on my book shelves, next to its three sisters, The Bridge to Wholeness, Dream Theatres of the Soul and The Soul’s Twins. Four books I will be reading for the rest of my life. Lucky me! Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Aww, Deborah, it’s good to hear from you. It’s great to have you back from your sabbatical from social media. It’s such a helpful practice. I’ve been doing that to a lesser degree off and on for a while too. It just depends on my time and energy. I’m rationing them both with more self-awareness than ever before. I don’t want to overwork or stress myself out any more. And I want more time to do all the things I love. Not just a few. Striving for perfection is not an easy habit to break, but I’m finding it much easier these days to drop the reins and get out of the saddle without feeling self-critical.

      Thank you for sharing aspects of your long and arduous journey and the rewards you’re experiencing. I find it so helpful to hear other people’s stories about their journeys into wholeness. They bring comfort and hope. That’s why I share my own stories in my writing. It’s a way I can help others who are like me.

      And thank you for owning and reading and learning from and mentioning my books! It makes my day to know my writing has shed a little light on sister and brother seekers!!

      Love, Jeanie

  3. Love this post!…Divine synchronicity that I read this wide eyed with a cup of this morning’s strong coffee. It explains what I have been going through over the last several years… the depression, confusion, the pain of letting ego go, letting the label of “artist” go. …this post is a confirmation that I am not crazy. And almost unbelievably, I had an inspired vision in the middle of the last night, yes last night, of how I was to do further soul work and healing for my personal growth through art, yin yoga, swimming, connections, community. To manifest and materialize the narrative in the studio, to honor my breath, to be like water, to resonate peace, joy, love and unity…. “It” was one of “those” epic visions… I clearly saw me working on some autobiographical, archeological pieces using gold leaf… I have always loved the word “alchemy”. And melting the many other aspects of my life into “being”. It’s like you read my mind and saw my visions…and sent this to me this morning! It’s definitely a sign and the time that I am to take this path, this Epoch III path. Thank you Jean. Namaste. Brilliant.

  4. Oh Jo! I have no doubt that whether or not you and I read each others’ minds, the Universe (or Self, or One Mind, or Mystery, or whatever we call it) “read your mind” and sent your vision. I see synchronicities like this as little—or sometimes BIG, as in this case—affirming nods, pats or messages from this Sacred Other at the center of a massive web of connections between all beings, all types and varieties of life.

    It’s like the Sacred Other is saying, “I see you. I know you. And I love you. Bless you. You’re on the right track.” And you can tell it’s Real by the numinous nature of the feelings it leaves you with—a sense of awe, wonder, joy, hope, and deep gratitude—as well as a burst of energy and inspiration for a new direction.

    I agree that it’s a sign that this is the time to take this path, this Epoch III path. Thank you for taking the time to write this comment. It’s a huge gift to me today.

    Wishing you love, light, and blessings on your evolving journey.

    Love, Jeanie

  5. The day will surely come that masculine and feminine energies will harmonise with each other. The wheel turns slowly, but turn it does. Thanks Jeanie for articulating this sacredness so beautifully. Love, susan

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