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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Thus the emancipation of consciousness and the fragmentation
of archetypes are far from being a negative process in the
sense that primitive man experiences an “animated” world, while
modern man knows only an “abstract” one. Pure existence in the
unconscious, which primitive man shares with the animal, is
indeed nonhuman and prehuman. The fact that the dawn of
consciousness and the creation of the world are parallel processes
which throw up the same symbolism indicates that the
world actually “exists” only to the degree that it is cognized by
an ego. A differentiated world is the reflection of a self-differentiating
consciousness. The multiple archetypes and symbol
groups split off from a primordial archetype are identical with
the ego’s greater range of experience, knowledge, and insight.
Under the total impact of experience in the dawn period no
particularized forms could be recognized, for the tremendous
force of it extinguished the ego in a sort of numinous convulsion.
But a more informed human consciousness can experience,
in the multiplicity of religions and philosophies, theologies and
psychologies, the innumerable facets and meanings of the
numinous, now anatomized into image and symbol, attribute
and revelation. That is to say, although the primal unity can
only be experienced fragmentarily, it has at least come within
range of conscious experience, whereas for the undeveloped ego
it was utterly overwhelming.

– Erich Neumann (OaHoC, p. 329)

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The activity of the hero in his fight with the dragon is that
of the acting, wiling, and discriminating ego which, no longer
fascinated and overpowered, and abandoning its youthful attitude
of passive defense, seeks out the danger, performs new
and extraordinary deeds, and battles its way to victory. The
supremacy of the Great Mother, the control she exercised
through the instinctual power of the body, is superseded by the
relative autonomy of the ego, of the higher spiritual man who
has a will of his own and obeys his reason. Faust’s wresting of
the land from the sea symbolizes the primal deed of heroic consciousness,
which snatches new territory from the unconscious
and places it under the rule of the ego. Just as on the adolescent
level the dominant features* were passivity, fear, and defense
against the unconscious, so on the heroic level the ego plucks
up courage and goes over to the offensive. It is immaterial
whether the direction of this offensive be introverted or extraverted,
since both flanks are occupied by the Great Mother
dragon, whether we call her nature, the world, or the unconscious
psyche.

Erich Neumann ( OaHoC, p. 317)

The cardinal discovery of transpersonal psychology is that the
collective psyche, the deepest layer of the unconscious, is the
living ground current from which is derived everything to do
with a particularized ego possessing consciousness: upon this it
is based, by this it is nourished, and without this it cannot exist.
The group psyche which, as we shall see later, is not to be confused
with the mass psyche is characterized by the primary
preponderance of unconscious elements and components, and
by the recession of individual consciousness. In saying this we
must, however, emphasize that at this deep level it is not so
much a question of recession, dissolution, or regression; it is
rather that consciousness is still in abeyance, being not yet developed
or only partially developed. Tardes* formula that “the
social, like the hypnotic, state is only a form of dreaming” is
a neat summing up of the original group situation. Only, we
must not regard our modem, waking consciousness as the obvious
point of departure and then, on the analogy of hypnosis,
take the participation mystique of the group psyche to be a limi-
tation of this waking state. The reverse is true; the conscious
state is the late and uncommon phenomenon, and its complete
attainment is far more of a rarity than modern man so flatteringly
pretends, while the unconscious state is the original, basic,
psychic situation that is everywhere the rule.

Group unity in participation is still so widely prevalent, even
in modern man, that it is only through the ceaseless conscious
efforts of certain individuals of genius that we gradually become
aware of the psychic factors which, as the unconscious “cultural
pattern” we so blindly accept, regulate the life and death of each
one of us. Although enjoying a higher conscious development,
probably, than any previously attained by man, modem individuals,
for all their conscious achievements, are still deeply embedded
in the tissue of their group and its unconscious laws.

– Erich Neumann (OaHoC, p. 270-1)

The ego complex is a content of consciousness as well as a condition of
consciousness, for a psychic element is conscious to me so far as it is related
to the ego complex. But so far as the ego is only the center of my field
of consciousness, it is not identical with the whole of my psyche, being
merely one complex among other complexes.

– Jung, Psychological Types

This indivisibility of group, individual, and external world is
found wherever psychic contents–contents, that is to say, which
our present-day consciousness recognizes as psychic and which
it therefore relegates to the world within us are projected upon
the world at large and are experienced as though they were
outside ourselves. Contents of this kind are recognized readily
enough as projections when they derive from earlier epochs,
from alien spheres of culture, or from other people, but it becomes
increasingly difficult for us to do so the more closely they
approximate to the unconscious conditions of our own time, our
own culture, and our own personality. The animism which endows
trees with indwelling spirits, idols with divinity, holy
places with wonder-working powers, or human beings with magical
gifts is easily seen through; for us it is a transparent case
of “projection.” We know that trees, idols, holy places, and human
beings are recognizable objects of the external world, into
which early man projected his inner psychic contents. By recognizing
them, we withdraw such “primitive projections,” we
diagnose them as autosuggestion or something of the sort, and
thus the fusion effected by participation between man and the
objects of the external world is nullified. But when it comes to
experiencing God’s intervention in world history, or the sanctity
of the Fatherland symbolized by flag or king, or the devilish
intentions of nations beyond the latest Iron Curtain, or even the
bad character of those we dislike or the good character of those
we love; when it comes to experiencing these as a projection,
then our psychological powers of discernment incontinently fail
us, not to mention the fact that we cannot lay our finger on the
most blatant examples of all for the simple reason that they are
entirely unconscious and belong to the preconceptions which
we accept without question.

– Erich Neumann (Origin and History of Consciousness, p.267-8)

The third type of hero does not seek to change the world through his struggle with inside or outside, but to transform the personality. Self-transformation is his true aim, and the liberating effect this has upon the world is only secondary. His self-transformation may be held up as a human ideal, but his consciousness is not directed in the narrower sense to the collective; for in him centroversion expresses a natural and fundamental trend of the human psyche, which is operative from the very beginning and which forms the basis not only of self-preservation, but of self-formation as well.

We have followed the birth of ego consciousness and of the individual all through the archetypal stages whose climax was reached in the hero’s fight with the dragon. In this development a constant increase of centroversion can be detected, tending toward consolidation of the ego and the stabilization of consciousness. It gives rise to a standpoint, indeed a rallying point, from which to combat the dangerous fascination of the world and the unconscious–a fascination that lowers the level of consciousness and disintegrates the personality. Both attitudes types, introversion as well as extroversion, can easily succumb to this danger. Centroversion, by building up the conscious ego and by strengthening the personality, tries to protect them and to counteract the danger of disintegration. In this sense, the growth of individuality and its development are mankind’s answer to the “perils of the soul” that threaten from within, and to the “perils of the world” that threaten from without. Magic and religion, art, science, and technics are man’s creative efforts to cope with this threat on two fronts. At the center of all these endeavors stands the creative individual as the hero, who in the name of the collective–even when he is a lonely figure standing out against it–molds it into shape by molding himself.

– Erich Neumann (The Origin and History of Consciousness, p.220-1)

The Aim of the extroverted type of hero is action: he is the founder, leader, and liberator whose deeds change the face of the world. The Introverted type is the culture-bringer, the redeemer and savior who discovers the inner values, exalting them as knowledge and wisdom, as a law and a faith, a work to be accomplished and an example to be followed.

-Erich Neumann (The Origin and History of Consciousness, p.220)

O Mother
Goddess of the Earth

From you have I come and
To you do you beckon me.

Unity, fertility and marriage
Do you seek.

And if I take you what gifts can I give?
Ointments and clothing for your body?
Food and drink fit for the Gods?
What can I offer that no other man can?

What of my self can I gladly offer up to thee?

Would it not be my very manhood?
My strength and intelligence?
The vitality and potency of my consciousness
Rising out of the darkness
Of your womb and unconsciousness?

As for making you my wife I will not.

How would it go with me?
Your representatives betray you.

O Terrible Mother of Man

I have laid with one who was another’s.
I have surrendered and sacrificed for one
who cares not to keep me in her life.
I have felt the shadow of a woman stretch
over years of my life and I have seen many
Men fall under this shadow.
I have seen your representatives use
Us for rides or drinks.
I have seen women start fights between
Us with their twisted tongues.
I have seen and experienced women
purposefully hurting us and themselves
When their abominable behaviour was exposed.
I have been judged harshly by women who knew me not.
I have seen and fallen for your deceptive charms.
I know why you parade around in perfume and make up.

If I were a bird, my wing you’d break.

If I were a poet, my words you’d take.

But a man am I and my consciousness is mine.

For as you are now,
In the light of consciousness,
Only darkness can you give.

O Terrible Mother
Goddess of Earth and Man

I know not how women grow,
But as conscious experience shows;
How would it go with me?
Would I be treated any differently?

solitudinus

The form of representation peculiar to the unconscious is not that of the conscious mind. It neither attempts nor is able to seize hold of and define its object in a series of discursive explanations, and reduce them to clarity by logical analysis. The way of  the unconscious is different. Symbols gather round the thing to be explained, understood, interpreted. The act of becoming conscious consists in the concentric grouping of symbols around the object, all circumscribing and describing the unknown from many sides. Each symbol lays bare another essential side of the object to be grasped, points to another facet of meaning. Only the canon of these symbols congregating about the center in question, the coherent symbol group, can lead to an understanding of what the symbols point to and of what they are trying to express.

-Erich Neumann

 

And here we see the potency and importance of patience, for the child and learner does not know; is not conscious enough to grasp the whole. He may see many parts or sides but he does not see the whole as of yet. The symbols are only beginning to rise up into consciousness and with them the possibility of seeing and grasping the whole of what they are merely a part. And for this reason the true teacher does not tell or merely show those under his care what he knows or thinks he knows but involves them in this process of bringing the unknown through unconscious means to consciousness patiently. He allows those under his care to learn. That is his art and purpose. He is to increase the possibility of seeing and questioning by not getting in the way through abuse of power and position. He does not tell but merely opens up, lays bare and allows the object in question to show itself, to hold sway over their minds. He allows those under his care to question and if need be guides them back if they stray by posing questions himself. He also leaves behind tests and exams as these only deal with memory and not with actual sight and understanding. If there are to be tests at all they come from the questions he poses. Through the child’s responses he can come to see where they are and involve them even further into seeing for themselves where they are. In this way he need not become a disciplinarian for the child corrects himself; he sees for himself where and how he strayed.

 

solitudinus

But the earliest dawn is still prior to the birth of light out of the darkness, and a wealth of symbols surrounds it.

The form of representation peculiar to the unconscious is not that of the conscious mind. It neither attempts nor is able to seize hold of and define its object in a series of discursive explanations, and reduce them to clarity by logical analysis. The way of  the unconscious is different. Symbols gather round the thing to be explained, understood, interpreted. The act of becoming conscious consists in the concentric grouping of symbols around the object, all circumscribing and describing the unknown from many sides. Each symbol lays bare another essential side of the object to be grasped, points to another facet of meaning. Only the canon of these symbols congregating about the center in question, the coherent symbol group, can lead to an understanding of what the symbols point to and of what they are trying to express. The symbolic story of the beginning, which speaks to us from the mythology of all ages, is the attempt made by man’s childlike, prescientific consciousness to master problems and enigmas which are mostly beyond the grasp of even our developed modern consciousness. If our consciousness, with epistemological resignation, is constrained to regard the question of the beginning as unanswerable and therefore unscientific, it may be right; but the psyche, which can neither be taught nor led astray by the self-criticism of the conscious mind, always poses this question afresh as one that is essential to it.

The question of the beginning is also the question “Whence?” It is the original and fateful question to which cosmology and the creation myths have ever tried to give new and different answers. This original question about the origin of the world is at the same time the question about the origin of man, the origin of consciousness and of the ego; it is the fateful question “Where did I come from?” that faces every human being as soon a he arrives upon the threshold of self-consciousness.

The mythological answers to these questions are symbolical, like all answers that come from the depths of the psyche, the unconscious. The metaphorical nature of the symbol says: this is this, that is that. The statement of identity and the logic of consciousness erected upon it have no value for the psyche and the unconscious. The psyche blends, as does the dream; it spins and weaves together, combining each with each. The symbol is therefore an analogy, more an equivalence than an equation, and therein lies its wealth of meanings, but also its elusiveness. Only the symbol group, compact of partly contradictory analogies, can make something unknown, and beyond the grasp of consciousness, more intelligible and more capable of becoming conscious.

-Erich Neumann
(The Origin and History of Consciousness p.7-8)