Through a Jungian Lens

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The Alchemy of Sunsets

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It’s amazing how I never get tired of taking photographs of sunsets.  Being fortunate enough to own a camera and being able to take sunset photos over the Canadian prairies, over lakes, in India, China, Cuba, Mexico and now Costa Rica, has been one of the greatest gifts that life has bestowed upon me.  I have been to other places but always in too much of a hurry or engaged with too many people in order to take the time needed for sitting quietly with a camera waiting for that special photo – special for me and to me.

Perhaps it is because I was born almost old, with what some would call an old soul.  But, I don’t really think so.  For me it has to do with being able to get outside of my own ego, being able to see beyond myself as the centre of the universe while at the same time knowing that I am a full part of that universe.

Sunsets are about change for me, alchemical change that goes deep into the soul, deep into the roots of being.  The red sun symbolizes the furnace that heats the elements of self, both conscious and unconscious, a furnace that cooks the elements in order to be ready for rebirth with the next rising sun.

As I went jogging this morning, something that I have returned to as long as my body and mind let me continue, I got to see the sunrise over the low mountains on my return to my starting point.  At that moment, I knew that the idea of rebirth was not just a fiction, but a daily reality.

But saying all of that, I do resist change, even fight it out of fear for not knowing what that change will bring to me, what that change will cost me.

It is true that the unknown is always more or less frightening because it threatens the stability of the ego,  Hence we are prone to imagine that the influence of the unconscious (from the shadow and other complexes) is deleterious and ought to be resisted.  This is often so, but not necessarily, for ego-consciousness can get off-track in terms of individuation – who and what a person is meant to be.  It follows, then, thanks to the self-regulating nature of the psyche, that the ego is well advised to attend to the possibilities “voiced” by the unconscious via, for instance, dreams, fantasies and synchronistic events. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked:  Book One, 2008, pp 90-91)

That is it, “possibilities.”  That is what all the work in trying to become more aware of one’s own shadow, one’s unconscious contents is about.  Focusing on dreams, fantasies, active imagination simply to wallow in the shadow hoping that somehow one emerges a guru is fool’s game.  the risk of getting lost is too great.  The work of individuation isn’t supposed to be a threat to the ego, it is supposed to be a gift to the ego in which “self” becomes, bit by bit, better understood and know.  In doing the work, there is just a bit less darkness.

Darkness will always be there just as night must separate the sunset and the dawn.  Daring to meet the darkness allows us to grow, to transform, to re-emerge in each new day, more complete.


2 Responses

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  1. I think some souls genuinely are OLD. This doesn’t mean their possesor behaves like a little old man or woman but they have a surety of being that is beyond mere confidence.
    I’ll reserve judgement until we meet face to face on whether you are one of them….


    January 28, 2010 at 10:42 am

    • Thanks, Viv. I am well on my way to looking old. As for behaving like an old man, not even close, more like a person barely out of their teens. As for the soul, somehow I think that there is little doubt that this is likely.

      Robert G. Longpré

      January 28, 2010 at 7:39 pm

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