Through a Jungian Lens

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Alchemy and the Transformation of the Personality

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There is obviously some male – female energy in operation here.  This great-tailed grackle is busy courting his smaller lady-love.  Notice how she is pretending not to be tuned into his display of puffed-up ego.  I am getting to see a lot of this type of bird behaviour lately whether it is doves or flycatchers or kiskadees.  The behaviour of birds aside, the photo provides a “human” quality for me.  It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up a scene in which people have been bewitched and find themselves under a spell.  The photo begs the question, “How can we get out of this state and get back home the way we are supposed to be?”  Okay, so I am “projecting” a lot onto this photo.  But, perhaps that is not be unexpected.  Let’s see where it leads . . .

Everything unknown and empty is filled with psychological projection; it is as if the investigator’s own psychic background were mirrored in the darkness.  What he sees in matter, or thinks he can see, is chiefly the data of his own unconsciousness which he is projecting into it.  In other words, he encounters in matter, as apparently belonging to it, certain qualities and potential meanings of whose psychic nature he is entirely unconscious.  This is particularly true of classical alchemy, where empirical science and mystical philosophy were more or less undifferentiated. (Jung, CW 12, par 332)

Alchemy is thus not really about changing lead into gold, but more about moving from the darkness of the unknown to consciousness.  Loosely translated, one changes their personality by facing the shadows and complexes that roam the dark inner spaces.

In the darkness of anything external to me I find, without recognizing it as such, an interior or psychic life that is my own. (ibid, par 346)

So, that takes me back to the photo and what I have projected on it, on the birds in the photo.  So, what is this saying about me?  What message is my shadow trying to bring to my awareness?  Is this about relationship to my partner?  Or, is it about my courting a relationship with yet another face of anima that is hidden within?  Somehow, I know that is not about another person, that is fully about what is happening within me.  The blackness of the bird tells me even more information, that this is indeed about shadow.  I will talk more about alchemy in my next post or two.  Right now, I have enough to chew on, to think about.


2 Responses

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  1. Fascinating reading, Robert. I have just purchased 3 books that I am looking forward to reading: Romancing The Shadow by Connie Zweig, We by Robert A. Johnson (I read “He” and found it very interesting, and Owning Your Own Shadow, also by Robert A. Johnson.

    I, too, am fascinated by my own shadow and have seen it slip, much to my chagrin, and present itself to the world by the things that I say or do.

    Paul L.

    February 10, 2010 at 9:03 am

    • I’ve got two of these books and have read them. That said, it has been a few years since then. I am glad that you are finding something worthwhile here.

      Robert G. Longpré

      February 10, 2010 at 9:57 am

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