Through a Jungian Lens

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Capping the Volcano – Recalling the Gods to the Psyche

with 66 comments

This is a shot of the Arenal Volcano that I took during the second trip to the volcano.  You can see puffs of gray on the left-hand side which seem to be skipping down the volcano.  When the light faded, these bouncing boulders glowed red.  One can only imagine the power within the earth that gives rise to volcanoes and the power that lets them expel boulders the size of homes and vehicles as if they were bits of feather. I chose this photo for today’s post because of the title Dourley gives to the next section of his essay, Capping the Volcano.  It was interesting for me to watch this volcano as darkness began to settle in.  It wasn’t long before the top of the volcano disappeared under the cloak of clouds.  Clouds don’t make a good cap for a volcano.

“Jung’s understanding of the psyche rests on a conception of containment which tolerates no invasion of the psyche by agencies beyond the psyche. Such containment eliminates all commerce between an allegedly self-sufficient supernatural world of divine beings and the natural world of psyche. Theologically such containment means that the psyche creates all the divinities as well as all personal and collective faiths in them. For Jung this now-dawning consciousness marks the culmination of a millennial evolution of religious maturation (Jung, 1954, p. 402), one which carries with it a moral imperative. This imperative demands that responsible religion recall the Gods to their psychic origin, where dialogue with them would continue on an individual basis (Jung, 1940, p. 85). This dialogue would be at once socially safer and personally more harrowing. It would be socially safer because it would undermine the conflict between religious communities who claim a universal truth for one or other of their competing, still-transcendent Gods. The dialogue would be more harrowing because it would face the individual with an inner critique more personal, rigorous, and defiant of evasion than any religion can muster. Internalizing the conversation with deity would also, in Jung’s words, terminate “the systematic blindness…that God is outside man” (Jung, 1940, p. 58, italics Jung’s). It would force humanity to confront its Gods and its faiths in them within the confines of the psyche from which they first are born.” (Dourley, “Jung and the Recall of the Gods”, Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2006, pp 45-46)

It makes sense to me.  As a human, I am made small, even irrelevant for the most part, with the existence of gods outside of me, gods who separate from me, gods of whom I must be afraid – very afraid, gods who are ready to consign me to all manner of torture and punishments should I fail to be a perfect being.  If I hold to a god or gods outside of my “self,” then I have a real problem with the presences I find within my “self.”  If God is without, then what is within must be the opposite.  And so we teach ourselves with notions such as original sin and stories such as Noah, and Lot and Job.  No, I’d rather have the gods within making me shine with the touch of that godliness.

Looking into the outer world, I fail to grasp how so many religions that are based on good stuff have fallen so far from their roots and have become armed camps that only see red when in the face of other religions.  Age-old conflicts of one “ism” versus another “ism” are made even worse when within the container of one such religion there are splinters which then fall out with each other.  Putting the gods “out there” has caused us no end of grief as a human species.  It is time to bring the gods back home, back to their birthplace “within” the human psyche.

No, it doesn’t mean that I claim to be god.  It does claim that I am touched by god within, a god that is not able to be defined, contained, or even named.  The best that I can do is to suggest that all that is and all that isn’t; all that is dark and all that is light and all that is neither; all of this hints to such a presence..  And, that presence is found within.  And it is only through our personal human consciousness that whatever the god or gods might be, that these gods can be known, intuited, felt, sensed.


66 Responses

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  1. I think our smallness and irrelevance is an important part of understanding our search. It makes us see that there more to life than just our view or our focus. With the acceptance of that immensity, then we can begin the search to find our part in this complex universe. When we recognise that we are only a tiny part, then we can be open to the spirit that flows through us, through everything else and we can acknowledge that we share the same atoms. When we search not for our place or our contribution or our growth, but to control, use or become bigger by calling on the external gods, then we are searching for power not place.

    The fear of smallness and irrelevance is related, I think, to the fear of no power, no control.


    March 19, 2010 at 7:38 am

    • I guess that it is the idea of the external gods that catches me up, here, Deborah. The gods are within. If anything when we dive under the surface of self we get entangled with our personal unconscious. When we begin to recognize the cast of characters (complexes) within this level, then we note that there is a deeper level yet, one that seems unlimited, one that embraces all the darkness as well as all the light. Are we small in all of this? Yes, but that smallness is a worthy smallness that is linked and integral to the whole.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm

      • I agree. We are only small when we look at the small part of us.


        March 21, 2010 at 12:41 pm

  2. you’ve captured the awe and mystery of these so well


    March 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

  3. This reminds me of a conversation many years ago with a Greek orthodox priest whose English was not terribly fluent and tried to explain the mystery at the heart of mass, that in taking the body and the blood we become, he said, in a sense, “Small Gods”. Perhaps it is a realisation of what is pre-existing that can come out of ritual.
    Food for thought.


    March 19, 2010 at 10:32 am

    • Hi Viv, I have a quote and idea from a book that I have recently read that looks at the body and blood from a different perspective. Thanks for the comment and thoughts.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 19, 2010 at 12:34 pm

  4. I take photos and sometimes mention Jung, but never thought to put the two directly together. A bit of blogging brilliance…

    The Necromancer

    March 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

    • Thanks for the positive comments, Necromancer. I just visited your site – ah-ha, another Canadian and historian in the crowd. Why the mixture of both? Well, I write about things Jungian, or should I say about the human psyche as I understand it, and I take photos. As a teacher I found that visuals often helped with comprehension (multiple intelligences theory). Combining them also reduces the need for two blogs, one for photography and one for musing. I’m hoping to hear again from you.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 19, 2010 at 12:38 pm

  5. I enjoyed reading this. I’ve never considered my relationship to God from a Jungian perspective. My experience in my relationship with God has been a connection of psyche and heart, much as one experiences in developing friendship. Not sure what Jung would say about that…..

    It is, at the very core, a personal thing to be sure. Thanks for serving this up as food for thought.


    March 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    • Hi Diane. I hope you continue to listen in as I examine these ideas of spirituality over the next while. A visit to your site was well worth my time. Thanks.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      • Thanks! I relish the comment. I get very few. While I’ve enjoyed some self education in psychology in attempts to prevail over certain traumas (attempting also to understand those who were part of them) I’ve never discussed psychological concepts and schools of thought with anyone in any depth. Most people glaze over after a few sentences. Even though I’m out of my depth here I find it exhilarating. Hopefully I’ll refrain from saying anything accidentally stupid.;-)


        March 20, 2010 at 4:37 pm

      • In my opinion, the only “stupid” comment is that which is denied a voice when it is begging for that voice. Keep on being here and saying what needs to be said.

        Robert G. Longpré

        March 21, 2010 at 6:45 am

  6. As the human psyche evolved in dialogue with the external world, it would seem to be a bit hasty to simply swap external gods for internal like a toggle switch.

    For a psychological archetype to have any selective value as a tool for engaging the environment, it would have to model (accurately enough to provide a competitive advantage) some ontological archetype.

    Unlike bureaucracy, evolution doesn’t concoct “busy work” just to have something to do. If there’s a pattern in our heads, it’s because there was a pattern in our environment, independent of our existence, to which we had to adapt.


    March 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    • Hi Nelson. There is no question that there has been and continues to be a conversation with the external world. However, the roots of spiritualism derives from consciousness, not from an external and omnipotent being. I am going to look forward to more and more from you.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 19, 2010 at 12:33 pm

      • I’m really jumping into the middle here in the few minutes I have to check email on the way out the door. This conversation is intriguing so I naturally couldn’t resist a comment! If this is redundant, please forgive. I’ve not read through all responses. No time right now.
        I hear, in this small piece of the conversation, an either/or proposition. Wouldn’t it actually be more of a both/and context in which we experience God? Both because of His objective existence apart from us as well as our subjective inward awareness?


        March 20, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      • Is there an objective existence? I guess this is a critical idea. An objective existence suggests defined boundaries. When it comes to something so ephemeral like a divinity, there is not much room for boundaries.

        Robert G. Longpré

        March 21, 2010 at 6:41 am

  7. Many of us are blinded by a perspective of God induced through Christian religions.
    To get a cleared picture, we need to drop the imposed image leading us astray.
    The Primal Energy of the Universe, cannot be spoken or understood in every day terms. It can be felt only, by an intuition,… uncommunicable, sought through the length or our lives by those who have wandered, alone, in quiet places, often at night in the darness of woods, or on mountains in the ivory of the moon.

    Colin L Beadon

    March 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    • yet somehow we must discover language with which to communicate. I was wondering what insights you might have. I get frustrated with labels and language that divides rather than helps us share common ground and grow together. Thoughts?


      March 20, 2010 at 4:21 pm

      • I get frustrated as well with language. That is why the images are also used and why myths are heard and why dreams are given a voice here on my blog site. Any “insights” that I may have are really echoes of these and all the ripples that come with their presence.

        Robert G. Longpré

        March 21, 2010 at 6:42 am

    • Colin, what you are referring to here is called the “numinous.” The historical perspectives of god are actually helpful, especially when one looks beyond just one such perspective. The combined attempts do offer strong hints. Read the books by Joseph Campbell that look at the gods of various cultures as well as the book A Hero of a Thousand Faces. Thanks.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:32 am

  8. If you want see the best volcanoes on earth, visit Indonesia. I guarantee you will get nice view. Next may 13-16 I plan to hike Semeru (the highest in Java island) if you might be interested, let me know.


    March 19, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    • I would love to see the volcanoes in Indonesia. Someday my journey might lead me there. Thanks for your visit and comment.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:33 am

  9. volcanos are just so interesting! I remember we studied them in class and made the fake ones…


    March 20, 2010 at 7:38 am

    • Hi Lakia. Yes, they are interesting and they do serve well to have one look deeper within oneself to see what is being held in check.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:34 am

  10. Great post. I was attracted by the photo of the volcano, which is awesome!! I ejoyed wht you wrte and epecially what you say here ‘Looking into the outer world, I fail to grasp how so many religions that are based on good stuff have fallen so far from their roots and have become armed camps that only see red when in the face of other religions’. That is a really good point and something that continues to bother me a lot about religion. Assuming we are all created by ‘God’, then surely we are all equal in his eyes? No matter what each particular religion may call the Almighty.
    Thanks for a thought provoking article.

    Cindy (notjustagranny)

    March 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

    • Cindy, you make a great point. In my view, religion is the system by which we interpret God. I am more into the relationship rather than the religion. I wonder what it would be like if we, as a people, shared stories of our relationship with our God…as we might share stories about our families, etc. It’s a dream, anyway… Your thoughts?


      March 20, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    • Thanks for your comment, Cindy. I hope that you continue to find the posts thought-provoking.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:35 am

  11. Indeed.
    Whether or not there is a God seems to be a moot issue in the span between seconds, days, years, wherein Christian or not, people make decisions on how to live a life. Beating children over the head with fear of a goblin that will reach out to eat them if they don’t rise to expectations is much less creative than finding out what makes them tick. What is the why behind the what it is they do?
    Until the age of nineteen, I was part of a religious group that believed itself to have a monopoly on god’s will, and therefore, somewhat of a monopoly on the passage to heaven. This upbringing was the source of much confusion to me, but I would not change a thing. After living on the edge of hell for nineteen years, my life is magically anticlimactic. (I would like a job in which my life is in danger every day to compensate for the loss.)
    I too, have a fascination for Geology, “The Gods,” and am recently enamored with Carl Sagan’s (or did he steal it from someone else?) idea of the amniotic universe as an explanation for our need for propitiation.
    I’m so glad I found this blog. I will continue to read, as long as you continue to inspire.


    March 20, 2010 at 10:59 am

    • Hi 365Days. Thanks for your comment. I write my blog as a way to search for resonance and to map out my journey. If doing this inspires in any way, that is good. If it doesn’t, that is also good. As long as one honour’s one’s singular journey toward individuation, then it is enough. I do look forward to more comments from you in the future.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:38 am

      • I realize my comment sounded self-centered. This place is yours and belongs to you. I suppose I am reaching out toward what sounds centered, and relavent to me, but of course you must remain always on your own path. Forgive me if I thrust my own purpose upon you. I’m sure you can tell my age and the fact that you have more experience than I. Nevertheless, truth is revealed to those open to it, and peace to those who accept it. I’m just not there yet.

      • This place is created by me, but in a way since it is put out here, it belongs as much to you and the others who read here as it does to me. I hear the differing voices with different needs and sense that each takes what he or she can and then continue on their way. I will continue to build this place as I wander through my days in hopes that it also helps me. When it comes to truth, it keeps changing and keeps shifting. The days of clear thinking where white was right and black was wrong are gone and I find myself in a shimmery kaleidescope of colours and hues. Keep on reading and contributing, I appreciate it.

        Robert G. Longpré

        March 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm

  12. You are God – this is a cracking article.

    The trouble with Jung is that he is often read and so little understood – clearly not with you.

    Glad to have found you.


    March 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    • I am interested in what you have to say, especially since you must have some understanding of Jung and his ideas. Thanks for posting a comment. I hope you return with more to say. I see you have begun a poetry blog site.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    • Just a comment regarding your “You are God” statement. Actually, I am not God as that would be setting limits. Whatever, whoever god might be, it would be boundaryless, timeless, faceless, inclusive of all that existed, exists and has yet to exist. The First Nations people have it right when the speak of the spirit in nature, in rocks (all apparent inanimate forms) and in all life forms. Quantum physics now points to purposeful relationship and volition even between particles of what we consider “things.”

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:26 am

      • Hi Robert, I agree with you on the faceless, boundariless and timeless part but if this is the case saying you are not God is also setting limits.

        God is. You are. With no boundary between.

        First Nations and Quantum Theory point to this undivided quality. I love how you bring them together.


        March 21, 2010 at 8:32 am

      • Of course you are right as long as I am not the definition of god, but simply one of the endless faces of god as is everyone here and not here in this discussion.

        Robert G. Longpré

        March 21, 2010 at 9:06 am

      • 🙂


        March 21, 2010 at 9:26 am

      • This reminds me so much of something I wrote recently. That if I was (were?) God I would be untouchable….

        And for me, I think that deep pain is the wish to be God, to be untouchable by pain and sadness, but if we did not know pain, we would not know relish, joy, thrill.

        Please don’t think you have to reply to everything. I know I am kind of rambling in places, but these comments, this whole topic is like reading a really interesting book, with authors that come alive. And this blog, with its pictures, probes, feels safe, like a place to hang my questions up and see them from all sides. Please tell me if I am talking too much. Wow. All I can say is wow.

      • “… this blog, with its pictures, probes, feels safe, like a place to hang my questions up and see them from all sides. Please tell me if I am talking too much. Wow. All I can say is wow.”

        This is my hope, to ensure that this is a safe place, a place of “temenos.”

        Robert G. Longpré

        March 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

  13. hmm…food for thought…


    March 20, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    • Food for the soul, for the mind and the heart.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:38 am

  14. Talking of the God without and the God within – I am reminded of a quote from Martin Buber in ‘I and Thou’: Inner things and outer things, what are they but things and things!”

    When we talk of an external God, we are talking of a concept of a God whereas the “inner God” or inner experience of a God described in many of the comments above seems to be describing a deep and personal connection to the Divine.

    In the latter there really is no inner and outer. You see the concepts of God swimming in the sea of your own exquisite Oneness. I am tempted to add:

    “Inner God and outer God – what is there but God and God!”


    March 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    • Well put. All that is and all that isn’t. All that existed, exists and has yet to exist.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:44 am

  15. I’m afraid of volcanoes but love them to DEATH! uh…not death…lava scares me.

    Rocket Dog (Ergo Proxy)

    March 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    • Glad that you have stopped by to look at the volcano photo. I hope you again come back for more.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:48 am

  16. Ha, the only problem with ‘man’ turning to himself for god ( in the eyes of the church or the indoctrination system that is the church and mass mind control) it would create a much deeper human being, and force us to grow to be wiser and self full filled through our own understanding that
    1. there is no god, simply the god in us, the force of life
    2. This existence in life is what is important, not ‘heaven’.

    But I am obviously wayyyyyyyyyyy……… over my head with this group. 🙂

    You’ve got some heavy thoughts that cause me to pause.

    I look forward to further reading.

    – Doc


    March 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    • Hi Doc. “Way over your head?” I doubt it. There isn’t really anything here that is hierarchical in terms of IQ. The words and photos are about me and my journey and are spilt out here in order to see the ripples – your ripples are VERY valuable for me as are all the other ripples. For, it is in the ripples that I get to hear more about the shadows, complexes and projections that I have laid bare. I look forward to your further contributions.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:51 am

  17. Diana,
    Perhaps the language of communication, is a smile, and silence, and the touch of fingers, and looking out into the Cosmic depth of the Universe when smog, and the dreadful glare of man-imposed light, permits.
    How else could one find, or comprehend, the silence of Absolute Infinity, except, beside the trickle and murmur of a woodland stream ?

    Colin L Beadon

    March 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm

  18. There a great books on science that can take you much closer to your quest. Paul Davies, the Mind of God, and Bill Bryson, A short history of nearly everything, are just two.
    Reading such books opens your eyes and mind, to the deeply divine aspects of the whole Earth and Universe, so that you can never be the same again, once you add your own perceptions, your mind cleared of the restictions,…. of dogmatic vision.

    Colin L Beadon

    March 20, 2010 at 6:12 pm

  19. what is the boundary that defines what is considered out and what is considered in?


    March 21, 2010 at 1:01 am

  20. Robert,

    Thank yoy. Your post and this thread are very interesting.


    finding my way

    March 21, 2010 at 6:36 am

    • Thanks FMW. I would enjoy hearing more from you as well. Somehow I thing that your words would only add to the interest.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 6:55 am

  21. I agree with your opinion. This is the first forum for conversation like this (my experience is limited) where I feel safe to share in the conversation. Thank you for setting that tone and example.


    March 21, 2010 at 8:16 am

    • Dianne, I have had a lot of experience with discussion forums, especially Jungian Psychology based forums. For eight years I was the list-owner and moderator of a group called JUNG-L which grew to have a membership of over 300 with a good percentage taking part in the ongoing dialogues. This is part of my background, a part that I hope allows me to interact in a facilitative manner. Thanks.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 21, 2010 at 9:04 am

  22. Thank you for your poetry and thought provoking posts..
    Here are my thoughts about God.A Small Quiet God
    Pressing firmly against the screen door,
    The tiny metal squares imprinting their rigidity on my nose,
    I watch the summer sky change from an uneasy grey
    To the purple blackness of an impending storm.
    God send the thunderbolts, the thunder as punishment for your sins
    My mother’s words reverberate even now.
    I imagined my feet fried on the melted linoleum,
    My hair a crown of flames.
    I felt the terror of my frailty crashing
    Against the titillating power that I,
    A girl-child could evoke such wrath from your God.
    Now as the storms of summer approach yet again
    I, a fully-grown woman
    With hips and breasts and a crown singed by sorrows
    Prefer to live with the small quiet God within me.
    copyright Lu Pierro 2009


    March 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

  23. Robert.G. Longpre,
    Just found your first reply to me. My first reading at age 17 when I was a young seaman, was the Golden Bough, and many such books, including the Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, have been my constant companions. Joseph Campbells’ Power of Myth, has been my bedside companion, and I refer back to his Hero with a thousand faces regulary. Chopra, and his ‘How to know God’, Williams James’ The Varieties of Religous Experience’, and Happolds book along simular lines, and on, and on.
    But then great books on science, like ‘Paul Davies ‘ The Mind of God’ have all helped me greatly. Science really opens ones eyes to the absolute wonder of the Universe. I have come across aspects of science that make me no longer need mere Faith, as though science in itself, pondered, blended with worldly experience and wide open eyes, leaves you no room for doubt.
    All through my English public school days, I was a choir boy. I think the inexplainable beauty of choir voices in a chapel or cathedral, can bring us closer to what we seek, than almost nothing else. If the music is in Latin or another language you don’t understand well, or not at all, so much the better.
    Hope this is not too long a script.

    Colin L Beadon

    March 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm

  24. Volcano is also very beautiful!


    March 22, 2010 at 1:28 am

  25. Hi there,
    Perhaps Jung would have called it Synchronicity and the collective surfacing of connected unconscious tendencies, but by pure chance friend, I have clicked on your blog as a random article generated by WordPress.

    I am a huge fan of Jung, and my own thoughts and writings have been deeply influenced by his work. I find it even stranger though, that having just finished writing my latest sentiments to see them echoed here in a beautiful analogy by someone else so inspired by Jung and his approach.

    I will be looking more deeply into who you are and what you have to say – but if you enjoy Jungian perspective you might enjoy my writing too, new friend. (Link supplied.)

    In the past I’ve written that the size of humans – is directly correlated to how we percieve the world, including time and space, and why ism’s become so all-important due to the ego being neatly seated in the skull, rather than dwelling outside of it in the collective numinous pools of potential being in which we can simultaneously manifest when not restricted; which restriction is lifted when we take a life-centred perspective that places us in a more appropriate context in comparison to the majestic awe of nature than we are apt to do with a self-centred one. I hope you will visit – we may have much in common 🙂


    March 22, 2010 at 3:52 am

  26. Reply to Dusty.

    How can an open mind be confined by boundary ?

    Colin L Beadon

    March 22, 2010 at 6:45 am

  27. Why are postings not in the order of their time and dates ?

    Colin L Beadon

    March 22, 2010 at 6:54 am

    • Hi Colin. Something tells me that you have bookmarked the page “Capping the Volcano” rather than the address of the blog site home page “” If you log into the “home” page all the posts will be in order from most recent to oldest. I hope this helps.

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

  28. While I have had little time to read at wordpress, or even blog, reading the comments that come to my email inbox has been a great experience. I’m so touched by these most recent ones as they resonate so profoundly.

    I showed the site to my husband. He’s been listening to the Great Lectures series and finds this Jungian based conversation intriguing. So we took time Sunday to go to the book store and purchased a few books on Jung. We have “The Undiscovered Self”, “Man and His Symbols”, “Modern Man in Search of a Soul” and one on synchronicity.

    I love the quote of this reader, “…this blog….feels safe, like a place to hang my questions up and see them from all sides.” Most excellent!

    Diane Spencer

    March 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm

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