Through a Jungian Lens

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Archive for June 2010

At the Base of Jade Mountain

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At the eastern edge of Chase, British Columbia, the Catholic Church stands at the entrance, at the base of Jade Mountain.  It is an interesting looking church, as churches go.  I took the requisite number of photos as any good tourist would take.  I didn’t really plan on using any of them for this blog site while taking the photos, that is until I entered the church.

There at the back of the church, behind the alter, stood a stained glass window.  What set this window apart from others I have seen, was the placement of the cross.  The four panes of the stained glass window framed the four quadrants.  The top two panes contained crosses with a star cross in the centre of each pane.  The bottom panes again held crosses with a chalice and  at the centre.

All four panes formed a quaternity on their own.  At the centre of each pane, a circle creates a mandala where “four” is again held.   I am reminded of the expression “as above, so below,” an ancient expression associated with alchemy.  The circle in the top panes evoke a sky-like, an airy feel that is suggestive of heaven in which the cross serves as a marker of directions as well as the aspects which are contained such as “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost” . . . and the Mother.  The golden rays of “Sol” are found in the four corners while the pure white light of the moon is found radiating from the centre of the circle.

The circles in the bottom pane are priceless.  At the centre, red.  Red or rubedo, the union of opposites purified, the Holy Marriage, the Alchymical Marriage of soul and spirit.  The top half of the circle is golden in four pieces; the bottom half again has four pieces, this time blue “water.”  At the centre another four pieces – two above the red centre and two below.  Above, the moon receiving the sun, allowing the sun to enter and be held.  Below another two pieces descending into the waters of the unconscious.  And in the whole, balance.

The whole left me breathless.   Even now as I write this I am still breathless.

Digging for Gold in Water

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Another photo of the sun, this time, the sun was caught resting on the surface of this puddle.  As I work more with the gathered images for the SoFoBoMo project, I am more and more surprised at what I find hiding in the images.  The content stays the same, but as I play with “light” I move from ordinary to a different place.  That both ordinary and extra-ordinary co-exist within the same space is an eye-opening discovery.

This image, a puddle, is all about the dark and moist world, an unconscious world.  One often thinks of oneself as drowning in depression, as suffocating with the realisation that a life lived in the first half has lost meaning in the second half of life.  Midlife crisis tumbles one into a panic and darkness where one begins a journey to find the light of meaning.  Most tend to look outside of the darkness, outside of self, for the escape hatch.  Reinvestment in religion, reinvestment in tried and tested activity, grasping at drugs and alcohol, or getting lost in sex – all these and more are simply acts of denial, acts of a person who is terrified of the dark stuff that is threatening to spill out into one’s outer life.

But, as I found out in playing with light, by sticking with the image, there is gold to be found in the darkness.  That is what alchemists of old believed as they searched through working with the darkness, the shadows and the shit floating in the unconscious waters.  If one could only dare to hold with the darkness long enough, acknowledge the truth of all life being light and darkness, evil and good – polarities – then something new appears, something golden, a deepening consciousness and peace with “self.”

Sol as Ego and Self

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I am often amazed at how ordinary things have an extraordinary aspect.  Yesterday morning while out chasing photos of a setting full moon, the sun was also moving with sunrise.  As this image shows, the sun was captured in a reflection on the kitchen window of a neighbour’s home which stood at the edge of the prairie.  And in the instant that I took the photo, what emerged was a transformation of the ordinary house into a numinous place, a holy place.

I guess one could say that I was lucky to get this photo as well as the one used in the last post, within moments of each other.  However, I don’t take it as luck.  I decided to get up earlier than usual to chase photos of Luna in light conditions that would allow a better photograph using my limited camera.  I knew that Sol was also going to be present as Luna was setting.  All that was left to me was to allow the edges of vision to see what I would otherwise miss.  I trusted to the inner “self” to note these things while my “ego” was busy with the hunt for photos for the SoFoBoMo project.  – – – It works, so I (ego) go along for the ride.

“So the sun as the symbol of consciousness represents both the ego and the Self.  The reason for that double representation is that the Self cannot come into conscious, effective existence except through the agency of the ego.  Needless to say it can come into plenty of effective existence without an ego but it can’t come into consciously effective existence without the agency of an ego.  That’s why it is unavoidable that the symbolism of Sol, as the principle of consciousness, represents both the ego and the Self.” (Edinger, The Mysterium Lectures, p. 94)

I have to admit that it is very tempting to accept Edward Edinger’s restatement of CG Jung’s words.  Images such as this do point to the idea of Sol/Sun as God, something so numinous that it can only be seen indirectly.  And, that idea of Sol as God the Father is seated within the self, within me.  However, I know that all that would result is a swelling of my head and the loss of my own identity.  So, how do I deal with the conflicting ideas ?

On one level, the sun as archetype of the ego makes sense.  In my opinion, this is a concept that can be embraced by modern men and women as it doesn’t discriminate between the genders.  However, the idea of sun as Father God is one that makes me feel uncomfortable.  Why have human gender be ranked in hierarchy?  Why have the masculine as superior?  I know that our relatively recent history as humans has embraced patriarchy as a way of being within the collective.  But, human history has also had us embrace matriarchy.  Is one “archy” better than the other?  Somehow, I don’t think so.  Power is still power and both systems focus on “power” over “others.”  Neither matriarchy or patriarchy offer the individual a sense of wholeness.

Jungian psychology, as lived by Jung, is about individuation, a growth of consciousness that is not limited to men.  Individuation demands the integration of opposites “within” the psyche.  And so this is what I turn to as a final resort in trying to resolve the apparent contradictory words.  Obviously, one needs to look beyond the words used to find what can’t be understood directly.  It’s a challenge that is mostly overlooked as one gets caught in the objectivity of the words and the images.

So, I muddle along hoping that I don’t miss something that is in plain sight.

Prairie Moon Setting in the West

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I took this photo earlier this morning just before the moon set, and just after sunrise.  For a brief while, both were in the sky with the sun in the east and the moon in the west.  Already, the moon is losing its clarity which I had witnessed an hour earlier.  I was glad that the position of the moon allowed me to get a prairie scene at the same time.  Photos of the moon high in the sky, though beautiful, don’t give a sense of place.

I have selected about two-thirds of the photos needed for my SoFoBoMo project and have finally decided on format for their presentation.  Rather than longish posts with each photo (in essence, what I do on this blog site), I am selecting quotes for each photo chosen for the project.  Of course CG Jung will be front and centre, but I do expect to use other Jungians as well as quoting myself for a few of the photos, quotes taken from this blog site.

In the past few days I have taken quite a few photos of the moon including about seventy-five this morning.  As I work on the project, I see  larger work hiding in the background, one that seemingly wants to tell a story.  I am not sure what the story is at this point, but I do sense that it will be quite different from how I write here.  It is almost as if there is a task being presented, one in which I am to speak for myself and not rely on CGJ or any other author.  Whatever the task, I don’t imagine it will take away from this blog site which is becoming my “real” voice being sent out into the ether for others.

Sol and Luna: SoFoBoMo 2010

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Well, I’ve finally begun to put the first pages of my SoFoBoMo project into MS Word so that I can save the final project as a PDF.  From the looks of it, I have had to reset the start day back a few days, to June 9th which means that I have until July 9th to complete the project.  This photo is the one I have decided to be on the cover of the book.   I am finally getting excited about the book as well as daunted by it.  Have I chosen a theme beyond my capacity to explore well?  I guess the answer is that it is about exploring the theme, not about being an authority on the theme.  Saying that gives me a sense of relief and so I dare to continue this project into the unknown territory of unconsciousness.

This photo was an attempt to capture the sun through the branches of a tree.  And as at other times, the photo had too much sun flare to be useful as it was.  So, I cropped it and used editing tools to give the photo a surreal look and in the end, that look came closer to the psychological reality of the sun than anything more realistic in an objective sense.

. . . the sun is the father-god from whom all living things draw life; he is the fructifier and creator, the source of energy for our world.  The discord into which the human soul has fallen can be harmoniously resolved through the sun as natural object, which knows no inner conflict.   The sun is not only beneficial, but also destructive . . . ” (Jung, CW Volume 5, par 176)

Again, the polarities are combined into one.  This combining into one is what this whole process and project are all about.  Good and evil together.  God the Father is also the Great Destroyer, or Devil.  I can almost hear the protests and the shouts of blasphemy.  In order to respond to them, I want you to consider exactly what I mean by “God.”

For me, God is all that is and all that isn’t.  This isn’t said to be obtuse, but to simply illustrate that God has no boundaries.  Those who believe in God know him or her as all-knowing and omni-present.  There is no place where God isn’t; there is nothing that exists other than by his or her will.  In a way, the closest I can come to understanding this notion is to accept the fact that even I am part of where God is and what God knows.  No, I don’t claim to be God.  If one can accept that God is all that is and all that isn’t, that “must” include all that is good and all that is evil.  If there is such a place as hell, then God must be there as well as in heaven.  It then stands to my way of thinking, that heaven and hell are simply states of being with hell being a state of unconsciousness and heaven be a state of wholeness or holiness.

So we must press onward to the final stage, the rubedo, which has often been called the ‘Marriage of Luna and Sol’, the fusion of the human and divine, the union of the personality (Luna) with the essential Self (Sol).”  (Jung, CW Volume 12, p. 256)

All of these pieces begin to come together in this photo.  The golden sun and the white moon are fused together to make a holy marriage.  Of course, this can’t be taken literally, but figuratively it works.  If one can make conscious and embrace both the masculine and the feminine aspects of self, one becomes whole, or holy.

Let There Be Lights . . .

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I took this photo yesterday evening, Midsummer’s Eve.  This photo hasn’t been edited other than cropping to fit this blog space.  One can almost see this as a celestial bonfire.  The sun is almost fully hidden behind the clouds as it approaches the horizon that separates day from night.  The sun was setting in the west-north-west quadrant of the sky.

I am adding a second photo which is also unedited other than being cropped for this blog, a photo taken just a few minutes after the photo above.

This scene was found in the east-south-east quadrant of the sky.  The moon is almost full.  The cloud is burnished by the glow of the setting sun.  This moon will reign over the night sky with the setting of the sun.  This is as it should be . . .

Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. (Genesis 1:14)

And God made two great lights; the greater the light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:  he made the stars also. (Genesis 1:16)

And so, I have found the photos that will serve to introduce the Sol / Luna theme of my SoFoBoMo project.

Sol and Luna in Conflict

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While waiting for the full moon to appear, I am taking advantage of any appearance of those moments when the moon is visible.  The full moon is due to appear on the 26th of June, another two days.  In addition to the full moon, a sighting of a partial lunar eclipse is possible here early in the morning.  Of course, all of this is dependent upon the absence of cloud cover.  Just another note looking forward in time; there is a full solar eclipse on July 11th.   Now, if I can get any and all of these photo possibilities, the SoFoBoMo project will have a good range of subject material.  July 13th is the final day of my project.

Today’s photo is “gentle” and “peaceful” for me.  Night hasn’t yet arrived and yet the moon is present.  I was lucky in that I caught a bird in the photo as well as the branches of a tree.  I wanted to have a sense of “earth” as well as the moon.  I had hoped to have a sense of being grounded and looking upward as if searching for inspiration.  I can’t say that I found any inspiration, but I did relax and stop thinking about the task of taking moon photos for the project.  Strange how the project has transformed into a conflict within me, one that doesn’t make the least bit of sense when I think that the project isn’t something that anyone is requiring me to complete, nor is there any reward for its completion.  Obviously, for me, the project isn’t at the centre of this conflict; the project is something onto which I have shifted an inner conflict that has arisen out of the “Sol” / “Luna” archetypes.  Put simply, in my opinion, the conflict is not consciousness versus unconsciousness, but more of a conflict between my shadow and my soul.  Let me explain a bit here.

My shadow, in Jungian terms, is masculine (for a woman, the shadow is feminine); my soul, in Jungian terms, is feminine (for a woman, the soul is masculine).  As I write about the sun, “Sol,” as a masculine archetype, I find that somehow my shadow is creeping into the dialogue and claiming power.  And the sun is about power, isn’t it?  Without the sun there is no life.  The same can’t be said for the moon, “Luna.”  With the moon being the feminine archetype, an archetype loaded with potentially “negative” aspects in comparison to the sun, the moon is devalued and the feminine with it.  And in the process, my soul is devalued.  I can’t have it two ways.  Or, can I?

How can I move from an either/or situation?  Jung does suggest that one can’t resolve the conflict by choosing either of the two polarities.  Somehow, I have to find some other option.  Jung often offers ideas based on ancient alchemical beliefs and processes.  Somehow, alchemically, masculine and feminine must fuse into one.  This is a process that can only be done, psychologically, through becoming more conscious of one’s “self.”

The only problem with the work of becoming more conscious of oneself is that one needs the presence of other to mirror the self.  I can only see myself more fully in becoming aware of how others see and react to me – both men and women.  Men hold the projections of my shadow, women hold the projections of my soul.  Both, together help fill in the blank spaces.  This is no different than the sun being able to only get a sense of self through reflection.  The moon can only get a sense of self because of the light of the sun.  Both are separated by time and space, apparently independent.   Yet, if either were all alone, there would be no consciousness.  Nothing but light or nothing but darkness.  This is a conflict that can only be solved in having the two separate states join together into a marriage of sorts.  And even then, they remain in conflict – a necessary conflict if one is to ever become more conscious of the light and darkness that lies within each of us.