Through a Jungian Lens

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What Does Darkness Want?

with 5 comments

Again, the sky is providing me with various scenes that capture my attention.  It is so different from yesterday’s photo of a sunset.  Yet, it makes me think that both photos are trying to tell me something, and to be considered “together.”  Of course, the photo had been chosen from a number of recent photos and placed here before I had any thoughts of what to write.  I am learning to trust this process where I suppress ego control and sit back to see what emerges.  After writing these last words, I sat back and thought for a moment about what I was going to write next.  It was at this point that the title for this post came to me from some cloudy place within me.

I have to admit that there is a lot of uncertainty within me, a lot of “dark cloudiness” that is not all about “me.”  The state of the economy, the threats to the environment, the loss of so much, the approaching darkness of a world that appears to be on a fast track to self-destruction – all have a depressing impact on my certainties.  All of this tells me that something is dying.  When I put these last two photos together, the image of the “dying king” comes to mind.  Before I explain what I mean, I want to give Jung a few moments to talk of darkness.

The hidden purpose of the oncoming darkness is generally something so unusual, so unique and unexpected, that as a rule one can find out what it is only by means of dreams and fantasies welling up from the unconscious.  If one focuses attention on the unconscious without rash assumptions or emotional rejection, it often breaks through in a flow of helpful symbolic images.  But not always.  Sometimes it first offers a series of painful realizations of what is wrong with oneself and one’s conscious attitudes.  Then, one must begin the process by swallowing all sorts of bitter truths.”  (Jung, Man and His Symbols, pp 170-171)

I wonder if this also speaks to the collective?  Does the collective also have to go through a process of discovering what is wrong with it, to allow “what is wrong” with itself so that something helpful can emerge from the darkness of the collective unconscious which appears to hold sway over consciousness?

Okay, so what about the “dying king” reference that I made just above?  Well, Jung makes a big deal over the idea of an aging king (consciousness) needing to die so that there can be “renewal.”  This is much the same idea as the “flood” wiping out most of the living world at the time of Noah and his ark in order to renew the human race.  There is also the promise of “Armageddon” to clean out the world in order to prepare it for another age of consciousness.  The old must die in order for the new to emerge.

On a personal level, this begins to make sense of what happened to me with the “shift” at midlife.  I had lived with a lot of certainty in my world before the “shift.”  Yet somehow, doubts began creeping in and I began to “suffer” loss of energy, a loss of belief.  I felt like I was drowning, disappearing into a darkness.  I didn’t know it then, but the unconscious was welling up in order to bring me to a different way of being.  But, in order for a personal renewal to happen, I had to let go of the old “me.”  The old consciousness had to die in order to give birth to a new “me.”

Edward Edinger talks about this:

“Meaning is lost.  In its place, primitive and atavistic elements are reactivated.  Differentiated values disappear and we are replaced by the elemental motivations of power and pleasure, or else the individual is exposed to emptiness and despair.  With the loss of awareness of a transpersonal reality (God), the inner and outer anarchies of competing personal desires take over.”  (Edinger, Jung’s Myth for Modern Man, p. 9).

Powerful words.  It sounds like a perfect portrait of the modern western world.  So what does darkness want?  It wants a return to light and consciousness.


5 Responses

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  1. Again, I must thank you for this post. You ask,”So what does darkness want? It wants a return to light and consciousness.” And I agree 100%, but would go even one step further. I think the darkness wants each individual to help that light to emerge from its depths. The first step in the learning process is to become aware of what we don’t know. The knowledge we have hidden from ourselves.

    In the story of Percival (Pure Fool), the hero must wander for twenty years because he didn’t know the correct answer. Yet, in the original myth it is that same pure fool who comes upon the stricken king and offers him the contents of The Grail, all unwittingly. And the old king, after drinking from the cup, is healed and allowed to pass on, while leaving lightness and life to fill that space. I believe that call from the darkness to be aimed not just at the collective, but also each individual who holds that collective within his/her being. Knowingly or not, we each are that collective.



    July 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

    • Of course you are right that there is an imperative for the individual to do the work of becoming more conscious. That said, there is an immediate need for the collective to also do its part. Tomorrow’s post continues this discussion. I must warn you that tomorrow’s post is rather “dark.” But then again, the cycle of darkness and light is a necessity. Peace to you, and courage to continue this journey.

      Robert G. Longpré

      July 20, 2010 at 10:06 am

  2. Your summary beat me to it – darkness wants to return to light. Apparently it can only do so with transformation through dying. Perhaps the world is evolving towards a new level of consciousness, the so called Age of Aquarius. We have to first ‘die’ which I hope means symbolically rather than concretely.


    July 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    • Everything Jung says indicates that the “dying” is symbolic. History seems to back Jung up. The only indications to the contrary is the story of Noah and his ark which talked about death and destruction, and the story of Revelations which again talk about death and destruction. One sober thought to add here is that of the Mayan calendar which ends December 21, 2012.

      Robert G. Longpré

      July 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      • That version of the Mayan Calendar also started in 3114 B.C.A if I recall properly. Mayan scholars who know better roll their eyes at this, pointing out a) this calendar was replaced/given up a long time ago for a new one and b) the ‘end’ meant exactly what you are talking about here – the death of one era for the dawn of another.


        July 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm

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