Through a Jungian Lens

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Setan and Chaos

with 9 comments

As I was wandering through China Dinosaur Park here in Changzhou on Halloween, I saw these three gigantic figures carved into the side of a desert hillside (all artificial of course), a scene which evoked the world of the gods and goddesses of Egyptian history.  My first impression was that these were all representations of “Set,” the God of Chaos (also known as Seth and Setan -> Satan?).  Symbolism, symbols – it is all about the need for symbols in our life for meaning to emerge.  Without symbols to point towards something “more,” we are left in chaos.

Maybe the need for symbols is what has driven me in my pursuit of images with my collection of cameras.  I would like to say that I am a photographer, but I am not.  I simply use the camera and have no interest or energy to “study” the art of photography as an art.  I just want to use the camera to capture images that appear to me as symbols.  Otherwise, the camera is just a recording tool that documents places visited and the life of my family.  Symbols, images and the numinous allow me to trace a thin path through chaos into a sense of meaningfulness.

To Jung the loss of the symbolic sense was a catastrophe for both individual and society.  It meant that the healing and religious disciplines of his time, themselves cut off from their own deepest resources, blocked their practitioners and devotees from them also.  The consequences appeared, on an individual level, in the widespread occurrence and experience of meaninglessness, depression and neurosis, and socially in the outbreak of new epidemics of faith (often in political form) as the unconscious offered demonic configurations of mass-mindedness to fill the gaps left by the demise of the traditional religions.”  (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, pp 15-16)

I see what Jung saw in my own backyard.  Quiet Saskatchewan is now a hotbed of black and white fundamentalism, new versions of something that is supposed to be Christianity are appearing at the same time as others are retreating to rules and forms of religion of the past.  All proclaim their “truths” that have been pared to a plain and stark set of words, a belief system that lacks the numinous.  Religions are angry and seeking economic and political power, especially the new iterations of old religions.  Under the appearance of strident purpose, chaos is rampant.

I see and hear this and I know that the only way through this is an individual path.  As much as I would like to lead or follow a surge of others who would heal the human soul and the collective spirit, I know that all I can do is to find meaning as a unit of one.  And in doing so, I must carefully watch out of the side of my eye for Set and his threat of chaos.

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9 Responses

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  1. I am very curious about the title of this post.

    365days

    November 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

    • Consider the problem fixed 🙂 I guess, Setan has his hand in this.

      Robert G. Longpré

      November 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm

  2. I liked your last paragraph very much; alas, would more do as you do !

    Urspo

    November 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    • I wish I could do more of this without “falling” into chaos myself, so often 😉

      Robert G. Longpré

      November 5, 2010 at 5:15 pm

  3. Thank you Robert for this absolute accompanying picture in the meaning of this Post.
    (I have to translate from Dutch…), but by explaining the Symbol, Jung made the following remark :
    “ Only by the Symbol the conscious can be reached and expressed – therefore individuation can not be accomplished without the Symbol.
    On one side the Symbol is the primitive expression of the unconscious – on the other side it is the idea, which answers to the deepest conjecture of the conscious” – end of quote.

    Jung could probably not dream of all the technical resources that are offered to us today and in the future – but all these “blessings” of technical resources are coming from our over activated Mental side and as in the book of Dourley is written, that’s why we are “cutoff from their own deepest resources”.
    So, the warning/vision of Jung about the Spiritual growth or better, the lack of growth proves to be valid and actual – even more today than when Jung was alive I believe.
    For some people this can be a sort of doom scenario – for others, like myself, I second you Robert and quote your words : “…I know that all I can do is to find meaning (into a sense of meaningfulness) as a unit of one.
    And in doing so, I must carefully watch out of the side of my eye for Set and his threat of chaos “ – end of quote

    Opa Bear

    November 5, 2010 at 9:01 pm

  4. Great read!

    Dustin

    November 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

  5. Thank you, this post really caught my eye yesterday, and I wondered on “all I can do is to find meaning as a unit of one”. I very much relate to the sense of needing to find an individual path, yet I also find it very much connected with relationship, interrelationship and the “vessel like” nature we can sometimes experience ourselves as. Then I saw your post on the lotus today – lovely.

    As an aside – a rune reader I used to know used to always say when the trickster Loki turned up in a reading that there was a “control freak” about. It’s funny how chaos and control freaks go together, I hadn’t thought of it before then.

    credencedawg

    November 6, 2010 at 6:05 pm

  6. Thank you for this thought-provoking and insightful post.

    Oscar Del Santo

    November 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

  7. As always I enjoy the flow and cadence of your words as much as I enjoy your thoughts on this concept of self-discovery.
    If I was religious this would probably be an appropriate time to say Amen. Or should that be Amun 😉

    Thanks.

    Cedric

    November 7, 2010 at 6:53 am


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