Through a Jungian Lens

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Summer Solstice and Midlife

with 6 comments

Image of the masculine in Toronto

It’s summer solstice today and I am writing this at approximately two hours past the peak of the solstice.  I found this image as a representative image for the solstice, an image of the masculine.  As most who follow symbolism are are aware, the sun is symbolic of the masculine where the moon is symbolic of the feminine.    The summer solstice is all about the sun.

Solstice is representative of the midpoint of a man’s life in as much as it represents the midlife of the annual journey of the earth around the sun, the point where man is at his peak, the moment when the sun is in the sky longest in the year. It is the time when a man is the most conscious of the fact of being a man, most feeling the power of being male.

If a man has truly worked at becoming conscious, he comes to a point of crisis as he  realises that the life of spirit, of logos doesn’t fill him.  All that has been believed, all the effort, the struggle now seems to ring hollow.  At this moment, a man “knows” that he has peaked and that it he is now engaged in a journey back to darkness.  If he is lucky, he has a guide to help him descend from the peak.

With a focus on what has been attained in the work of being a man, the fact that reaching the pinnacle of his essence as a male has not resulted in a sense of fullness, but of a paradoxical emptiness, a hollowness, a man is graced with the opportunity to move towards balance, the balance of light and dark, the balance between his masculine aspect and his feminine aspect.

And it is this embarking on a new journey that is to be celebrated at the solstice, the end of the honeymoon and the real work to come, the real work which will give life meaning and purpose.  Those who resist this journey get lost in addictions which promise meaning: sex, power, money, dominance of others.

It doesn’t make sense to the objective world that it is in a descent into a subjective world that one finds purpose and meaning in the outer world.  But who said it has to make sense in a “logos” kind of way?  Too much of one thing leads to burn out, to a searing of the soul.

Though it might seem a time for mourning of one’s ego, a time for anger and resistance; midlife is a blessing if one can only dare to continue a journey of individuation, a journey in which one learns to embrace the feminine, the soul.

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6 Responses

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  1. Fascinating image. Looking at this man I see teh combination of the masculine and feminine. He is overtly masculine – the beard, the strong hirsute arms the carriage all scream ‘male’. And yet within our society relatively few men have long hair – typically seen as ‘feminine’ – woman’s crowning glory etc. He has chosen to allow this ‘feminie’ aspect to be seen.

    Maybe this is one reason I love long hair on fellas!

    Lotus Eater

    June 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    • Yes, the hair was a deliberate choice for this post as well as it a precursor of what is to come 🙂

      rgl

      June 21, 2011 at 7:37 pm

  2. This is one of the appeals of Jungian Psychology, it is mostly about the 2nd half of life and what to do about ‘going into the sunset’

    Urspo

    June 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    • I have to admit that my understanding (as limited as it may be) of Jungian Psychology came with midlife. Before, it was tucked away as knowledge (logos) along with various philosophies and psychologies. Thanks for the comment, Urspo. 🙂

      rgl

      June 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

  3. Some words from Jung about ‘going into the sunset’

    Ageing people should know that their lives are not mounting and expanding, but that an inexorable inner process enforces the contraction of life. For a young person it is almost a sin, or at least a danger, to be too preoccupied with himself: but for the ageing person it is a duty and a necessity to devote serious attention to himself. After having lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to illuminate itself. Instead of doing likewise, many old people prefer to be hypochondriacs, niggards, pedants, applauders of the past or else eternal adolescents—all lamentable substitutes for the illumination of the self, but inevitable consequences of the delusion that the second half of life must be governed by the principles of the first.

    I said just now that we have no schools for forty-year-olds. That is not quite true. Our religions were always such schools in the past, but how many people regard them as such today? How many of us older ones have been brought up in such a school and really prepared for the second half of life, for old age, death and eternity?

    A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning. The significance of the morning undoubtedly lies in the development of the individual, our entrenchment in the outer world, the propagation of our kind, and the care of our children. This is the obvious purpose of nature. But when this purpose has been attained—and more than attained—shall the earning of money, the extension of conquests, and the expansion of life go steadily on beyond the bounds of all reason and sense? Whoever carries over into the afternoon the law of the morning, or the natural aim, must pay for it with damage to his soul, just as surely as a growing youth who tries to carry over his childish egoism into adult life must pay for this mistake with social failure. Money-making, social achievement, family and posterity are nothing but plain nature, not culture. Culture lies outside the purpose of nature. Could by any chance culture be the meaning and purpose of the second half of life?
    C. G. Jung The Stages of Life The entire essay can be read at: http://www.mrrena.com/misc/jung.php

    John Ferric

    June 22, 2011 at 6:59 am

    • Thanks, John, for bringing CG Jung’s words here to illustrate what I was talking about. I have become lazy in my bringing Jung’s words here. As you see, I just talk about how I understand myself and my small window into the world. I truly appreciate the “Extra” work you bring here. 🙂

      rgl

      June 22, 2011 at 9:45 am


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