Through a Jungian Lens

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Ritual and Individuation

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I found this flower isolated from a field of such flowers which seem to prefer the shade of trees rather than the open fields and direct sunlight. Not too far off, a large number of similar flowers huddled together. They made me think of a community holding together and with this one flower, an outsider or outlier. I had chosen this flower for today’s post early this morning and then got busy with the making of school lessons and then shopping for needed foodstuffs for the week. I knew that this was the photo for today but didn’t know what I would talk about or why I would talk about it. Looking again at this solitary flower, I thought of myself, an outlier or outsider, and I thought about how willingly entering into the process and journey of self-awakening, individuation, leaves one positioned on the outside of a community even though still contained by the community. Then, one of my readers, Urspo asked a question in commenting about yesterday’s post which had community and rituals as the topic. Then, I knew where this photo was taking me – and so I enter into into the idea of ritual and individual for this post, a place and idea that I have not consciously thought about before this moment.  I am excited about seeing where this will take me, not knowing what will emerge when the post is completed and published.

Yesterday, through wandering through the words of King and Heimbrock, I came to understand about how ritual sustains community, in a way defines community; and how community gives rise to the rituals. Doctor Urspo asked about rituals for the individual, rituals other than analysis or therapy which is a ritual in itself. My first thought was to say, of course there are rituals for the individual, that person who dares the journey of individuation. But, where does that come from? And in beginning the search for answers I found that ritual is embedded in the spiritual. Anything that connects ego, self, with the all-encompassing whole that we name as God, as the One, the source of light and life, is a ritual.

I noted that my blogging here is a ritual, a practice I engage in to honour my own journey and to light my path on this journey. In a way, it has become such a part of my life that it causes me discomfort when outer life interferes with this private time, as though these words are like prayers. Rituals in a Jungian sense are repetitions of an action which are meant to transform. To enter into a dialogue with that spiritual centre which Jung called the “Self” is to invite the conscious “self” to change.  Change means something dies so that something new can be born out of that death. For Jung and most Jungians, this is an alchemical process, a process of psychological transformation.

To be alive is to be growing, becoming a better person with “better” being defined by each individual. No one wants to be stuck in one place, spinning one’s wheels so to speak. We pray in order to grow, to become a better person; we study for the same reason; we practice skills in order to perfect imperfect skills. We fear being stuck, not growing as we sense that this would somehow be psychologically fatal for our well-being. So, we do what we can, both consciously and unconsciously to stay alive.

Somehow we know that soul is near that centre, a part of that centre. For ritual to assist an individual, it must reach for the centre, it must honour the soul, the mystery of the unknown and the unknowable. So, what can I do as a practice, as a ritual that would honour and assist the journey of individuation, a journey of wholeness, of holiness?

For me, blogging, daring to step into ideas and paths that lead me out of my comfort zone of what I know. For Jung, the drawing of mandalas played a large role.  For others, sand play or sandwerk or a return to a church or dance or . . . it seems to me that the paths of ritual are endless. Silent meditation is one path that I have used and will continue to use though the form of meditation seems to change. Sometimes that meditation is active such as in gardening or wandering with a camera. Sometimes the meditation is passive as in sitting still with music or incense or simply with one’s quiet centre.

Now, I want to ask you, the reader, what rituals assist you on this journey toward light?


Written by Robert G. Longpré

September 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert,
    Thank you for this Post and the picture of the beautiful flower that has so many stories to tell to me – stories of fantasy – stories that fills me with AWE – that brings me closer to the Creator of this flower, the Greatest Al-Chemist – which also happens to be my Creator.
    With this opening line, I think that I practically answered your question Robert.
    As you changed from mentioning the Collective (community) Ritual into the theme of Individual Ritual – like you wrote “it seems to me that the path of ritual are endless” – to my experiences I only can second you.
    The more, because I am not stuck with a numbered amount of Rituals, but to my experience, the number of my rituals continually seems to grow – I am offered new possibilities so to say.
    So when I consider to address the word Ritual as a “thing” to “honor the Soul” (as you wrote), for me, such a Ritual can expand from one minute to a longer time – all depending on the sort of the Ritual.
    Yes, I also Honor, by drawing Mandalas – but the other day I saw an old lady laboring walking the street with the help of crutches.
    As I always try to look at the eyes of other people, when I looked into the beautiful blue eyes of this old lady – there was no old lady, but a young joyous young girl who loved every minute of her life and more wonderful feelings that I am unable to describe in words.
    It touched my Soul, so I honored my Soul, so I consider this as one of my Rituals, when one is comparing this extraordinary “thing” with the word Ritual of course – or am I wrong ?
    This question shows how mentally limited I am with words to describe Spi-ritual “things”.

    Opa Bear

    September 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    • Ah, wise words showing a good understanding about the human psyche. You are too modest, Opa. Rituals are about spirit – without spirit they become routines and habits. You see well into the eyes and soul of others. Thank you for your kind words.


      September 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm

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