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NESP Reviews


Complex Archetype Symbol in the Psychology of C.G.Jung
by Jolande Jacobi

Review by Hringari Óðinssen

       "In a sense, the symbol can make even the divine visible...." Creuzer, Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Volker, I.
The most interesting question brought up in this particular volume is the question of the ability, or inability, of the psychic structure of the individual to find access to symbols. Jung is quoted as stating that "far too many individuals are cut off from the figurative language of their psyche, and these are precisely the highly civilized, the intellectuals. They are no longer capable of grasping anything more than the outward facade, the semiotic aspect of a symbol." **
       In Kant's Critique of Judgment, he assigned 'symbol' to mode of intuition, taking the innate base-level existence of symbol interpretation to be an evolute of the a priori state. Jung, however, considers symbol interpretation to be a product of the wholeness of an individual's being, and its interpretation a manifestation of resonance in all our psychic functions at once; thought, feeling, senses and intuition - producing a total reaction.
       Goethe, in his Theory of Colours, expresses this type of meaningful reaction when he compared the colours of red and green, and the universal meaning assigned to them. He asserted that a principle of totality was concealed in the separation and convergence of antithetical colour pairs, thus maintaining that behind all partial symbolism a universal whole was present.
       Jung also alludes to colour when describing the archetype as invisible, "the ultraviolet end of the psychic spectrum..." a latent and yet imperceptible image.
       In his statement, from Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype, Jung admits that "...archetypes are not disseminated only by tradition, language, and migration, but...can re-arise spontaneously, at any time, at any place, and without any outside influence...there are present in every psyche forms which are unconscious but nonetheless active - living dispositions, ideas....that preform and continually influence our thoughts..."
       Here he is, to my mind, simply affirming that the gods are always existent, yet in attempting to use these ideas he grasped so thoroughly and fit them into the 'scientific' and analytical mode of his day, the early atomic age, he could concede these are autonomous elements of the psyche yet not be able to assign them to their rightful status. Does not that perceived separate, primal, autonomous dynamism, each having an individual makeup with its own powers and responses, connote the existence and status belonging to a god?
       Yet he was forced to attribute these components of nature and of man to mere material, biological processes, to inherited psychic patterns of behaviour within humankind as a whole.
       The psychologists following this line of thought current with Jung believed that the archetypes could never be known, that one could only describe the effects that emanate from them, but never pin them. This connotes the mind-set of individuals closed to the living presence of entities independent of the human race, men who have made themselves inaccessible to the gods, "intellectuals".
       Part of this reluctance to use such terminology rests in the predominant idea of the time, Jung's idea that 'gods', as they were known to such minds, are only to be propitiated, that they are demanding and cruel spirits of the sky. He goes so far as to assert that translating the archetype finally into a communicable language is the only way that it can fulfill its "psychic purpose", and once this is done its reason for existence at the outset will be dissolved and another will take its place.
       Jung saw that all these symbols and archetypes pointed toward ultimate confrontation of opposites, which was insightful but did not lead to any resolution regarding allowing these 'symbols' to manifest themselves with any validity. Accepting the idea that these are manifestations of man's consciousness merely, and not owning of independent outside existences, to follow one symbol or archetype alone as suggested would be to create drastic one-sidedness in the psyche, especially when one is not apt to allow for divine intervention in any way. This one-sidedness is fair danger to the soul.
       IMHO - As far as dream interpretation goes, dreams are of varying types. Most are merely reflections of thought-constructs (vikalpas) created during the waking state. These can indeed be useful if we are confused about the reality of our daily life, as Jung says, if we live in the intellect and not in the world. They may indeed represent something we are unwilling to consciously acknowledge, and may be instructive thereof.
       Other dreams are combinational glimpses of past occurrences mixed with emotional response, and if at all useful they are a means of venting waking state repressed response and perhaps frustration, not much more.
       The more rare are predictive. Rarely does a truly predictive dream ever include symbology, though. It will be found, on the other hand, to be a clear forward reflection of reality.
       **Very seldom does a mind of higher intellectual capacity have a purely symbolic dream, for higher intellect has a tendency to direct itself through dream as it does through the waking state. This is also true of the analytical mind during the waking state, sacrificing its connection with its own Source for the sake of the objective-analysis-assimilating characteristic of intellect (buddhi) itself.

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