Some Leading Archetypes
It is not difficult for the modern intellectual to concede that the symbolism of mythology has a psychological significance. Particularly after the work of the psychoanalysts, there can be little doubt, either that myths are of the nature of dream, or that dreams are symptomatic of the dynamics of the psyche. Sigmund Freud, Carl G. Jung, Wilhelm Stekel, Otto Rank, Karl Abraham, Géza Róheim, and many others have within the past few decades developed a vastly documented modern lore of dream and myth interpretation; and though the doctors differ among themselves, they are united into one great modern movement by a considerable body of common principles. With their discovery that the patterns and logic of fairy tale and myth correspond to those of dream, the long discredited chimeras of archaic man have returned dramatically to the foreground of modern consciousness.
— Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1973), p. 255.
Becoming an Individual
Adam & Eve
Guru & Disciple
Castor & Pollux
What is an Archetype?
Let me first briefly explain what an archetype is.
An archetype is a generic pattern or mold which exhibits certain character traits, and that typically is marked by a touch of authenticity, and that also carries a subtle energy. In modern psychology, an archetype is a bundle of elements that decisively mark a fictive character, a person, or personality, or a certain behavior.
The study of archetypes within our collective unconscious is largely the result of the pioneering work of the Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung. At his lifetime, Jung was one of the few enlightened spirits who suggested the existence of the so-called Akashic Records not as a museum piece of mythology, but as a real universal memory matrix of all of human experience, and he was teaching that the archetypes are an intrinsic part of that subtle universal memory surface. Jung professed that archetypes are basic to both mythology and the individual human psyche.
The origins date back as far as Plato. Jung compared archetypes to the eîdos, the well-known Platonic notion of ‘ideas.’ Plato’s ideas are to be seen as primordial mental forms, imprinted in the soul before it incarnates for a human life.
Within Jung’s psychological framework archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations of the human psyche; for example, a group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex, a mother complex or father complex, which is an association with the mother or father archetype.
Jung outlined five main archetypes, the Self as the regulating center of the psyche and facilitator of individuation, the Shadow, the opposite of the ego image, often containing qualities that the ego denies but possesses nonetheless, the Anima, the feminine part in a man’s psyche, the Animus, the masculine image in a woman’s psyche, and the Persona, which represents how we display ourselves to the world, also called social mask.
— See: Carl-Gustav Jung, Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, in: The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung (1959), 358–407, The Psychology of the Child Archetype, in: Essays on a Science of Mythology (1993), pp. 70–98, as well as Sally Nichols, Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey (1986).
Although the number of archetypes is limitless, there are particularly notable, recurring archetypal images such as: The Eternal Child, The Hero, The Great Mother, The Wise (Hermit), The Trickster (Fool) — to mention only these.
The Five Primary Archetypes
I am now going to elucidate each of these archetypes a little more in detail.
To begin negatively, I do not share the general disdain of Buddhism for the Self as a concept that isolates and suffocates human creativity in an ego-bound shell.
— Wikipedia notes that despite the fact that the Buddha argued there is no permanent unchanging ‘self’ to be found, some Buddhist schools, sutras and tantras present the notion of an atman (/ˈɑːtmən/) or permanent Self, although mostly referring to an Absolute and not to a personal self.
In Jungian psychology, however, the self is the archetype symbolizing the totality of the personality. It represents the striving for unity, wholeness, and integration. As such, it embraces not only the conscious but also the unconscious.
There is little hope of our ever being able to reach even approximate consciousness of the self, since however much we may make conscious there will always exist an indeterminate and indeterminable amount of unconscious material which belongs to the totality of the self.
— C.G. Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (1953/1972).
Jung said the self is our life’s goal, ‘for it is the completest expression of that fateful combination we call individuality.’ (Id.)
And it’s important to see the difference between self and ego. The self comprises infinitely more than the ego. Jung put it in the formula that individuation does not shut one out from the world, but gathers the world to oneself. Thus, Jung’s concept of self comes close to the Hindu notion of atman that, interestingly enough, is often translated as ‘self.’
In Ancient Egypt, this was expressed as the concept of the Ba-soul; the Greeks called it man’s inner daimon; and the Romans worshiped it as man’s Genius, which was native to each individual. In more primitive societies it was frequently envisioned as a protective spirit embodied within an animal or fetish.
The Romans believed that the genius was the divine force that survived after the person passed over. It was a living entity that passed from one generation to another through the head of the household. This genius spirit of the father was personified in art, which linked him with the ancestral spirit.
Eric Berne, when creating Transactional Analysis (TA) in the 1950s, was not coming up with a novelty but with a scheme that mapped insights that the more wistful part of humanity had fostered since Antiquity and that are part of all native cultures. As such, Eric Berne did a very important integrative work that has served healing and understanding of psychic processes, but that until this day never found its way to the population at large.
But this ignorance is not a lack of insight or learning, but the result of systematic manipulation and suppression of intuitive knowledge through the school system in all dominator cultures.
Inner Selves are energies in our psyche that form part of our total and integral wholeness. In the ideal case, they should be balanced and in harmony with each other. This means that all inner selves should work as a sort of inner team. It is essential that all members of this inner team are fully awake and communicate with each other. In most people’s psyche, however, it is as with this mystic painting that depicts the inner child as a little angel who is somnolent or asleep. The worst condition of the inner child is the cataleptic inner child.
While the truth about inner selves goes back to Antiquity, the insight in modern times has been made fruitful for psychiatry through Eric Berne in 1950, the founder of transactional analysis and therapy.
Eric Berne recognized three essential inner selves, the Inner Child, Inner Parent and Inner Adult, and besides, the Inner Controller and the Inner Shadow.
In my own research and auto-therapeutic work with the inner dialogue during an Erickson hypnotherapy, I encountered the presence of additional entities and found that if the Inner Controller is hypertrophied and thus dominating the psyche, the result is that we are unable to realize our love desires.
In addition to these inner selves, I encountered an entity of superior wisdom that I called Lux and a shadow entity I called Sad King and which as the personal embodiment of my Inner Shadow.
Our inner shadow is by and large a dysfunctional behavior pattern, and it has had devastating effects upon human evolution. The shadow clearly is not a creation of nature but the result of humans repressing their emotions. This led to humanity reversing the course of its evolution and entered a state of devolution.
To help you understand how the inner shadow comes about, I need to explain what repression means. Repression is a term coined by Sigmund Freud that describes a function of the psyche in the case consciousness meets a desire that is strongly prohibited by the inner controller.
What happens in this case is that the psyche will repress the desire into the unconscious in order to uphold the functioning of the ego which would otherwise be disturbed in maintaining the integrity of the psyche.
On the starting point of repression is denial. All repression starts with a denial, the denial of one of our inner entities or energies, as they are part of our inner selves, or the denial or an emotion, of a desire, of a dream, of a way of realizing oneself. Denial is mainly the result of moralism, the quite arbitrary and culturally conditioned split between good and bad emotions, good and bad feelings, good and bad desires, good and bad behavior.
It has to be seen that regression, while a familiar term in cognitive psychology, is entangled with repression. Every form of repression results in regression.
Let me explain. When I repress my sexual desire for copulating with adult women, for whatever reason, I will regress in my sexual maturity, and the result is that I will turn back on the wheel of sexual evolution, and enter the realm of sexual paraphilias. In most cases, I will not be consciously aware of the fact that a repression takes place, or that I deny my desire. I will not be aware that I block my emotional flow, and that I am in a fear-condition.
Please note that regression in psychology is not usually linked to repression. While repression always leads to regression, regression can also occur independently of repression, and then we talk about an entirely different set of phenomena.
Regression in psychology and in natural healing typically is the fact of leading the patient back to the original wounding as from a point of effectiveness and natural psychosomatic dynamics, without the encountering of the original wounding in the dream, hypnotic or trance state, a real and full healing can generally not be accomplished.
— See for example, Villoldo & Krippner, Healing States (1987), for an illustration of this principle, and for a practical example, as well as further references.
This results in the bioenergy that feeds this desire to retrograde and change polarity. I have adopted the term retrogradation from astronomy and astrology, and was inspired insofar by the humanistic astrologer Dane Rudhyar as it is really a lucid metaphor: retrogradation means that the energy of the planet becomes introvert for the time of the retrogradation. And the similarity to psychological retrogradation is striking!
When a child’s primary biogenic vitality is impaired by moralistic education, the child looses spontaneity and becomes shy and introvert, thereby dramatically reducing communication strings with the outside world, and at the same time begins to communicate more strongly on the inside level.
This becomes then, what is called a hypersensitive child. This leads to timidity and can result in an impaired communication ability for life, such as stuttering or extensive sweating when being around people. In the extreme case, and under conditions that amplify the original retrogradation of the natural drive for full emonic satisfaction, sadism begins to develop and can become an obsession that dominates the whole sexual life of the person.
The Inner Child
The Inner Child is an inside entity, part-personality, or psychic energy, created between our 7th and 14th year of life, and that is part of our inner triangle.
Positively, the inner child energy is primarily emotional and wistful, predominantly creative. It is the motor of every human being’s creativity. Negatively, the inner child is either mute or cataleptic so that its energy cannot manifest, or else its energy is turned upside-down which makes an inner child that is rebellious, capricious, willful or overbearing.
The Inner Adult
The Inner Adult is an inside entity, part-personality or psychic energy that represents our logical thinking, our reason, our maturity.
Positively, it makes for our balanced decisions, our down-to-earth attitude and our sense for daily responsibilities. Negatively, the inner adult manifests as the intellectual nerd or through emotional frigidity, cynicism or an obsession to measure human relations on a scale of reasonableness or straightness without considering the emotional dimension and without sensitivity.
The hypertrophied inner adult energy plays a major role in modern education where it results in devastating damage on the next generations’ emotional integrity.
The Inner Parent
The Inner Parent is an inside entity, part-personality or psychic energy that represents our inner value standards, our moral attitudes, our caring for self and others, but negatively also our judging others, our I-know-better attitude or blunt interference into the lives of others without regard for their privacy.
The hypertrophied inner parent energy plays a dominant role in tyrannical and persecutory societal, religious and political systems.
The Inner Dialogue
The Inner Dialogue is a technique that facilitates to get in touch with our inner selves through relaxation or self-hypnosis and subsequent dialogues with one or several of our inner selves, in a state of light trance.
This state of light trance can be self-induced, a technique that I demonstrate and explain in detail in specialized publications. The inner dialogue should ideally be fixed on paper, at least in the beginning, because the voices that come up, are very soft and writing down the dialogues helps to keep focus. The technique is also called voice dialogue, for example by Stone & Stone, in their Voice Dialogue Manual (1989).
However, the expression could mislead novice users as the ‘voices’ are not really human voices, as they are not to be heard with our ears, but something like intuitions, or flashes of intuition, or sudden precisely formulated thoughts that seem to come ‘from nowhere.’
Multidimensionality of the Psyche
Through the inner dialogue, I came to the insight that our psyche, every healthy psyche, is composed of a multitude of energies or entities, and that it is through our ego that these entities are working under a certain roof structure of conscious control. Otherwise, if this ego, for whatever reasons disappears, we enter the realm of schizophrenia, which can be, as in psychedelic trips, a welcome temporary condition.
Function of the Ego
The function of the ego is not to dominate any of our inner entities, but to orchestrate them, to direct them in a team-like cooperation, such as for example the conductor of an orchestra leads more than 100 musicians to play in synch in order to reproduce a musical score with accurate precision and harmonious sound.
This is the function of the healthy ego within the multidimensional psyche. Needless to add that with most people the ego and the inner controller are hypertrophied and dominate if not suppress all other inner entities which is the explanation why such a high percentage of the world’s population is completely uncreative, dull and imitative in their behavior, and why they use only about five to eight percent of their emotional intelligence potential.
Another consequence that repression brings about, is regression, which means a devolution of consciousness, a backward development in terms of psychosexual maturity — a state that is undesirable socially, because it involves a lessening of emotional and erotic self-consciousness. The insight about this process helps us to accept all of our desires and to find constructive solutions to live them out with consenting partners whatever their age.
This leads to the positive result that desires will not regress and instead develop into higher energetic manifestations that help the whole personality in its evolution.
A further result of repression and denial is projection. Projection is a psychic automatism that is a by-product of repression. When an emotion or desire gets repressed, projection sets in and what is blinded out from wake consciousness is projected upon others — who then get the blame for what is originally a part of the person’s own life. This is the true meaning of Matthew 7:1–5 which says:
Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
In most cases, the inner shadow is at the basis of a person’s sexuality turning into one or the other form of sadism, for example sadomasochism or sadistic pedophilia, which in turn often is at the basis of child rape and killing.
Sadism is a blockage of the natural emotional flow through a predominantly moralistic or puritanical education, often accompanied by physical punishment, which leads to a repression of the natural streaming of the hot and melting sexual energy and as a result, to demonic emotions, and violence, because the naturally deep sexual discharge becomes shallow or even is inhibited. As a result, the naturally hot and tender sexual feelings are disintegrated and distorted into a compulsion for sex targeting at strong explosive sexual discharge, as a matter of abreacting an urge, instead of embracing a mate.
Sexual discharge in fact temporarily alleviates the fear armor but tends to entangle the person, who is unconscious of the affliction, long-term in sexual aggression, assault and generally a bullying, racketing or abasing behavior, that degrades and dehumanizes the mate to a passive dummy.
Sadism was badly understood before Wilhelm Reich’s in-depth research on the sexual orgasm revealed that the natural sexual drive is by no means aggressive or compulsive, but controlled by empathy and love for the sexual mate.
Only in sadism, which is a distortion of the natural emotional and sexual setup, this empathy tends to be overridden by an overwhelming longing for egocentric, and power-ridden, satisfaction virtually on the back, and to the detriment, of the sexual mate. This is why long-term sexual sadism leads to a corruption of the personality, as the pattern for abuse then is laid also in a general manner, and the person tends to take advantage of others in the form of a habitual behavior structure, and thus becomes what is called an ‘abuser.’
But for this to happen, the pattern must have been ingrained for long, and the person must never have gained awareness of the self-distorting pattern. This is rather the extreme case, as often people become aware of their sadistic needs and begin to become suspicious about the obvious violence of their sexual behavior, and then begin to look for a way out, and may seek out a minister, physician, psychiatrist or psychotherapist for advice and consultation.
Breaking the sadism pattern is greatly facilitated through being around babies and small children, and generally, when men are actively involved in taking care of things, of children, of trees, of gardens and flowers, or for cooking and cleaning the house.
Hence, the need for involving males in early child care. All these tasks are getting men in touch with their yin side, or anima, thereby helping them to overcome the macho or hero spirit that is negatively conducive to building the abuse pattern as a long-term affliction and personality trait. For we have to see that sadism is not only an individual problem, but also a societal concern.
Our Western culture is largely sadistic; this sadism can be shown with many examples from the historian’s or the psychohistorian’s toolbox.
Thus, sadism is a direct outflow and consequence of centuries if not millennia of moralism as a sort of emotional plague that has distorted our emosexual behavior structure.
Our value system is deeply freedom and touch hostile and this value system was built because our deep emotions are out of touch with our natural emosexual base structure.
This value system is against nature because it favors violence and shuns natural sexual tenderness and respectful non-violent embrace among generations, as a prolongation of necessary and health-fostering touch among all members of society.
The notion of the anima first appears in print in Carl Jung’s study Psychological Types, in 1921.
Some psychology writers suggest that C.G. Jung’s dichotomy of animus/anima were gender-specific archetypal structures in the collective unconscious that are compensatory to conscious gender identity. Some even construe from this Jungian idea something like a contrasexual archetype, developed out of Jung’s desire to conceptualize the important complementary poles in human psychological functioning.
I believe that animus/anima have nothing to do with our gender or gender impregnation, but that they are notions related to wholeness and the dualism of polar energetic forces in us. They are thus related to both our soul and our individual bioenergetic setup. In this sense, anima is the archetype symbolizing the unconscious female component of the male psyche and it embraces tendencies or qualities often associated with being ’feminine’ in character or expression.
Anima is a Latin word and means something like breath of life, something that is animated with life or with soul. In patriarchal society it’s especially important to stress the existence of anima as many men completely repress their feminine side and associated characteristics which clearly impoverishes them.
The prototype, then, is the macho who is but interested in beer and football, who considers women and girls as ’household items’ or at best pleasure dolls and who makes down knowledge and study as ’past-time for weaklings’ — the result are the well-known hit and sweat religions that we encounter especially in Anglo-Saxon and Latino cultures and that are grouped around right-wing and neo-fascist political movements and interest groups. I simply coin it the hero cult.
On the level of the soul, anima is a personification of the feminine values. Venus, Persephone, Ariadne, and others are personifications of the anima archetype.
Every man carries within him the eternal image of woman, not the image of this or that particular woman, but a definitive feminine image. This image is fundamentally unconscious. (…) Since this image is unconscious, it is always unconsciously projected upon the person of the beloved, and is one of the chief reasons for passionate attraction or aversion.
— Carl-Gustav Jung, The Development of Personality (1954).
Animus is the corresponding notion, symbolizing the unconscious male component of the female psyche and it embraces tendencies or qualities often associated with being ’masculine’ in character or expression. In women, animus refers to developing the kind of assertive, capable powers often attributed primarily to men, and that are crucial for women’s advancement in every male-dominated society.
There is of course also the negative animus archetype, which is embodied by the proverbial career woman who has no consideration for either males or children, and who is workaholic and dominant in character and expression.
The persona is the social mask or appearance one presents to the world. The term originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. The persona may appear in dreams under various guises. Importantly, the persona, used in this sense, is not a pose or some other intentional misrepresentation of the self to others. Rather, it is the social adaptation of the self, or the socially conditioned part of the self; as such it is not original but derived, self-construed, and may change according to situation and context.
A major task in acquiring self-knowledge is understanding the relationship between who one is and how one presents oneself to the world. Adapting to certain occasions, behaving in a manner suitable to that occasion, and knowing how best to navigate a vast multitude of situations is a necessary part of life. For this one needs to develop a healthy persona.
Optimally, this does not undermine the authenticity of the self. Its primary function is to navigate the space between the inner world of ego with its surrounding self and the outer world of values and culture. How these worlds rub up against one another is negotiated by the persona.
According to Jungian analyst Dr. Boris Matthews, the persona is a functional complex that operates as an attitude, or way of relating to, the outer world. It serves both as interface with the world and protection from the outer world, depending on life experience including how one has been accepted, wounded or rejected when one has naively presented an authentic thought, feeling, or reaction.
A Murder Mythology
When you inquire in European mythology you become early aware that it’s marked by murder and again murder. I shall not indulge in recounting senseless murder stories that some psychologists take for the blank truth, but just give a short sketch. Up to the reader to inquire further, using Wikipedia or other sources of knowledge.
I have said my last word on European murder mythology in my article On the Spiritual Laws of Matriarchy: Joseph Campbell, the Lunar Bull, the Serpent, and the Reversal of Mythological Meaning during Patriarchy.
For all those joyful idealists who adore and worship Greek and Roman cultures, among them being many boylovers and homosexuals, I can only say that these cultures were decadent no lesser than ours. Only look at the sordid ways that Socrates was persecuted, trialed, and put to death, to have one of many examples of the often-assumed ‘liberty’ and ‘democracy’ of ancient Greek culture!
I will not take a decadent culture that has lost any balance between yang and yin values as a denominator for our collective psyche as Carl Jung did it, while he relegated the female to the anima role.
Joseph Campbell was more precise in this point, calling the female principle under patriarchy the ‘counterplayer’ in our psychic setup. Counterplayer sounds good and strong, and it empowers the female principle in the sense that while it’s on the level of the unconscious, it contains real power.
As Joseph Campbell has shown, the original myths, the ones that precede the murder mythology, were not to the point violent, and they were not preaching out-group hate, segregation and murder as ‘solutions’ for human problems as patriarchal mythology does. So over the course of human history such a deep change on the level of the collective unconscious has been effected already, so it can be done.
Becoming an Individual
The Journey to Self
The Tree of Life is different from the Pedigree or Genealogical Tree. To walk into your own life basically implies to leave home, and to make the psychological cut with the matrix. For this to happen, we have to go through a whole process of identity building that commences as early as in babyhood. Building identity is coupled with building autonomy.
Liz Greene & Juliet Sharman-Burke write in their enlightening study The Mythic Journey (2000):
There is a mysterious impulse in all of us to become ourselves — unique and defined individuals apart from the family bonds, partnerships and community life which give us a feeling of identity. But, as myth tells us, the process of becoming an individual is a hard and sometimes painful one. It involves not only a willingness to meet the inner and outer challenges that test our strength, but also a capacity to stand alone and endure the envy or hostility of those us who have not yet begun this journey towards selfhood. Myth presents us with stories about how hard it is to leave home and what kind of dragons we must encounter and fight in our struggle towards autonomy. Not least, mythic tales also reveal the profound importance of a sense of personal purpose and meaning — perhaps the deepest mystery imbedded in our efforts to become what we truly are. We may not always recognize the degree to which we have avoided the challenge of individuality and the everyday ways in which we betray our most heartfelt values in order to feel we belong. In these spheres, myths can offer not only insight, but also the reassurance that self-development is not necessarily the same thing as selfishness. We cannot really offer to others what we have not yet developed within ourselves.
— Liz Greene & Juliet Sharman-Burke, The Mythic Journey (2000), p. 73.
Our present social and educational system makes us believe that there are standard truths for all of us, standard values, standard forms of behavior and a standardized morality framework for all of us. A natural science that was deeply alienated from spiritual truth and whose main advocate was Charles Darwin has led many to simply compare humans to the animal race and to deduct social, political and psychological conclusions from such a haphazard premise.
The fact that we all got two arms and two legs does not mean that we can compare human beings with each other on a soul level. If we could, it would be easy and practical to work out standards for self-improvement and promote them worldwide in schools, universities and the media.
I do not say that this idea is nonsense per se. In the contrary, I am the first to advocate it and I do work hard for its realization. But only if the primary condition is met. This condition is that the methods taught are only pathways to guide people toward their own inner guru, and not to establish the ultimate Big Brother Gurus & Co. multinational.
The only wisdom you can learn is the one you have got already, that is contained in your continuum, your own inner space, your timeless soul, your potential. All wisdom, all knowledge that we can find, we knew it already before, and if we wish, we can find it again. I think we all have gone, as humans, through the loss of connectedness with our true source.
From this experience of loss we keep a deep-down memory, somewhere in our collective unconscious. From this memory and the depression and loneliness that followed, we have developed a feeling of anticipation, a deep anxiety regarding the lost knowledge. This is why many of us today still reject what they call esoteric knowledge or make it down as superstition or imagination.
Life is our creation at every infinitesimal point of the lifeline.
The lifeline itself has no beginning and no end and therefore is more appropriately described as the circle-of-life, or the spiral-of-life.
There is no doubt about our impact upon the invisible threads out of which the web of life is woven. However, the depressed and alienated masses tend to believe that there is, if ever, only negligible individual control over life and that life is per se destined to be this or that way, according to some mysterious heavenly plan.
In reality, there simply is no such plan. It is interesting to see to what extent this wrong presumption contributes to the dullness of the ignorant masses.
Contemplating the power of nature, of creation, how can one associate anything but freedom with the fundamental force from which sprang all the thousand things?
This force has created unlimited freedom and power. However, humans have limited it to the tiny stupid thing that they have made out of life and that they use to call their life. They talk of my life and your life, as if we individually owned life, as if life could be owned at all. Only things can be owned but life is not a thing, but a dynamic, energetic process — a cosmic dance.
Only utter ignorance about the very roots of life could bring about the present state of affairs among us humans, this desperate dependency and passivity of humans worldwide. Of course, we are very busy imitating others and in that many people find their shallow satisfaction. It is a lack of energy, of commitment to ourselves and our individual, very specific mission that makes us comply with the baseline of living and transforms us into bad copies of ourselves.
Few people live original lives, first-hand lives.
Compared with the masses of imitators and robots that run around on this globe, these people represent a tiny minority.
And if you look close at them you find out quickly that they are always the contradictors, the ones who try to do things differently, the ones who are not easily satisfied, not easily duped into some petty mediocre thing, be it a job or a partner or a million in the lottery.
Their value system is strangely different from the one most people have blindly adopted. When they were children, they were keen, very curious, sometimes excessively inquisitive, yet not out of low intention but from a deep thirst for human experience and interest in the human soul. In school, or more generally, in systems, educational, military or otherwise, they are the big or small disturbers, the ones who never fit in, the ones who won’t comply with most of the rules, the ones also who spontaneously create different rules that, typically, function better than the rules they broke.
I do not say that you have to become a rule-breaker in order to get to know your original self, while rule-breaking at times does trigger a personal path of self-perfection. I do say, however, that in order to get in touch with your own originality, you have to become acutely aware of all the influences you are exposed to at any moment of your life.
Why? Because there are influences that are beneficial for your growth and there are others that are harmful for it or that for the least are going to retard it. The art of life is all about being able to distinguish the latter influences from the former.
Some authors and gurus require an inner purification before they admit that our soul can grow and develop. However, this means to put a time element in something that is beyond or outside of time.
Matters concerning the soul or our higher self are outside the time-space continuum. If we assume that growth processes on this level can only take place after going through a sort of soul graduation, we assemble events on a timeline that have no place there.
It seems smarter to admit that the very process of growing implies in itself a purification of old soul content. There is probably, without our knowing of it, a continuous process of renewal going on in the soul.
In addition, it seems more effective to think in terms of evolution than in terms of purification. Purification focuses on the past, evolution on the future. If I want to ride a bicycle or a car and watch the road too closely, I am accident-prone. I ride safely if I gaze within a farther distance.
The same is true for personal evolution. Directed, voluntary progress is possible only if there is vision, and a vision that heads farther into the future than just tomorrow or next week. True vision is created by your higher self, after deep relaxation, by centering within and focusing upon your uniqueness.
Many people, especially from the older generation, find it against the rules of good taste to focus upon themselves, to do self-improvement or generally to bestow attention on themselves. Many of them carry along deep guilt feelings from childhood, often having suffered mistreatment and neglect in their early years. As a result, they tend to block off when they are asked to take care of themselves. They may indulge in a good deal of social help for others, assist in welfare projects, or be otherwise useful to the community. More often than not, their self-neglect ends with a cancer or some other violent disease that crowns the big sacrifice they wanted to offer with their life!
We cannot be ultimately useful if we regard ourselves as useless. We cannot bestow loving attention upon others if we do not give it to us first. True religion, in the sense of the word, begins with taking care of self.
This is not a religion of egotism as you may haphazardly consider it, but the only true religion. We do never know others good enough to judge their spiritual views, needs and belongings.
We are all on different levels of evolution and different spheres of existence and belong to different soul groups and energy fields; and we all have had different former lives, incarnations and challenges, and we all carry different visions about our individual evolution and the evolution of our clan or race.
It is this difference about our soul origins that makes us so helpless when we talk about what we call spiritual matters. Have you ever observed that people talk on different levels of consciousness when they discuss about what is called spirituality?
The true lover of truth does not make a distinction between spiritual and non-spiritual matters since this distinction is artificial and without value.
For the spiritually minded being, everything is spiritual.
For the materialistically minded individual, everything is material.
Life is a whole process and every attempt to divide it up, to section it, to dissect it into various parts is detrimental to grasping its perfume.
Adam & Eve
Metaphorically, we can compare symbiosis with paradise.
Adam and Eve had to leave paradise — why? They had to leave paradise for developing their individuality, their autonomy. Paradises are not different from other things in that they, too, have a shadow: positively, they give us the almost complete illusion of security and satisfy all possible desires. But negatively, they are true prisons.
The tree of knowledge was forbidden in paradise to Adam and Eve — and we must add, even in paradise! Or, more clearly put, it was forbidden to them because they lived in paradise. To live with their full potential, Adam and Eve had to follow the wisdom of the serpent. Eating the apple, they knew each other as man and woman: they got to know about their sexual identity. It was also their discovery of sexuality since the Bible uses the old expression to ‘know another’ for sexual intercourse.
Through the fact of knowing the other, recognizing the sexual identity of the partner, we get information about our own sexual identity.
This is an important truth: love leads to self-knowledge and is a part of our growth process. Without loving others, and I dare to specify, making love with others, we will hardly get to know ourselves.
Through love we grow, we mature. Leaving paradise is exactly this, leaving the childhood of dependency implying a self-sufficient, narcissistic way of being, and opening up to true relationship where every partner is a whole autonomous beings. Love means relating and taking responsibility for one’s love choices.
All sentient beings have to leave the nest of paradise. The fetus, decided he to stay in the womb to avoid the trauma of birth, would die right there! Adam and Eve, leaving paradise, survived! Their leaving paradise was a birth, a birth to life on earth, life in a body of flesh, created by desire, an incarnated life.
The family tree and the phylogenetic tree both symbolize the nest, the matrix. They are the symbols for the hereditary roots of the person. But they are also prisons and graves for the individual.
This truth is pointed out in many religious scriptures and Ramana Maharshi expresses it in the formula that we have to go beyond the confusion that we are the body, that we should set aside our unconscious or conscious identification with the body.
Once we have found that we are spiritual beings, sparkles of light in a universe of light or planets or stars, as the natives say, we understand that the family is only the nest and as such a kind of springboard which should catapult us into life, into our own life.
Guru & Disciple
The Learning Relation
The true meaning of the guru-disciple relation is often hidden, and in our times, it is often profoundly misunderstood.
To begin with, such a relationship has nothing to do with what the famous American coach Anthony Robbins sells as ‘modeling,’ that is, to more or less clone another person who is very successful, in order to become oneself successful.
It is by no means by cloning the guru that one becomes connected with one’s own self. It is rather as it is said in Zen that one has to kill the Buddha in order to become the Buddha.
The role of some people we meet in life is to help us detaching from alienating fusion, so that we can build true autonomy.
These people who catalyze in us our true desire or mission are healers, therapists or wistful lay persons who help us get free through their love and devotion, their unselfish understanding and friendship.
Often these people went themselves through the problems involved in fusion and have therefore sharpened their awareness. They may have come to the insight that true love is something different from pseudo-symbiotic attachment to others and that love gives freedom, not attachment. Some of these people have little awareness of their role as healers and appear to us in humble appearance or situation, which however does by no means affect the light they bring us.
Inner freedom begins with finding out what we really want, what, in the depth of our heart, we desire to realize, and what is our life’s mission.
Self-knowledge is the door to inner freedom in that it gives us the tools that lead us out of our labyrinths of pseudo-symbiosis. Without knowing who we are we let ourselves over to being guided by others. Such entanglement in the energies outside of the self leads, especially in the spiritual realm, to more or less complete alienation from our own potential of light, riches and abundance.
Self-knowledge opens the door to the treasures of our own light and our own truth which is available to all of us as spiritual beings.
But this treasure is in our heart and, with many of us, unfortunately too well protected and therefore buried there. Self-knowledge is a continuous process of self-exploration. It gradually unveils all the secrets of our being and our individuality that will remain untouched by collective religious undertakings.
Self-knowledge leads to comprehending the relativity of truth and the incapacity of man to grasp an absolute concept of truth. This limitation of the human existence is inherent in every truth. Therefore, on the human level all that is objective becomes subjective, because subjectively related!
There are gurus who reject worldly power while at the same time exerting a much greater power over their followers than the worldly approach would allow. Such opinions are not only not true, they are not only not spiritual, they represent what power is perceived of by most people, namely a strange, alienating and dominating force that we either reject or eagerly want to acquire.
That is why most people live in an almost paranoid contradiction; while they reject power, they are not aware that they reject their own soul power as well. Doing this, they throw out the baby with the bathwater.
And while they want to acquire outside power by all means, they are not aware of the power they possess inside and which, striving for mere outside power, they diminish or smash by non-attention. The result of this strange situation is that both the power-rejecters and the power-seekers are blind to the necessity and the value of power!
The distorted image of their own power potential makes them split the human race into the oppressed or power-rejecters, on one hand, and the oppressors or the power-seekers, on the other. They tend to argue that in life there is only one essential choice to be made: to choose if you want to situate yourself among the oppressed, or losers, rather than switching to the side of the oppressors, or winners. Tertium non datur.
Many people unconsciously harbor this kind of an inner program, that is written in the language of either-or options. If I do not want to be poor, I have to become rich. If I do not want to be among the losers, I have to go for becoming a winner. And so on.
The blind spot of these philosophies is obviously that they exclude the tertium, the third alternative. In general, when analyzing people with either-or philosophies, we see that they are torn up by fears, that they are rather defensive and that their self-esteem is quite low. If somebody else, a friend for example, tries to put the finger on the wound and tells them about their bias, they react either with aggression or call the friend naive, or else jovially point out that ‘unfortunately the world is essentially bad’ or ‘people are essentially bad’ and that therefore one had to make sure to find a place in the sun, cost it what it costs.
Now, if we see this clearly, we can approach the problem from a psychological point of view. This allows us to gain insight in the human nature by discarding out quick judgments about what we think or believe human beings are like.
That kind of general judgments are conditioned by our past experiences and hurts. They are highly subjective.
True knowledge about the human nature is not abstract and hardly to be gathered other than by passive self-observation.
When we observe the phenomenon of power or what we think it is, both at the outside and inside level, we see that there is something we could identify as soul power, and something we could call worldly power. Worldly power always is a projection, while soul power is the true power.
What does this mean in detail?
Let’s go slowly into this, because it is a very complex matter. The danger in this kind of analysis is to jump to conclusions that are conditioned by the past, and by our old convictions and ideas. To approach the problem with a fresh mind means that we try to change our point of departure; it is like changing the observer, to use the terminology of quantum physics.
This implies that we once again look inside of ourselves in order to see what power really is or how we usually perceive it. If I do this now, supposing that you do it with me, what do I see? I see that with all that I want, with all my desire for fulfillment, for accomplishment, for recognition, for outside riches, I want essentially three things:
- Live my life without fear;
- Live in peace with the world;
- Realize love and happiness in my relationships.
When I see now that this is what I really want, what then?
Would I not inquire why I experience fear at all? And would I not be astonished why I want to live in peace?
Peace — for what? I can’t buy anything for that. And why should I realize love and happiness in my relationships? What value has that? Once I have the position that gives me power, once I have the partner that really fulfills me, once I have the car I ever dreamt of and the house that gives me enough space and freedom to feel at home — would I not feel satisfied and happy? Why should I question this damn concept of power at all?
Of course, you can refuse looking at it. You are free to do so. But once in a while, these questions tend to come up anyway, if you wish or not, and a felt sense of what you really desire comes up as well. And then you are puzzled, because you wonder why you should desire such commonplace childish things as peace or happiness in a world that you think has no place for that.
When we look again, we may stop a moment and see that the world hardly can have a place for that, if we individually do not give it a place. The world is at peace. The only creation that is not is the human being. Agreed? What you get to see in our media world is disempowering for the most part. I even go as far as saying that you, in your role as a passive media and information consumer, are per se disempowered! And as long as you are disempowered, your perception of power is distorted.
If you look with this distorted concept inside of you, you see yourself through thick glasses, because your perception is conditioned.
Thus, by meeting the guru, we actually meet our own inner guide, metaphorically incarnated in the guru. And through the guru we do not become like the guru, but more and more ourselves. That is the magic of the guru-disciple relation when it’s understood from its origins, and not in its perverted version of global business guruism.
In this sense, the guru may be an ordinary person in the eyes of the world, a person from your own country and even your own neighborhood; it can also be a family member, but is usually not the father, but an uncle or grandfather. The mythological content in the guru archetype is that it is self-reflective, and not dogmatic, sharing knowledge, not imposing knowledge.
It may be easily understood from the foregoing that gurus must have mastered their early hangups in the sense that they must be free of the need for imposing their own story upon their disciples, but are able to see the uniqueness in the disciple, and thus restrain themselves when it goes to sharing their personal story. They know that our personal stories are only the crutches that got us on our own track, and thus they know what counts in life is the process of becoming itself, not the becoming as a final goal that serves self-satisfaction.
To get on your own track, you do not need a guru, but it can be helpful in certain situations and especially in bifurcating situations to see oneself mirrored in the compassionate eyes of an experienced guru. It can help avoid mistakes and taking bad routes, if only that, but it anyway a transforming experience to meet even once with a person who has reached the transpersonal state of personal realization. It’s a transforming experience!
Castor & Pollux
In Greek mythology the Dioskouroi, Kastor and Polydeuces, in Roman mythology the Gemini (Latin for twins) Castor and Pollux are the twin sons of Leda and the brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. According to Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon, kastor is Greek for beaver, and poludeukeis means very sweet.
Castor and Polydeuces are sometimes both mortal, sometimes both divine.
One consistent point is that if only one of them is immortal, it is Polydeuces.
In Homer’s Iliad, Helen looks down from the walls of Troy and wonders why she does not see her brothers among the Achaeans. The narrator remarks that they are both already dead and buried back in their homeland of Lacedaemon, thus suggesting that at least in some early traditions, both were mortal. Their death and shared immortality offered by Zeus was material of the lost Cypria in the Epic cycle.
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a most skillful artificer, or craftsman, first mentioned by Homer as the creator of a wide dancing-ground for Ariadne. He create the labyrinth in which the Minotaur was kept.
A Cretan Story
Europa was a Phoenician woman in Greek mythology, from whom the name of the continent Europe has ultimately been taken. The story was a Cretan story.
The name Europa occurs in the list of daughters of primordial Oceanus and Tethys, and the daughter of the earth-giant Tityas and mother of Euphemus by Poseidon, was also named Europa. The etymology of her name suggests that Europa represented a lunar cow, at least at some symbolic level.
Demeter is the Greek goddess of grain and agriculture, the pure nourisher of youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death, and preserver of marriage and the sacred law. She is invoked as the ‘bringer of seasons’ in the Homeric hymn, a subtle sign that she was worshiped long before the Olympians arrived.
She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon. Persephone, daughter of the earth goddess Demeter became the queen of the underworld after her abduction by Hades.
God of the Underworld
Hades refers both to the ancient Greek underworld, the abode of Hades, and to the god of the dead himself. In Greek mythology, Hades and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon defeated the Titans and claimed rulership over the universe ruling the underworld, sky, and sea, respectively.
Because of his association with the underworld, Hades is often interpreted as a grim figure. Hades was also called Pluto. In Christian theology, the term Hades refers to the abode of the dead, sheol or hell where the dead await Judgment Day either at peace or in torment.
The King of Tyre
In history and Greek mythology, Agenor was a king of Tyre. His wife was Telephassa. Some sources state that Agenor was the son of Poseidon and Libya; these accounts refer to a brother named Belus. According to other sources, he was the son of Belus and Anchinoe. Sources differ also as to Agenor’s children; he is sometimes said to have been the father of Cadmus, Europa, Cilix, Phoenix, and Thasus.
And the Minotaur
In Greek mythology, Minos was a legendary king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades.
The Minoan Civilization has been named after him. In Greek mythology, Daedalus and Icarus were sons of King Minos of Crete.
Minos was challenged as king and prayed to Poseidon for help. Poseidon sent a giant white bull out of the sea. Minos planned on sacrificing the bull to Poseidon, but then decided not to. He substituted a different bull. In rage, Poseidon cursed Pasiphaë, Minos’ wife, with zoophilia.
Daedalus built her a wooden cow, in which she hid. The bull mated with the wooden cow and Pasiphaë was impregnated by the bull, giving birth to a horrible monster, the Minotaur.
Daedalus then built a complicated maze called the Labyrinth and Minos put the Minotaur in it. To make sure no one would ever know the secret of the Labyrinth, Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, in a tower. Daedalus and Icarus flew away on wings Daedalus invented, but Icarus’ wings melted because he flew too close to the sun. Icarus fell in the sea and drowned.
And the Bull
In Greek mythology, Pasiphaë was the daughter of Helios, the Sun. Like her doublet Europa, her origins were in the East, in her case at Colchis, the palace of the Sun; she was given in marriage to King Minos of Crete.
With Minos, she was the mother of Ariadne, and other children. In other aspects, Pasiphaë, like her niece Medea, was a mistress of magical herbal arts in the Greek imagination.
King of the Gods
Zeus is the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder, in Greek mythology.
His symbols are the thunderbolt, bull, eagle and the oak.
The son of Kronos and Rhea, he was the youngest of his siblings. He was married to Hera in most traditions, although at the oracle of Dodona his consort was Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione. Accordingly, he is known for his erotic escapades, including one pederastic relationship, with Ganymede.
His trysts resulted in many famous offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses; by Hera he is usually said to have sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.
Some Basics of Mythology Literature
The Complete World of Greek Mythology
London: Thames & Hudson, 2007
The Hero With A Thousand Faces
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 (Bollingen Series XVII)
London: Orion Books, 1999
The Power of Myth
With Bill Moyers, ed. by Sue Flowers
New York: Anchor Books, 1988
Astrology of Fate
York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 1986
A New Look at an Old Devil
York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 1976
The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption
Boston: Red Wheel Weiser, 1996
The Mythic Journey
With Juliet Sharman-Burke
The Meaning of Myth as a Guide for Life
New York: Simon & Schuster (Fireside), 2000
Jung, Carl Gustav
Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious
in: The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung
New York: The Modern Library, 1959, 358–407