In simply trying to understand what is happening to me now… I keep going back to Jung, specially to his book Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, but also his book Dreams. Yesterday, a very old Facebook post popped into my notifications. It went back to early May before all the trauma occurred, and I had been more optimistic that all things eventually work themselves out to the best possible end result…now I am not so sure this is true at all.
In responding hopefully to this old thread, I said: “…I ran across this note I made some time back: ‘As we bump into each other, we effect and precipitate change in each other’s psychic fields of energy (or this could also be interpreted as consciousness).’ And, even though change in the masses may ultimately need to start as a change in each individual, by being together and communicating with each other, we are transforming ourselves and this can transform the collective…so, nothing is black and white…and what we are doing here and elsewhere is essential to bring about sustainable change in ourselves and others!”
What has transpired since I posted this comment is vivid proof that this sort of bumping into each other can indeed precipitate change, but the changes do not always end up being the type that elevates self and others. Such precipitation can also devastate and demonize self and other, casting the person so far into the bowels of the dreaded black pit (i.e., the unconscious)—the place where all that is unacceptable to modern, civilized man is cast—that those who have been banished there may never return… at least not whole.
Unable to sleep through most nights now, I have taken to rereading from the beginning Jung’s The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. I supposed this will be my third time reading it, and still I find I did not see or understand so many things from the first or second time I read it, and I forget so much! Thus, this is simply a note on what seemed particularly important to me…more so now than ever before. I supposed this has to do with the time that has passed since I last read this passage (my previous notes go back to the 90s), the trauma since endured, and the overwhelming sense of hopelessness that now prevails in my soul. Jung is talking about the collective unconsciousness (of course); something Ralph Waldo Emersonalso spoke and wrote about but calling it the Oversoul. In the overview, Jung sets up the framework for what will come in the rest of the book. The part that jumped out to me last night begins on page 21 where he writes:
“The necessary and needful reaction from the collective unconscious expresses itself in archetypally formed ideas. The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is. For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad. It is the world of water, where all life floats in suspension; where the realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living, begins; where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.
No, the collective unconscious is anything but an incapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world. There I am the object of every subject, in complete reversal of my ordinary consciousness, where I am always the subject that has an object. There I am utterly one with the world, so much a part of it that I forget all too easily who I really am. ‘Lost in oneself’ is a good way of describing this state. But this self is the world, if only a consciousness could see it. That is why we must know who we are.
The unconscious no sooner touches us than we are it–we become unconscious of ourselves. That is the age-old danger, instinctively known and feared by primitive man, who himself stands so very close to this pleroma. His consciousness is still uncertain, wobbling on its feet. It is still childish, having just emerged from the primal waters. A wave of the unconscious may easily roll over it, and then he forgets who he was and does thing that are strange to him. Hence primitives are afraid of uncontrolled emotions, because consciousness breaks down under them and gives way to possession. All man’s strivings have therefore been directed towards the consolidation of consciousness. This was the purpose of rite and dogma; they were dams and walls to keep back the dangers of the unconscious, the ‘perils of the soul.’ Primitive rites consist accordingly in the exorcizing of spirits, the lifting of spells, the averting of the evil omen, propitiation, purification, and the production by sympathetic magic of helpful occurrences.
It is these barriers, erected in primitive times, that later became the foundations of the Church. It is also these barriers that collapse the symbols become weak with age. Then the waters rise and boneless catastrophes break over mankind. The religious leader of the Taos pueblo, known as the Loco Tenente Gobrnador, once said to me: “The Americans should stop meddling with our religion, for when it dies and we can no longer help the sun our Father to cross the sky, the Americans and the whole world will learn something in ten years’ time, for then the sun won’t rise anymore.” In other words, night will fall, the light of consciousness is extinguished, and the dark sea of the unconscious breaks in.”
Jung says more, but I will stop paraphrasing at this point for this is where my journey seems to be ending too with the unconscious sea breaking in. In my story about The Divine Dodo, I attempt to capture through this simple, childish tale, the dangers of this journey that I am attempting. I have begun to realize (thanks to the random post that came back out of nowhere and another sleepless night) that this little bird, the Dodo, believes himself capable of maintaining his individual consciousness inside the depths of the darkest parts of the unconscious—quite impertinent for a little bird, and perhaps that’s is why he went extinctic in our modern real world. The last post of the Dodo’s journey seems to capture what Jung describes (perhaps this was in my subconscious when I wrote it, but I certainly did not consciously remember it when I wrote the last part of the journey of the Dodo): “For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad.”
The Dodo entering through the door of the soul leading to the deep well (left) & The Dodo lost in the boundless expanse (above) — Original artwork by Bébé
The Dodo has gone through the door into the unconscious realm where everything is immensely queer and alien to him. He has no idea what is up or down or even right in front of him. In the last post, he survives three trials when in the end he encounters primitives, thanks to DJ, who begin to conduct an ancient rite. This is where I leave the reader suspended on the Dodo’s fate, which I guess is my own. I’m not sure what will happen to him… I thought the story was going one way, but now I find myself utterly suspended and lost even more than when I started the adventures of the Dodo. Also, today is election day in the U.S., which could possibly be a referendum on the past two years where it seems indeed that the walls holding back the waters of the unconsciousness have eroded and burst, washing over the entire country and leaving it in an extreme state of distress. Perhaps the cry to build a wall is not so much a cry to build a real physical wall on the real physical border, but an inner wall inside of us again. One that can hold back and channel the inner demons churning in the dark water of the unconsciousness—waters that exists in every man, woman, and child; waters that are fully capable of taking possession of a human being and making them capable of doing anything.
This is something we have forgotten as modern human beings, but not the ancients or those still connected to this forgotten, but very real part of every human being. Now it seems we draw ever closer to the time the religious leader of the Taos pueblo (Loco Tenente Gobrnador) warned Jung almost 100 years ago: “The Americans should stop meddling with our religion, for when it dies and we can no longer help the sun our Father to cross the sky, the Americans and the whole world will learn something in ten years’ time, for then the sun won’t rise anymore.” And, if this does come to past, can we survive? Is anyone even listening…and does it matter?
In my humble opinion, Loco Tenente Gobrnador is talking about consciousness—the inner light inside every human being created by the fusion of psyche and spirit that generates a soul. When this inner sun sets, as is normal for everything experiences cycles of death and renewal, but when it sets but does not rise again because we have forgotten how to see it, then I wager it will take far less than 10 years time for humanity to become hopelessly lost in the dark depths of the soul. As a species on this planet, we have been mostly blessed so far, but there have been times of great brutality in our collective history at the hands of man—perhaps these were times when waves of unconscious swept human beings off the conscious ground they had gain. Now, it seems we stand collectively at a time when such a wave feels imminent again, but one that is much bigger and more volatile than ever before. A wave that could put out this inner sun so that it never rises again. Now is a time to honor the wisdom keepers who still know how to see this inner sun and guide us to higher, safer ground, so that we may to continue to grow as conscious sentient beings.
One final thought on Jung and the collective unconscious is something I did not even know about him and his theory until this moment. This is from Wikipedia:
In later years Jung revised and broadened the concept of archetypes even further, conceiving of them as psycho-physical patterns existing in the universe, given specific expression by human consciousness and culture. Jung proposed that the archetype had a dual nature: it exists both in the psyche and in the world at large. He called this non-psychic aspect of the archetype the “psychoid” archetype.
Jung drew an analogy between the psyche and light on the electromagnetic spectrum. The center of the visible light spectrum (i.e., yellow) corresponds to consciousness, which grades into unconsciousnessness at the red and blue ends. Red corresponds to basic unconscious urges, and the invisible infra-red end of the spectrum corresponds to the influence of biological instinct, which merges with its chemical and physical conditions. The blue end of the spectrum represents spiritual ideas; and the archetypes, exerting their influence from beyond the visible, correspond to the invisible realm of ultra-violet. Jung suggested that not only do the archetypal structures govern the behavior of all living organisms, but that they were contiguous with structures controlling the behavior of inorganic matter as well.