Jungian Re-integration: Gathering Wholeness

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Allow me to share two difficult stories around the theme of re-integration this week. Carl Jung recognized three stages in the process of psychological individuation that are closely tied with the three phases of the hero cycle or the three stages of rites of passage cycles. For Jung these three stages of individuation include: integration, disintegration, and reintegration. The story of Isis descending to retrieve and reassemble the dismembered parts of her brother-husband Osiris well illustrates this process.

We may feel as if we are whole until some disruptive experience  dismembers us and we feel we have  “fallen to pieces.” Then we must “pick up the pieces” and “put ourselves back together again,” resulting in a new self with regard to difficulties we have faced.

On NPR on Saturday, I listened to a story that reminded me of this theme of Jungian reintegration. A mother, Sarah, was dealt the worst blow life has to offer: one of her two twin sons, Caleb, died from a genetic illness. Sarah donated Caleb’s body to science. Yet she found she could not leave it at that; two years later Sarah followed up on where various body parts of her beloved son were delivered and to what use they were being put.  She found that Caleb’s cornea was still in use in studies of infant blindness; DNA studies comparing her two twins’ blood samples had revealed thousands of discrepancies of an epigenetic nature; and Caleb’s retina was a valuable resource in a Philadelphia study of infant illnesses.

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In tracing what had happened with her son’s donated parts, Sarah was re-integrating her very memory of Caleb. He had not died without purpose or consequence, and Sarah’s decision to donate his young body to science had served more than to alleviate her own suffering. Sarah summed it up nicely:

“The choices you make affect others.”

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images are from pixabay.com

The second story I wish to share is as grim as Sarah’s.  Just yesterday while driving on an interstate highway to Denver, I passed a male deer which had just been struck by a vehicle. It was terrible. The deer had been impacted at its rear so that both of its rear legs were broken. I pulled off The highway to call the state police. That poor deer was scraping itself off from the highway shoulder, in terrible agony. He could not survive for long in that condition. The state troopers would euthanize this Soul’s mortal body. I knew this was the only way for this Deer Soul to return to wholeness spiritually, though it could never return to its physical family. I stayed until the troopers arrived, sending what peace and love I could to the struggling animal.

Reintegration is a reassembling of parts of the Self which may have been lost or dismembered through crisis.  As we pick up the pieces we go forward with what we have left, hopefully contributing to others from the lessons we have gained from our ordeals, so that others may suffer less down the road.

These stories are grim indeed.  But they remind us of how life may also deal harsh experience. Yet, the hero cycle or rites of passage allow the process of individuation to be always an upward spiral of growth and purpose.

I welcome always your comments and stories.

Life Is… Your Ensemble Cast of Mythic Archetype Characters

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Friday night there was a triple feature treat for me on Turner Classic Movies, with Man of La Mancha, Camelot, and Lost Horizon all playing on the same night! These are three of my favorite tales. Now I know better why these stories all appeal to me: they each have ensemble casts with very distinctive personalities. Don Quixote has his Sancho Panza and Dulcinea, as well as his shadowy foils. Lost Horizon has a range of personalities within the group of plane crash survivors and Temple personages including the Abbot, Conway’s resistant, pragmatic brother, and several other colorful characters each with their own distinct motivations and roles. And of course, Camelot has Arthur’s Merlin and his Lady Guinevere along with his Knights of the Roundtable and his own set of shadowy foes.

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Arthur’s Roundtable image is what I want to focus on as we begin a new month here at Life Paths for Better Endings. Carl Jung makes reference to a similar Roundtable that he saw in a significant dream he describes in The Red Book.  Jung’s table had an emerald green surface and twelve seating positions around it like spokes on a wheel. He comments in The Red Book about the significance of twelve, as in twelve disciples or the twelve zodiac signs, and in his dream a feminine archetypal figure visiting Jung as a white dove mentions “the twelve” as well. Elsewhere Jung has written about the factor of twelve primordial archetypes representing the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and the three natural energetic phases of any process (origination, maintenance, and dissolution). Dr. Charles Bebeau (with his wife, Nin Bebeau) developed these Jungian concepts—which Dr. Bebeau also relates to god/goddess figures in Sumerian astrology—into a pantheon of twelve universal persona Archetypes for his program in archetypal psychology at the Avalon Archetype Institute formerly in Boulder, Colorado.

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Above is a wheel of Bebeau’s universal archetypes, named as adapted for contemporary psychotherapy by Debra J. Breazzano, MA, L.P.C.. These are The Twelve that I am exposing you to with this year’s blog schedule, pairing one of the twelve universal archetypes with one of twelve positive Life Metaphors each month. As these archetype energy modes are universal, that means that each of us has all twelve of these potentials within us, although each of us develops some more than others especially in relation to the sorts of “typical situations” and roles we establish in our particular Life Paths.

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So, this month’s Life Metaphor is “Life is…An Ensemble Cast of Mythic Archetype Characters,” which are The Twelve Universal Archetype figures identified in the Archetype Wheel shown above.  They are an ensemble cast much as Arthur’s Knights of the Roundtable, or they can be, when they are integrated as a Council of Allies within your integrated, individuated Self. That is the topic we will explore this month!

Building Community with Your Archetype Allies

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We have been focusing on one archetype Ally per month with this year’s blog theme, introducing one after another of 12 universal persona or character archetypes that are part of the makeup of the human psyche for everyone though in different proportions situationally and culturally. Let’s not lose sight of the fact, however,  that the goal of recognizing and exploring all 12 of these primordial parts of Self is ultimately in order to integrate their unconscious potentials and to align them within the Psyche as an interactive Assembly or as a Council of Allies. You want to be able to call upon all of your archetypal perspectives and Strengths, together as a combined force of holistic energy, as you go forward to Live Your Dream, Now!

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I know that many of you readers are, like myself, also writers or artists of varied backgrounds and media. Consider the EDITOR in You. Archetypally one might at first assume that the Editor will draw upon either Communicator or Elder Leader strengths; or Artist or Idealist or even Teacher… but actually ANY of the Twelve might be associated with your artistic process and goals. If you limit your energetic focus to only one or another of these deep  unconscious energy reservoirs, you may limit and unduly constrain your creative, productive output considerably.

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For example, sometimes in the past (less so recently) when I would be writing an academic paper for a conference presentation or for a journal, I used to every once in a while hear this strong, sudden inner voice that stated emphatically, “Heil Hitler!” Whenever I would hear this, I would know it was time for me to step back, take a break, and re-read what I had been writing with an eye to seeing that I was being too forceful or didactic with my writing style and voice. I would need to simplify, add some humor or use less academic jargon in order to SOFTEN the message and to broaden the appeal of the article or presentation. Maybe I was in that moment channeling (as it were) my Elder Leader’s authoritarian traits but then my Nurturer or Artist intervened to call my attention to this unbalanced, overly strict or controlled focus. I always found the message amusing but it was also instructive; I learned to listen when this happened so as to know when to ease up and shift my approach to be more inclusive of a wider set of INTERNAL voices and values.

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The more integrated you become through attending to the multiplicity of perspectives within your REPERTOIRE of archetypal Ally orientations, the more holistic and integrative your creative and day-today work output—or parenting, or travel enjoyment, or whatever you are doing—will become. So I invite you to PLAY and to ENGAGE personally with the material I am presenting with this blog from day to day, week to week, and month to month. We are building here a COMMUNITY OF ALLIES that you can draw upon, always.

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I invite your insights and stories about your own archetypal creative experiences!

Jung’s RED BOOK: Using Mandalas to Ground Your Awareness

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Today I want to discuss Jung’s RED BOOK (or, Liber Novus; 2009) as an example of how to use Totemic Representation to ground and illuminate your personal growth and development.

For a series of evenings starting from November 23 – December 25, 1913, just before the outbreak of WWI,then continuing for 16 years off and on after that, Carl G. Jung, founder of Depth, or Analytical, Psychology and the primary pioneer in the field of archetypal research, undertook an adventurous odyssey; he dived into the netherworlds of his own unconscious depths, and he returned to integrate his dreamlike encounters with the denizens of his unconscious domains within his conscious awareness. Using a form of contemplative practice that he termed “active imagination,” Jung sank willingly into a dreamlike awareness in order to encounter aspects and personae of his own Psyche that he would refer to as Archetypes.

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 To Jung, Archetypes exist in a “collective unconscious” dimension; that is, similar archetypal images or forms are found all over the world and often appear in myths and dreams in similar ways and with similar meanings, although the individual appearance of an archetype might have very individual, personal form and specific cultural relevance. Jung identified several collective archetypes in his active imagination scenarios: an Anima (feminine aspect of a man’s Psyche), Shadow forms, and a Mage sort of figure represented in Jung’s experiences as a philosophical guide or guru figure, Philemon. He also experienced many fairly idiosynchratic figures related to his personal relationships and to his academic, religious, and literary background studies.

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Some of Jung’s archetypal encounters lasted for several nights at a time, weaving a meaningful story.  Every night after his active imagination session, Jung recorded what he had experienced—including dialogue that had occurred with his archetypal figures—in a special journal he called his Red Book. He would sometimes paint some of the content of his experience in the Red Book, too. Every time a storyline had revealed its full significance to Jung, when he came out of his reveries that night he painted a special artistic image to represent his understanding of that archetypal encounter in the form of a circular Mandala (see link).

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A Mandala is a universal sort of artistic image, created in a Circular form within what might be a 4-corner outer frame and with a center image around which the rest of the picture aligns. Tibetan monks and Navajo Indian healers alike use Mandalas in healing and centering rituals. Mandalas represent Balance and the organized coherence and integration of what might otherwise be considered disjoint or even chaotic elements or forces. To Jung, his Red Book mandalas represented the “integration” of archetypal energies within his own Psyche or Soul as he came into greater understanding of their presence and significance.  This process of integrating archetypal energy forms is crucial within Jung’s broader psychological theory of Individuation which he developed more completely after completing his Red Book ‘Descent’ and reemergence.

Jung’s Red Book mandalas—which I can link to only indirectly here so as not to infringe on copyrights—are an excellent form of totemic representation. They served to literally ILLUMINATE the shadowy unconscious forms that might appear in Carl Jung’s dreams and reveries. The process of arranging these archetypal images in Mandala forms revealed the deeper significance of these forms to Jung; it represented the integrationof their MEANINGS within Jung’s holistic understanding of his own Psyche or Self.

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I certainly recommend reading Jung’s Red Book (there is a new Readers’ Edition available that makes this precious gem more accessible and affordable). Even more,I encourage you to engage in an ‘active imagination’ exploration of your own archetypal depths. In Life Paths–also in the next year of this blog that will begin in a couple of weeks from now— I’ll be offering an Archetype Dialogue process to help you discover aspects of your own unconscious archetypal influences that can be thought of as your own ensemble cast of archetypal Ally characters.

For now, though, I invite you to create a MANDALA to represent your LIFE DREAM. Place an image that represents your GOAL ACHIEVED (how you will feel or what your life will be like when you have fully integrated your Life Dream into your daily reality) in the center of a blank page. Around this Life Dream image, place other images or words and phrases to represent significant aspects of this Dream or representing the steps you can take to manifest your Life Dream.  You can refer to last week’s “Yellow Brick Road” and “Your Next Step” blog posts to find or develop material to use in filling out your totemic Life Dream Mandala image.

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I welcome your Mandala image or comments!

Your Helpful Archetype Allies

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When I was a senior in high school in New York state (Lewiston, NY), our English professors came up with a great idea for that year.  Called “Universal Man”, the study year was segmented into a series of 3 or 4 week modules each on a different theme. Man the Lover, Man the Prisoner, Man the Seeker, Man the Adventurer, Man the Thinker, etcetera (now it would be Man or Woman…), was the basis of the themes. For each module we would choose relevant literature to read and we would write about it, plus we would reflect on that aspect of our own lives as well. Only many years later would I come to appreciate that these themes were “archetypal” in nature.  I really enjoyed that year’s English program. It helped me see how all these threads or energies interweave within everyone, giving us special qualities from each perspective.

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Each archetypal character MODE has a unique viewpoint and stance in our overall Psyche. Some are more active and others are more suppressed, depending on the situation or context. This week I am inviting you to choose one of your own archetypal sub-selves to get to know better and to enlist in your adventure toward achieving a meaningful life goal. Since goals are usually related to some active role or career that we are already engaged with, let’s begin by selecting a goal associated with a role with which we are highly identified at this time. (For example, for me right now, it is my Writer/Author role that carries the most poignant goal; that of publishing LIFE PATHS.) So, after identifying your ardent goal related to some active role in your life, you can then identify an archetypal member (or more than one) from your unconscious ‘ensemble cast’ that could be most helpful aligning with you as you advance toward realizing your goal.

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I will repeat Sunday’s lineup of archetypal character modes below. Which of these is most closely connected with the Role and Goal you are interested in strengthening?

Elder Leader: Strength mode—strong authority figure, self-confidence, director, leader; Shadow mode—harsh authoritarian, strict, imposing

Lover: In Strength—romantic intimacy, self-sacrificing, passionate; In Shadow—over-attachment, selfish desires

Warrior: In Strength—fighter for a good cause, courage, blazing new paths; In Shadow—attacker, domination or exertion of power

Nurturer: In Strength–Caregiver, gentleness, supporter, giver of consolation or understanding; In Shadow—stingy, over-protective, undue worrier

Artist: In Strength—expressive, talented performer/artist, creative, innovator; In Shadow—blocked creativity, inhibited, introversion, negative fantasy

Idealist: In Strength—High ideals, far-ranging vision, traveler, manifesting change; In Shadow—frustration, feelings of persecution, criticism, over-perfectionism

Golden Child: In Strength—charismatic, mover and shaker, destined for success, generous with largesse; In Shadow—overly controlling, vain, needs to be onstage or center of attention, fickle

Descender: In Strength—introspective, reflective, thoughtful, cocooning; In Shadow—depression, self-restriction, hiding, avoidance, introversion

Teacher: In Strength—imparts knowledge with enthusiasm, studious researcher, reader, notetaker, patient instructor, coach; In Shadow—overly didactic, my way or the highway, micro-manager, overbearing

Communicator: In Strength—public speaker, writer/author, workshop presenter, interpersonal communicator, promoter, a good listener; In Shadow—tight-lipped, withholding viewpoint, holding ideas close to chest, suspicious, or overly extroverted, “rabble rouser”

Healer: In Strength—doctor or nurse, concern with diet and exercise, natural energy, implementing positive change; In Shadow—masochism, perpetuating pain or sense of fatalism

Mystic: In Strength—seeker, prayerful, contemplation or meditation, dreamer, focus on cosmos, monk-like, alchemy; In Shadow—addictive personality, dwelling in Darkness, isolated hermit, withdrawn

Have you identified one or more potential character allies? Next then, I invite you to engage with this archetypal aspect-of-Self in an active imagination and/or in a journaling DIALOGUE. Get to know this energetic part of yourself. What are his or her own goals for you? What are their greatest loves, fears, worries, hopes? How and when do they show up for you? How are they part of the ROLES you enact day to day? When and why do you sometimes suppress them or why do they sometimes retreat?

How can they help you to realize your Goal?

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As a sample, while I find many of the 12 archetypes have qualities essential to my current goals as a writer/author, I want to get to know The Healer better this week, because I think that is a part of myself to which I do not give enough room overall in my life. I catch from the character description that Healer can be helpful with “implementing positive change” and has a quality of “natural energy”. I feel the need for a second wind lately to help circumvent some of my own habitual self-limiting attitudes. So I seek out HEALER as an ALLY on this leg of my journey.

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First then, dive Down into the Deeps of your personal unconscious realms. Do not expect your archetypal sub-selves to necessarily come “up” to your world of consciousness to meet with you. You can use an active contemplation or meditation mode to “sink” into an imagistic realm that you share with your archetypal cast.

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LW: Is one I can call Healer present here? Can we talk?

H: I am here.  How are you?

LW: Worried. I feel like I’ve been sabotaging myself lately; I need a dose of some positive self-confidence for taking the next big—or small—step. I am scared.

H: Why then is it me you seek help from? Why not some of the Others? Elder Leader or Artist, or Descender even?

LW: I feel I need your Healing energy to help me assuage self-doubt in order for me to be more empowered to communicate from a greater strength of awareness.

H: Who injured you? When?

LW: Wow! You are right, this goes way back to my father and others who led me to inhibit or to subdue my sense of confidence in life overall. Better to stay in the shadows they would tell me. Be silent; don’t make waves. The world will beat you down if you stick your neck out, they would say.

H: There is more. What did your father say that inhibits you so deeply? He is down here still you know, both as what you call Shadow and as Strength. Do you want to see him?

LW: …not right now. I remember several disparaging remarks, most of which I don’t want to include in the public blog…so I’ll reflect upon them privately instead.

H: What do you need a healing for then?

LW: For hiding from him all these years—or the Shadow side of him. I am still grateful for the rest and I know he ‘meant well’ and had his own dragons affecting him.

H: What do you need from me?

LW: Just to be with me as I forgive him. To be my Ally as I take a step to communicate ‘forward’ this week. I need you to acknowledge the purpose I aim to fulfill with this goal.

H: Many others can benefit; the time has come to release this child of yours into the world.

LW: Will you mid-wife then?

H: Yes if you will allow me to.

LW: Please.

H: Then remember to BREATHE, okay? Breathe and review where things are at. Breathe and communicate forward.

Enough from me. I hope that the process is clear for how you can engage with your own archetypal parts of Self. I invite you to do so. Identify a goal that matters to a role you seek to strengthen in your life right now. Identify an archetypal part of Self that could help you. Get to know that archetypal persona and invite that one to serve as an Ally.

I encourage and look forward to YOUR insights and STORIES!