Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Jungian Analysis & the Archetype of the Divine Child

December 31st, 2008 · archetype, divine child, Jungian, Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology

 

The archetype of the divine child has a particular place in Jungian analysis.  For those from Christian backgrounds, this archetype is exemplified in the narrative of theJungian analysis birth of the infant Jesus amidst all the various threatening circumstances that confronted him forms an important part of this season of the year.

 

The remarkable story of a divine child, apparently so vulnerable and so weak, who survives against all odds made a very compelling impression on me when I was a child.  Despite the harsh and unwelcoming environment, the hostility of the powers that be, and all the forces arrayed against him, the child survives, and even flourishes.

Jungian analysis finds it striking that very many other traditions also have such stories.  We see this in Judaism in the story of the young Moses, and, in the story of Joseph and his brothers.  Similar stories surround the Buddha, Heracles the Greek hero, the Egyptian god Horus and also the Hindu divine avatar Krishna.  In fact, the motif of the Divine Child, in all its various forms, is found around the world.

Jung had some profound things to say about this motif, and about its importance for us in the midst of Infant Laughing for Vibrant Jung Thing Blog our everyday lives here in the modern world.  Divine child is that which appears in our awareness when we least expect it, as the new possibility or potentiality that appears so weak, so powerless that it seems that there can be no possible way for it to survive against the overwhelming odds arrayed against it.  Yet, miraculously, it does survive, and even prevails.

How?  We really don’t know.  But something appears within us, perhaps at the moment when we are nearly ready to despair.  And against all the dictates of rationality, if we are attentive to it, if we are prepared to open ourselves to its reality, its reality becomes our reality: a new way of living that emerges from the ashes of the old in the unconscious.  As Jung would tell us, the alchemists might say, in response to this, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner’, or “That which is ‘smaller than small’ is in reality, ‘larger than large’.”

Among the many figures which may emerge from the unconscious, there is the figure of the divine child.  The child may appear in your dreams.  It may emerge synchronistically in some other way in outer experience.

Have you ever experienced the divine child?

Can you and I be open to this child when he or she appears, as Moses, Krishna, Christ, Buddha, or in some other form unique to our own lives?

I’d be honoured to hear of your dreams, or any other experiences that may have brought you into contact with the reality of the divine child.

Wishing all of you hope, prosperity and authentic, full life on this New Year’s Eve!

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Jingle Bell Shadow: A Jungian View of Holiday Depression and Anxiety

December 21st, 2008 · Anxiety, collective consciousness, depression, depth psychology, Meaning

Almost all therapists experience it: the phone gets more and more hyperactive the closer the calendar gets to December 25.

 

Christmas depression for Vibrant Jung Blog

As the holidays get nearer, more and more people call.

While for many people, the holidays may bring great joy, for many others, they bring a sense of depression, an empty feeling, or even positive anger.

This season of the winter solstice is filled with incredible images of light and optimism.  Paradoxically, it also sheds light on a lot of the darker places in our lives.  Often these are places that we would rather not look at or bring to consciousness.  But growth is to be found in exploring the very places that we would rather not go.

Contrary to the glowing images of togetherness, family and fellowship with which the media bombard us at this time, many people experience intense loneliness during “the holidays”.  These days can be times of real difficulty for many people whose lives don’t fit the conventional patterns adopted by the majority of people.  What is more, people can often get the message that they are “supposed” to be together with others at this time of year, and that there must be something wrong with them if they find themselves alone.  But that is not the case.  Being alone, and even being lonely, is a part of human experience.  It does not imply pathology or blameworthiness, although it can be more than difficult enough to experience it.

On the other hand, just because someone is in a family structure or way of life that looks like the images of “family togetherness” portrayed by the media does not mean that there is any less holiday loneliness or depression in their lives.  Many people have to contend with deep experiences of loneliness right in the midst of their marriages or family relationships.  It can be excruciating lonely to be locked in a relationship with someone who does not see us, who is completely oblivious to our needs, or whom we discover to have values that are 180 degrees away from our own.  Also, for those who have to deal with the reality of betrayal in intimate relationships by those in whom they have previously put their trust, Yuletide with its memories of trusting togetherness can be excruciating in its pain.

For many, it’s not so much that the present reality of the holidays clashes with the warm memories of the past.  For many, the associations with Christmas include terrifying memories such as an alcoholic parent coming home drunk and starting fights, engaging in abuse, or knocking over the Christmas tree.  For others, the pain of the holidays comes from the pain of a childhood sense of expectation that went nowhere.  The child whose sole parent had to working killing hours in the hospitality industry over Christmas Day, and who met each Christmas eve with the expectation of a present or even just close family times that never came to pass often grows up to be an adult with a deep Christmas wound, often expressed in anger, resentment or just plain hatred of the season.

Many people are acutely aware of the deep religious feeling that used Christmas Decorations for Vibrant Jung Blog to characterize the Christian experience of the Christmas season.  Even though they cannot enter into the expressions of faith of the past, or perhaps even of their own youth, they feel that there is something deeply wrong with the sentimentalization, commercialization and overall bad taste that they see in the way that we currently keep the season.

Perhaps there is value for us in reaching back into the human traditions that link us to the ancient rituals of the death and rebirth of the sun at the time of the winter solstice.  For ancient human beings, this season entailed both the awareness of the decline and weakening of the sun, as well as its subsequent renewal.

There is deep psychological truth in this.  If the sun in its light and warmth-giving aspect is to be seen as the truest symbol of the conscious mind, its decline into the darkness of the winter solstice represents the descent of consciousness into the awareness of failure, weakness and brokenness.  This is the shadow journey that the human psyche, like the sun, must make to complete its journey.  It is only in this awareness, and from these ashes, that the upward journey of the sun and of consciousness can begin again.  Similarly, it is only in the awareness of the places of brokenness in our lives and often in the live of the child within us that we can begin to find our way forward again in new hope and in growing, life-giving new awareness.

It is possible to see in holiday depression and anxiety nothing more than a manifestation of the failure and decay of once-meaningful religious rituals.  It is possible then to meet the season with a cynicism that protects us from our own disappointment and sense of loss.  But it is also possible to take in the season with a different kind of more receptive attitude.

This second attitude doesn’t deny the aspects of the shadow that are highlighted by our overly sentimental, overly light celebration of the season.  To recognize the places in our lives where our sun is in decline takes courage.  To believe that new life and new value are to be found just in those very places, where the sense of pain, disillusionment and abandonment are greatest, takes even more.  It takes the courage and hope of the miracle of the re-born sun.

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Anger: Everybody Has It, So What Do We Do With It?

December 9th, 2008 · anger, collective consciousness, depression, depth psychology, Halton Region, Individuation, Jungian psychology, Lifestyle, Mississauga, Oakville, Peel Region, Psychology, Psychotherapy, soul, The Self, Wellness, wholeness

Anger for Vibrant Jung Blog There is no easy way with anger.  It can be one of the most powerful psychological forces that we experience.  As an old song once said, "anger is an energy" — and it can be a force for growth in a person's life, or a source of misery and destruction.

At this time, the problem of dealing with anger is more on our minds in this society than it has surely ever been.  As a society, we really don't know what to do with it.  It is simply symptomatic of our confusion and uncertainty that a major fast food chain has created a major campaign centered around a hamburger called the "Angry Whopper"!

For many people, anger is the unacceptable "taboo" emotion, the one that has no real place in our lives, the one that "decent" or "reasonable" people avoid.  This is a lesson that many of us learned deep in the womb of the family.  When I think of my own upbringing, it is absolutely clear to me that most emotion was suspect, but anger in particular was completely anathema. Anger 2 for Vibrant Jung Blog

There is a trend in modern thinking to isolate anger, to treat it as some intruder in the human psyche or soul.  There is a tendency in much of modern psychology to want to wall anger off and treat it as a specific discreet problem that has only limited connection to the whole of a person's personality.  So we hear a lot about anger management and rage addiction.  This type of term that ignores the fact that a person's anger stems from real issues in the whole of that person's personality.

But those who have to deal with their anger or rage as personal problem know that such emotions are anything but discreet.  When they are in full force, they can often seem to take complete control of the personality, and to be completely in the driver's seat.

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