It’s a calm, dark early morning, the sun’s light completely obscured by dense clouds. The rain will arrive soon. Jan and I are reading the Visions seminars, March 2, 1932, as Jung discusses sealing up the projection-making factor of the psyche, the animus for women, the anima for men.
Having just completed the final touches on my previous blog, The Heart of Habit, Jung’s discussion clearly points to the next level of methodology to achieve self-knowledge, the step beyond avidya, the repetitive pattern of habit. Jung points to the science of alchemy, where the animus or anima is sealed tightly into a cauldron or retort, its energy and influence separated from actual reality, whereby freeing us to see the true nature of things devoid of the filters of opinions and moods that the projective-making factor normally shrouds the objective world with.
Jungs allusion here to alchemy actually mirrors psychotherapy, where the patient learns to not be controlled by the opinions and moods that generally overtake conscious perception and action. In therapy, the ego learns to differentiate itself from these automatic reactions and in that restraining process ultimately achieves release from the hold these deeper anima and animus entities generally exert upon daily life.
As Jan and I ponder the pragmatics of this transformative process, we suddenly notice a hunched up raccoon scamper across our yard and then climb up a pine tree. This is startling because although many animals find their way to our little sanctuary this is the first sighting of a raccoon on the grounds. Of course, we immediately seek the meaning of this synchronicity. What is the relationship between the alchemical retort holding the energized projection-making character in the psyche and the raccoon? Could the behavior of the raccoon be nature’s practical guide to this transformation?
The most striking feature of a raccoon is its mask. When we put on a mask we create secrecy, we hide a part of ourselves from public view and in turn we stalk a different personality. The Shamans of Ancient Mexico considered the art of stalking, the ability to fully embody another personality, a critical exercise in fluidity, a necessary skill to achieve freedom in the ever-changing worlds of infinity. In addition, when we outwardly live the mask we wear, we completely seal the container of the projective-making factor within our personality; we remove if from active influence over our lives.
This sealed alchemical retort, containing a powerful energetic part of ourselves, is then allowed its own transformative milieu within the sensory deprivation container of the self. Deprived of outside involvement and influence it loses its compulsive outwardly-directed fixation and crystalizes into a character that can take us deeper into the inner recesses of our being directly, as opposed to its former function of projecting those inner contents onto the outer world and drawing us into compulsive outwardly-seeking behaviors. This opens the door to direct inner relationship with the unconscious, largely removing its obscured projections from being acted upon in the outside world.
The key to raccoon’s success is its secrecy. The key to release from compulsion via raccoon medicine is to bottle up the compulsion and keep it completely secret from the rest of the self. The outer mask we then stalk life with completely avoids any contact with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the desired object. They are not indulged in in any way, as all attention and energy is focused on stalking another being, another way of being.
Eventually—and raccoon medicine requires a lengthy time period of at least 5 months—the energetics of the compulsion in the sealed retort will begin to crystalize into an inner guide, an inner helper that will take one to the deeper riches within the self.
Thank you, “Rocky Raccoon” for imparting the wisdom of your medicine for those ready for the inner secrecy and outer mask of transformation and self-knowledge.