Tag Archives: individuation

#724 Chuck’s Place: “Seeing” with Jung: Prelude to Encounter

When the seers of ancient Mexico scanned the human body with their “seeing eye” they saw thousands of vortexes of twirling energy.* From this vantage point they discovered that we humans are physically comprised of countless individualistic energy fields functioning as an integrated unit.

Carl Jung discovered that the human psyche is similarly comprised of many complexes: segregated, individualistic sub-personalities, many of whom, though they co-exist in the psyche, remain unaware of the existence of each other. For Jung the dominant problem for modern Western civilization is its near total reliance on one complex within the psyche, that is, the ego complex. In fact, the rationally dominated modern ego complex dismisses, denies, and remains deeply alienated from the greater part of the psyche, appropriately called the unconscious. The vast majority of mental illness and world strife can be traced to this imbalanced condition within the human psyche.

The seers of ancient Mexico saw death as the unifying moment when all separate energy fields of the body become one energy. Jung discovered a method he termed individuation, that enabled the ego to embark on a journey of interaction and synthesis with all its opposing parts, to arrive at a place of psychic wholeness and equilibrium.

Jung himself undertook an intensive journey of self-discovery with his inner complexes or parts, as documented in the recently published primary source: The Red Book. Jung recorded the dialogue between his ego or conscious personality with complexes or characters within his psyche who spoke back to him autonomously with their own voices. Jung later termed this technique active imagination.

Through these dialogues, some of which were intense confrontations, Jung learned many things. He discovered that we have complexes inside our psyches that we acquire during our lifetime as well as complexes that we inherit. In his dialogues Jung spoke to figures from the Middle Ages who possessed ancient knowledge and wisdom and spoke in the vernacular of that time. From these experiences Jung determined that the unconscious was both personal and collective, of this life and beyond.

Jung also discovered that some complexes are quite powerful and can exert a strong effect on the ego. For instance, one complex with a female voice repeatedly attempted to seductively convince Jung that he was a great artist. Jung sternly refused this suggestion, stating in return that his use of art was part of his process of self-discovery. Jung realized how easy it could be for the naive, insecure ego to come under the sway of complexes with their own agendas, attempting to commandeer the ego through bolstering its self-importance. This became the basis of his understanding conditions such as psychic inflation and deflation, or in their extremes, mania and depression.

Inflation is a condition where the ego identifies with a complex, becomes greater than it truly is, and embarks on behaviors driven by the interests of the complex. In deflation the ego feels utterly diminished by an encounter with a complex, shrinking into powerlessness and depression.

Jung realized that his ego had to maintain control as he encountered these powerful complexes or sub-personalities within himself. To do this his ego had to be receptive to listening to points of view and potential truths that challenged completely his conscious attitude. He committed to honest reflection upon these views and submitted to change when he discovered his ego attitude to be limited. However, he refused to automatically accept any new truth without a scrutinous conscious processing.

Ultimately, Jung’s encounters with the perspectives of different complexes modified his personality in a new synthesis with a vastly broadened awareness. This enlarged consciousness was not an inflation, that is, an ego identification with a sub-personality. To the contrary, this new synthesis represents a reconciliation of many opposing parts of the self. The ego, in this new synthesis, accepts its relative but important place as the center of consciousness but not the center of the personality. The ego accepts its role as mediator of the greater forces of the self, with definite challenges to take on in this life. The ego acknowledges that it is not lord and master of the personality but, as a complex with consciousness, is charged with learning the truths of the self and acquiescing to the appropriate needs and expectations of the total self.

In a future blog I will explore in more detail the technique of active imagination. The necessary prerequisites to its practice are to be gleaned from Jung’s personal journey. Engaging directly the unknown self, or the unknown not-self, requires definite safety precautions.

1. The ego self must be ready to engage in dialogue with an entity or a complex within the self that is not part of the ego. Don’t underestimate how tightly the ego holds to the security of seeing itself as the whole personality. We must be ready to accept and make room for the Not I.

2. The ego must stay present and insist on consciousness remaining in control during interactions with other parts of the self. Sub-personalities are allowed a voice, but not a take-over coup of the personality.

3. The ego, with its growing knowledge and awareness, must not identify with any entity; that is, it must not see itself bigger than its humble ego self because of its ability to have contact with other entities or their influences. This would be inflation. Nor must it allow itself to turn over power and guidance of the personality to any entity, no matter how benevolent or helpful. The ego must ultimately take personal responsibility for all decisions. We are in this life to live it, grow from it, and learn from it. We are not here to turn our life over to another. This is an evasion of responsibility and ultimately a predatory arrangement, no matter who the entity is. In contrast, acquiescing to the higher power of the self, or spirit, is a decision rooted in consciousness, a decision based upon the resonance the ego feels in its encounter with spirit. This is not an evasion of responsibility but an acceptance of the appropriate ego position in relation to spirit. In simple terms, this is the ego assuming its proper role in alignment with the total personality versus going off on its own agenda or turning its life over to the control of another.

With these prerequisites in place we are ready to journey deeper into self and beyond, in interactions with infinity.

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

* Paraphrased from Carlos Castaneda’s Magical Passes, page 91.

NOTE: Books mentioned in this blog are available in our Store.

#712 Chuck’s Place: Chuck—The Capitalist?

In a dream, I find myself working diligently on the renovation of a living room. In the center of the room is a round pool, actually the replica of a small 36″ deep pool that Jan and I put in the backyard this year. I am concerned about the cover being firmly in place, sealed, to allow the heat to be retained in the pool. Along one wall of the room I meet a man from India, studiously reading. I am aware that he is brilliant. I ask him a question. His answer goes way over my head, but I stare as if I am following him. He has advice for me: Just focus on inputting things, like into a computer. Next he tells me he appreciates the Capitalists. I am taken a bit aback and ask: “What about Gandhi, wasn’t he a God?”

“Oh yes, he replied, “he too was a God.” And then, affectionately, he puts his arm around me and talks about the history of other Capitalists, whom I’d never heard of.

I awaken, immediately recognizing the mandala in my dream: the circle of the pool in the square of the room. It was Jung who identified the mandala as the archetypal symbol of the SELF. I understood, with the appearance of the mandala, that I was being offered specific guidance about my own individuation process, that is, the completion and fulfillment of my true self in this life. But, what was I being shown?

Become a Capitalist?! I don’t think so!! Improve my computer skills? True, they are not so hot, but is that really what my deepest self wants me to work on?

As I contemplated this dream over breakfast, I appreciated the alchemical symbol of the tightly sealed pool—a container with rising heat. That is exactly the theme I wrote about last week, Bearing the Tension. Then, all of a sudden, I thought about what had preoccupied me the night before. I had opened an old file that Jeanne and I had kept from our early days in Tensegrity, back in the mid-1990s, of experiences and newsletters and publications from that time. I was struck by comments that Carlos and his female cohorts (Carol, Taisha, and Florinda) had made about don Juan’s world. They could not stress enough don Juan’s contention that the seers’ world was full of practicalities geared toward achieving definite results. They disputed any spiritual, intangible dimension to his world.

That night, I recapitulated how both the impact of the shaman’s world and Jeanne’s death had delivered me to a level of detachment that has made it impossible for me to be satisfied with the goals of an ordinary life in this world. I don’t say this from a place of self-importance; it is simply a fact, a major shift in my life. I know that I am a being who is going to die and preparation to enter that mystery is the central focus of my life. Constructs of romance and family, the things that keep us most attached to this world, though once very important have given way to a new reality. Love has deepened and become far more inclusive, appreciative of the shared journey we are all on. I attribute this shift largely to the accrual of energy previously spent on specialized attachments.

As I read through an old interview that Carlos gave to the magazine Uno Mismo, Chile and Argentine, February 1997 by Daniel Trujillo Rivas, my attention was drawn to the following question and answer:

Q: What’s the aim of you not allowing yourself to be photographed, having your voice recorded or making your biographical data known?

A: With reference to photographs and personal data, the other three disciples of don Juan and myself follow his instructions. For a shaman like don Juan, the main idea behind refraining from giving personal data is very simple. It is imperative to leave aside what he called ” personal history”. To get away from the “me” is something extremely annoying and difficult. What shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal “me” does not count. He believed that an absence of photographs and biographical data affects whomever enters into this field of action in a positive though subliminal way. We are endlessly accustomed to using photographs, recordings and biographical data, all of which spring from the idea of personal importance….

For the seers of don Juan’s lineage encounters with infinity and preparation to enter it in full awareness was the central goal of their lives. To achieve this they discovered that you needed energy, plain and simple. Those seers determined that the number one waste of energy in human life is self-importance. That is why Carlos remained so anonymous, refusing both photos and recordings. In today’s world we might consider the world wide obsession with facebook as reflecting perhaps the number one drain of energy: obsession with self-importance.

As I continued to look through the old file the other evening I also came across some questions posed to the women seers, one of which drew my attention—from an interview with Florinda, Taisha and Carol by Concha Labarta from an article in Mas Alla, April 1, 1997, Spain:

Q: It seems that the key to expanding our capabilities for perception lies in the amount of energy we have at our disposal, and that the energetic condition of modern man is very meager. What would be the essential premise for storing energy? Is this possible for someone who has to take care of a family, go to work every day, and participate fully in the social world? And what about celibacy as a way of saving energy, one of the most controversial points in your books?

A: Celibacy is recommended, the old nagual told us, for the majority of us. Not for moral reasons, but because we don’t have enough energy. He made us see how the majority of us have been conceived in the midst of marital boredom. As a pragmatic sorcerer, the old nagual maintained that conception is something of final importance. He said that if the mother wasn’t able to have an orgasm at the moment of conception, the result was something he called “a bored conception.” There is no energy under such conditions. The old nagual recommended celibacy for those who have been conceived under such circumstances.

Another thing he recommended as a means of storing energy was the dissolution of patterns of behavior that lead to chaos, such as the incessant preoccupation with romantic courtship; the presentation and defense of the self in everyday life; excessive routines and, above all, the tremendous insistence on the concerns of the self.

If these points are achieved, any one of us can have the necessary energy to use time, space and the social order more intelligently.

I am struck by the thought, how many people would be willing to ask their mothers if they orgasmed when they were conceived?! I think it is fair to say that many of us were conceived outside of orgasm and did not inherit a large storehouse of energy. Tensegrity practitioners always challenge the suggestion of celibacy as a means to store energy. It is a personal choice. But the women seers do suggest other practices to revamp and accrue energy, namely, recapitulation, freeing oneself from incessant patterns i.e. groundhog days, whether they be romantic preoccupations or otherwise, and elimination of self-importance.

Finally, back to my dream. It suddenly dawned on me that my deepest self was urging me to continue to input energy into my pool. That is, to contain it, store it, and let it accrue. My Indian guru guide encouraged me to become a Capitalist—the ultimate symbol of the energy miser: he who amasses vast sums of money (energy) for himself. The practices of the seers’ world are all geared to the very pragmatic goal of retrieving and storing one’s vital energy toward the ultimate goal of taking the definitive journey in infinity as an energetic being in full awareness.

My Indian guru is encouraging me to continue to input, that is, to store my energy. This is the path to my fulfillment, completion, and INTENT to enter the mystery fully prepared. I am simply blown away by the continual juxtaposition of Carl Jung’s and don Juan’s guidance in my life, both in dreams and waking dreams.

P.S.: I walked in the door from work and Jan greeted me with an anxious: “We have a serious issue to address.” A call had just come in from Citibank. Apparently, a suspicious donation to an Indian mission of some 299,000 Rupees had been charged to our credit card. I immediately called a Citibank service representative. I spoke to Rajeesh, I suspect a highly educated Indian of advanced computer skills, working from India for an outsourced division of Citibank. He calmly and warmly reassured me, as if he had his arm around me, that this matter would be straightened out, at no charge… Such is the humor of the synchronistic universe we live in!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

#663 Chuck’s Place: The Hen, the Egg & the Golden Psyche

The alchemists, like the ancient Chinese sages who created The I Ching, studied nature to discover the fundamental process at the heart of transformation. They focused on the hen and the egg. Within the egg lies a composition of primordial liquid. Encapsulating this liquid is a tough boundary, a shell. Sitting upon the egg and providing the heat for transformation rests the hen. Thus, the combination of these three elements —prima materia, a sealed container, and heat— yields a transformation of life from liquid prima materia to a solid living chick.

Modeled upon these principles, the alchemists set up their personal laboratories in an attempt to transform prima materia into gold. Jung discovered that the procedures and findings of the alchemists mirrored his own discoveries of the inner workings of the human psyche in its quest for wholeness.

In his own research, through psychotherapy, Jung discovered that the boundaries of the human psyche far exceed that which our conscious personality is aware of. In fact, he discovered that most of what we truly are is largely unknown or unconscious to us. What we know inside ourselves as I, is but one fragment, albeit important (!), of a much greater whole. For Jung, the major purpose in human life is to seek and unify our fragments, to become whole in a complete sense; joining known and unknown parts in a process he termed individuation. Individuation is the alchemical equivalent of creating the gold and, like alchemy, has the psychic equivalence of prima materia in the form of fragments, a sealed container in the form of a clearly defined psyche with boundaries, and heat, which is generated through the containment and amalgamation of one’s fragments into a unified whole. The heat is the intense emotional pressure generated through containing the oppositions inherent in our fragments. Individuation is the outcome of this transformative process where these fragments peacefully coalesce into a unified whole in full consciousness.

The first step in the process is to know our parts. What are they?! Where are they?! The part we know the best is our ego self. It consists of consciousness, attitudes, beliefs, skills, and psychic functions that come most naturally to us, and that we find most acceptable to the world. Then there are those parts of us, those tricksterish parts —feelings, thoughts— so unacceptable to our egos and the outside world that we repress them into the shadow, the darkness within. Then there is our deeply instinctual self —sexual and aggressive energies— that, in our highly refined, civilized self may remain deeply inaccessible to our conscious life. Beyond this, we house the burdens of our families and ancestors and the traits of our genetic line, as well as the archetypal patterns common to the entire human race, at its core. All these parts, many of which we are completely unaware of, exist and influence our moods, thoughts, actions, and reactions in daily life.

Then, of course, there is the multitude of projected aspects of our self, lodged in people, places, and things in the outside world to which we are fully unaware. The first challenge of individuation is to sift through the prima materia, to collect and own the elements of the self, both within and without. We must distinguish the I from the Not I if we are ever to arrive at the boundary of the self, which is our psychic container, our egg, our hermetic vessel.

As we develop the moral courage and psychic stamina to take ownership of our parts, however shameful, frightening, fragile, or unacceptable they may be, we contain them within and clearly define the circle around the self. This is the process of sifting through the prima materia as we withdraw our projections and shed light upon our shadow, holding firmly to what is truly ours. In the process, we may discover “alien parts” that have found their way into our psychic structures, clearly not I. These may be the archetypes, which have so much energy that they can burst through our boundaries and take possession of our egos. These represent forces that we can and must interact with, be schooled and nourished by. However, we must clearly not allow them to take up residence within the boundaries of the self, as they are liable to create distorted ideas of who we are, or create compulsions that we cannot understand, or terrify us with frightening thoughts and images.

In honor of the Lenten season, I refer here to the process Christ underwent in the desert, drawing his line or circle in the sand, casting out the devils, the Not I, from the boundaries of his Self. The shamans teach a magical pass called the lifesaving pass where you stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms extended straight down at a forty-five degree angle away from the body, and swinging from side to side, with hips remaining facing front, allow the upper torso and arms to swing back and forth in a circular motion, using the downward pointed hands to carve a complete circle around the self, which seals in one’s energy. One can also create a circle by sitting calmly on the floor or the ground and make a circle around the body with whatever seems resonant. Within that circle bring objects that symbolize all the known parts of the self, including the most contentious. Representations of compulsions, emotions, beliefs about the self that do not belong within the self should be cast outside of the circle. One might include as well a candle within the circle, representing both the heat and the light of consciousness, which sits like mother hen upon her egg. The psyche itself presents images of circles in dreaming to indicate prima materia that should be included within the boundaries of the self for our contemplation. Watch for those discarded pennies in the streets of your dreams!

The containment function of our hermetic vessel is completed with a seal, a hermetic seal. We seal our psyche by holding onto our parts in full awareness, despite, at times, our excruciating discomfort with the emotions they might generate, such as deep sadness, shame, rage, hate, and, yes, even love. Love often escapes our hermetic seal in a projection of weekend blissful love, spent upon our newly discovered god/goddess, only to have us wake up Monday morning, once again disappointed and deeply disillusioned. We might have been better served containing this energy, which seeks unification within the psyche, in our internal alchemical process of transformation, resulting in deeper self-love.

The containment of the powerful emotions of our opposing parts seek to burst apart the container through the outlets of projection, distraction, acting out, and general self-delusionment. The ability to hold the truths, with all their energies within, is the key here. Let us appreciate the patience of the hen sitting calmly upon her egg.

Finally, the heat. The heat is generated by our ability to keep the container sealed, following the guidance of mother hen. To accept and retain the unacceptable in the self, perhaps choosing not to open another kind of bottle to soothe the tension within, or perhaps to decide not to gossip with a friend about an “unacceptable other,” is to remain calm and patient, presiding over and containing within the facts and energies of the self. This process of bearing the tensions of those inner oppositions results, and here is the magic, in the transformation of our inner fragments into psychic gold.

And what might that gold look and feel like?: True self acceptance, calmness, compassion, removal of another veil as the crutch of another illusion is dismissed, a deeper alignment with and knowing of the true self, and the readiness to enter a relationship from a position of wholeness. This hermetic transformation is the birth of the chick, the inner child of innocence, freed of the tensions of the old oppositions, ready to enter new life.

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

#654 Chuck’s Place: The Heart of Romance: Solutio

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day of ROMANCE! Romance is an innate, quick-acting solvent, capable of dissolving boundaries, with the promise of blissful union. Ultimately, romance engages us in a process of projection where we encounter both our inner blockages and ideals in the reflection of our beloved. The challenge in romance is to truly individuate, that is, to overcome our inner resistances and be available to love, versus seeking resolution through changes in our projected reflection in the other, for instance, trying to overcome a deep sense of unlovability through our lover’s convincing us that we are lovable, by their unrelenting, adoring attention, yet never truly believing this within, remaining compulsively bound to our lover’s reassurances.

We are all born from solution. Our bodies gradually coagulate and differentiate as we float blissfully in the ocean of the womb. Leaving the womb is hardly a blissful experience. Some have suggested that birth is indeed the primal trauma. Like the expulsion from the Garden, nature forcefully separates the babe from its creator. Our search for love as romance, throughout life, is our deep craving to recapture our primal oneness, wholeness with nature and creator.

The opus of the alchemists was to restore matter, the stone, to its prima materia, solution, the womb, where it could coagulate and be reborn as gold, wholeness. Our challenge in life is to discover and dissolve our hardnesses, our stones: our traumas, defenses, resistances, fears, that we might be reborn a unified whole, capable of true love.

Romance is the most powerful human solvent. In romance, all boundaries dissolve as we merge in magical oneness with our beloved. Most of the images of romance depict solution: champagne, wine, hot tubs, warm pools, clear lakes, waterfalls, ocean waves, warm sandy beaches, cruises, etc. These images of solution return the couple to their womblike origins as they are swept into blissful union. Or at least that’s the promise!

There are some drawbacks to this most desirable and rapid solvent, romance. The morning after often tends to not be so blissful. Aside from a potential hangover, the light of day and the differentiated clarity it offers can shed incredible doubt upon last night’s beloved. Nonetheless, the underlying drive for union is so great that romance eagerly and rapidly projects its golden glow upon yet an other, this time, hopefully, the right other. There is a vast pool of others, many fish in the sea, to project upon.

Often the chosen other reflects an old blockage, a stone in the heart, a frozen experience from the past where great expectation resulted in deep disappointment that shut down the heart. In this case, the golden lover, an obvious wrong choice to the eyes of objective friends or family, is the necessary mistake, the necessary obsession, an attempt to project, encounter and dissolve the old blockage, to once again allow love to flow. This strategy rarely succeeds, as union with this beloved other, in reality, is often most inappropriate, i.e., they are too old, too brutal, too immature, incapable of commitment, incapable of loving, etc. After many successive romantic failures we might, through a depression, be ready to turn inward and begin the opus of dissolution of the stone at its source, within the heart, in the process of recapitulation and individuation. Despite its promise, romance cannot supply a quick fix for necessary deep inner work.

The other major concern with solutio is drowning. The difference between finally being able to cry, to grieve over a loss and break down a long held blockage versus drowning in a pool of tears protesting birth and change, is the difference between floating in preparation for rebirth and clinging to and drowning in the womb, seeking wholeness only in primal unconscious union and oblivion. This is the difference between the child finding nurturance in new life versus the child clinging to the placenta, union through conscious individuation versus unconscious union. The object of the opus is rebirth, to dissolve and resolve, to be born anew, whole. This is the birth that includes consciousness, separateness, and the ability to be whole as separate, to drop separate boundaries and unite with another, yet be able to return to “separateness in wholeness.” Isn’t this the ultimate romance, love without possession, love without clinging; partners, separate and whole, together on a journey?

And so, Happy Valentine’s Day. Whether it be a time of hope with a New Valentine or a time of rebirth with an Old Valentine, just remember to find the greatest love of all, inside of me!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,

#650 Chuck’s Place: The Wise Ancestral Self

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.

We are born into this world with bodies fully formed and constructed via ancient programs of evolutionary successes and, yet, our minds begin as blank slates, orphans of our ancestral parentage. What an apparent contradiction! This is the dominant scientific perspective and, in fact, the experience of most people with the birth of consciousness, or the ego, in early childhood.

This birth of awareness, of “I,” a separate self, is at once exciting and overwhelming. Excitement comes from discovering the freedom and power of autonomy and choice. Fear springs from the awareness that our newly discovered “I” is small and inadequate, hardly capable of caring for itself in a powerful world it neither understands nor can control.

This birth of consciousness is the moment of eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The punishment for awareness of a separate self is banishment from the garden, and the charge to the ego, that separate self, is to “go it alone,” despite its inadequacy and lack of preparation. Our banishment, the birth of the ego, is our separation from our wise ancestral self. We become a blank slate, seeking, with desperate extraverted eyes, to fill our egos with knowledge, gained from trial and error or formal education, to be capable of occupying a space in this world, with some sense of legitimacy, orphans that we are. This is the plight of the ego, alienated from its wise ancestral self.

We spend the better part of the first half of life struggling to find our place in this world. We seek to discover our talents, our callings, where we belong. We burn through many false starts, trial and error careers and marriages, all the while accumulating more knowledge and clarity of who we “really are.” Regardless of our successes and failures in life, at the deepest level, we remain orphans, at best very adequate, well adapted, successful orphans, but, underneath, aware of a void. For some, this void is a deep sense of inadequacy, while for others it presents as a deep spiritual longing. Jung would identify it as the challenge of individuation, where the ego accepts its rightful but relative place as part of the all-encompassing wise ancestral self.. That wise ancestral self is present and functioning throughout our lives, it is our true guardian angel.

For example, years ago, as I stood alone on a beach in Jamaica, forcibly loading my spear gun, I inadvertently stabbed the back of the spear deep into my palm. (I wrote about this experience in The Book of Us, but I am presenting a different perspective on it this time around.) At that moment, I fainted; my ego vanished. It was overwhelmed; it knew not what to do. When my ego woke up, I returned to consciousness: I was sitting on the beach with my palm packed in a lump of wet sand. The bleeding had been fully contained and coagulated; the wound was completely sterile and healing. Who did that? Who knew exactly what to do without any intervention of consciousness? No one else was on the beach, and my ego was fully asleep.

In another example, years after that, I was driving alone very late at night northbound on the Taconic State Parkway. I fell completely asleep. When I woke up I was driving, properly, in the southbound lanes of the Taconic State Parkway! Mind you, I was not drunk, in some kind of blackout state. I’d simply fallen completely asleep. Who took over the wheel and had the sense of humor to make me grapple with the fact that I had somehow successfully made a U-turn while my ego was asleep!

These are dramatic examples that, for me, illustrate the background activity of the wise ancestral self that operates on our behalf, fully independent of our ego awareness. Yes, we think we are orphans but, the truth is, our wise ancestral self is always participating in our lives. The real issue is whether the ego is in alignment with this wise ancestral self or completely at odds with it. Psychological symptoms, such as compulsions or compulsive projections, as well as physical illnesses often reflect interventions by our wise ancestral self to influence the decisions and actions of our alienated egos. I give the following hypothetical example, using a sexual compulsion. This is not a judgment about the type of sexual play enacted in S & M play. I assume here that my hypothetical client is disturbed by their compulsion. For example, this client might be an executive with an extremely powerful, dominant personality in the world, with a lot of control over others but possessed by a strong masochistic sexual compulsion. In this case, the wise ancestral self saddles them with a compulsion that attempts to deflate a power-hungry ego by compelling it to walk around on all fours with a collar around its neck, obeying the commands of a dominatrix. If this individual can rein in its alienated inflated ego and become humble, by assuming its rightful but modest place as part of a greater whole within the psyche, then the wise ancestral self could lift the compulsion and allow balance to be restored.

The introvert has the advantage of direct contact with the wise ancestral self because the primary focus is the inner subjective experience whereas the extravert focuses outside the self, giving primacy to the object. The introvert has direct access to the thoughts and feelings of the wise ancestral self who communicates in both images and words. The artist frequently receives the images and expresses them on a canvas or in other form. For those inclined to words, there is verbal communication with various parts of the wise ancestral self. Jung called this active imagination, where the ego volitionally communicates with the greater psyche to better understand its message or point of view. Channeling, at a certain level, is written or verbal contact with parts of the individual psyche or wise ancestral psyche, what Jung called the collective unconscious. At the deepest level, channeling is communication beyond the psyche and the confines of this world.

Dreaming is a daily dance with the greater psyche. Every time we write down a dream and feel and contemplate the characters and the situations in our dreams we are connecting with and seeking greater alignment with our deeper wise ancestral self. When I write down a dream, I structure it like a poem. For example, recently, I had the following dream:

My younger son was about nine years old, and was a DJ.
His dilemma was, how to get rides to his jobs.
I offered to take him to a particular job.
It turned out that he was the DJ for his own birthday party.
I was surprised. I didn’t know about the party.
He told me he had invited Efren, my old therapist.
I thought, “Why would Efren come?”
He didn’t know anyone.

When I first wrote the dream, I was struck by the image of my son spinning 45’s, as well as the interest of my old therapist in attending his birthday party. That was the extent of my dance with my dream. I returned later, continuing to visualize the spinning record. The word circumambulation came into my mind and I researched its meaning. Jung identified the circular process of attempting to find one’s way to the self as an individuation motif, the process of walking a labyrinth; the ego’s circuitous attempts through life to find its way back to the center, to the garden, to the wise ancestral self. As I visualized the needle on the record, going round and round, making its way toward the center, I recognized that my wise ancestral self was pointing me to embrace the innocence symbolized by my young son. This was further highlighted by my old therapist’s interest in going to the party. He had once been the projection of my wise ancestral self by my younger self, then in therapy with him. This continued dance with my dream shifted both my mood and awareness and directly impacted decisions that I made that day.

The challenge for introverts is to value their inner experiences in a world currently dominated by an extraverted prejudice. The challenge for extraverts is to recognize that the outer world becomes the palette for the deeper psyche to guide and alter judgments and actions. Owning projections for the extravert is an important means to dance with the inner images and align with the intent of the wise ancestral self.

In truth, there is no contradiction between psyche and body when we are born into this world, both are connected to their ancestral roots. It remains for the blank slate ego to rediscover its wise ancestral self. For the introvert, this is most accessible within; for the extravert without, via projection, but no one is a pure introvert or extravert. With a little effort, extraverts can dance with their dreams and introverts recognize their projections.

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,