I'm taking a break from my Jungian Pagan practice series to talk a little about Jungian terminology. Jung is one of the most used andabused thinkers in Pagan discourse. His concepts are frequently misunderstood, both by those who love him and those who hate him. Part of the confusion surrounding Jung is due to his choice of terminology. At times Jung could be very specific about what certain terms did and did not mean, and at other times he seemed to use terms in precisely the way that he said they should not be used. To make matters worse, Jung chose terms that -- at least when translated into English -- are commonly used to mean something very different than what he intended. I want to discuss five Jungian terms which are easily and commonly misunderstood: psychic, energy, self, individuation, symbol, and archetype. In this post, I will address the first two terms: "psychic" and "energy".
Let's start with an easy one: "psychic". Outside of a Jungian context, "psychic" commonly evokes associations with telepathy and telekinesis. But in a Jungian context, the term simply means "of or relating to the psyche". Many Pagans believe in psychic phenomena, so they may misunderstand Jung's use of the term. While Jung did believe in the reality of phenomena which we today would call "psychic", he was not referring to these phenomena when he used the term "psychic". "Psychic" just means something having to do with the psyche.
I must begin this article with a disclaimer. There have been entire books written on each of these ancient symbols, and I cannot presume to include all of the information, or all of the esoteric theories, in these few paragraphs. I propose here to discuss the one theme which they all share in common: each of these figures is a three-tiered representation of the levels of Creation.
1) The first figure is sometimes called the Star of David, but it is not exclusively Jewish; you will see it carved in Hindu temples and used by Rosicrucian alchemists. In actual fact it is not a "star" at all, but two interlacing triangles, one pointing up (symbolizing human aspirations toward the Divine) and the other pointing down (symbolizing the Divine's willingness to meet humankind half way). The space where they intersect indicates the creation of a third state: the moment when Divine Consciousness manifests in human flesh. This is the state of Grace. It is Enlightenment. It is Samadhi.
The sacred triangles represent the union of heaven and earth, spirit and matter. They embody the metaphysical principle, As Above, So Below.
I am learning about using energy in ritual and magic. What is energy supposed to feel like? How do I know I’m doing it right?
Wiccans and Pagans often use the word “energy” to mean the power that emanates from living things, deity, the earth, or all three. Geek that I am, I have likened it more than once to the Force from Star Wars, “It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” I have also likened it to the “qi” or “chi,” the core principle of tai chi and Chinese medicine.
Beginner Wicca and Paganism books—including mine—often include exercises for working with energy. Some of the benefits of doing this are to align with the natural world, to become more attuned to one’s own body, and, eventually, to work magic. It’s also extremely useful for stress management.
My previous post on connecting with Pagan Gods and Goddesses involved seeking to establish relationships with them by becoming involved in ritual Pagan practices where such events happen, and sometimes are even expected to happen. Having such experiences means our spiritual reality roots are directly into our own experience of the more-than-human as not only sacred but also willing to enter into explicit relationship with us. Such encounters are both wonderful and deeply transformative. They also upset our life plans in many cases, although in my experience leaving us ultimately better off than had such things not happened.
But are there easier ways to at least get a sense of this greater reality? Ways where we can be more active in our search?