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Winter Solstice: The Darkness Within

The winter solstice is fast upon us, even though technically the shortest night has already been upon us (for a brain-thumping explanation, see http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/the-astronomical-hijinks-of-the-shortest-day-of-the-year/282109/).  Thoughts turn inwards at this time of year, when in the darkness we are confronted with our shadow selves, should we choose to face them.  We have the opportunity to learn more of ourselves, and in doing so, better serve not only ourselves but the world.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

You don't know Jung ... and it's his own fault.  Jung concepts are frequently misunderstood by Pagans, both by those who love him and those who hate him.  Part of the confusion surrounding Jung is due to his choice of terminology.  Jung chose terms that -- at least when translated into English -- are commonly used to mean something very different than what he intended.  In this series, I discuss five Jungian terms which are easily and commonly misunderstood: psychic, energy, self, individuation, symbol, and archetype.  In this part, we'll talk about "Self".

"Self" is a terrible Jungian term because Jung means it in almost opposite sense in which people commonly use it.  What we usually mean when we speak about our "selves" is our sense of "I", often restricted to our waking consciousness.  What we commonly think of as our self is what Jung called the "ego".  The ego is the central organizing complex of consciousness.  What Jung meant by the "self" was a much broader term.  It is, according to Jung, that "wholeness that transcends consciousness" (CW 9i, P 278) and "the psychic totality of the individual" (CW 11, P 232).  It is what we might call our "True Self", "Deep Self" or "Big Self".  

If the ego is the organizing complex of consciousness, then the True Self is the organizing archetype of the whole psyche, which includes both the conscious and the unconscious.  If the psyche were analogized to the solar system, then True Self would be the Sun and the ego would be the Earth.  The ego and the True Self function very differently; where the ego tends to discriminate and separate, the True Self integrates and seeks the unity of opposites.  

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Halstead, I agree, in general terms, with your broad categories of modern Pagan belief. It was also interesting to learn th

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