I recently came across these five questions posed to "Pagans who believe that the Gods are merely psychological archetypes and are created by the mind of [hu]man[s]." I will answer each in turn. (But first, let me say that I object to prefacing the word psychological with the word "merely" -- something I've written about before here.)
1. Do you believe that the Gods can assist you with anything physical in nature? If so how can the Gods assist you with anything physical in Nature given that they are only psychological?
It feels like spring has finally come to North Texas. The first of our famous wildflowers are finally starting to show in the grasses along the highways, and the sun is blessing us after an uncustomarily dark and cloudy February and March. I'm seeing the first butterflies of the season, too, as the trees and flowers begin to come back. But that fine mist of blue and orange which heralds the emergence of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are what tells me that spring is finally here.
Along with the wildflowers and the butterflies, the Goddess Psyche has come fluttering into my life to remind me to seek the deepest truths of my soul this week. I've loved the myth of Psyche and Cupid since I took Greek Mythology in high school, but have never thought much about Her as a Goddess in her own right. Her message to allow love to transform me, and to seek my most fundamental truths, is a welcome one right now.
Before proceeding to describe the nature of the archetypes, I want to return to the structure of the psyche which I discussed in a previous post. In that post, I depicted the structure of the psyche as an iceberg. Jung describes the psyche using other metaphors, including a building and a plant. Both of these analogies bring the discussion of archetypes down to earth, so to speak. The connection of the archetypes to the earth or to matter is of special interest to earth-centered Pagans.
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".
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".