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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in jung

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Before I discuss tarot as a form of Jungian Pagan practice, I want, in this post, to give a little background about how I approach tarot.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_f10-0413-tarot-deck-inset.jpgTarot, for anyone who does not know, is a deck of cards that derives from a mid-15th century card game called Triumphs, which is the origin of various modern trump card games like Euchre, Bridge, and Hearts.  The tarot card deck resembles the common 52 playing cards used today, with important differences.  There are four suits: Swords, Batons (or Wands), Cups, and Coins (or Pentacles).  In addition to the King and Queen face cards, there is a Knight (which became the Jack) and a Page.  These constitute the court cards, which are also called the Minor Arcana.  In addition, there are 22 trump cards, also called the Major Arcana, with names like the Fool, the Lovers, Death, and the Hanged Man, numbered 0 to 21.  All of the cards have evocative imagery on them, which accounts for their continued appeal.  The cards are now primarily used for divination, or fortune telling, rather than as a card game.  The deck exists in many versions.  The most well known historical deck is the Tarot de Marseilles and the most well known occult deck is the Rider-Waite Tarot, but there are literally thousands of variations.

I actually discovered tarot before I discovered Paganism or Jung.  After I left the Mormon church, I found myself searching the internet for imagery.  I couldn't have said then what I was looking for, but now I realize that I was looking for symbols to fill the vacuum that had been created by the loss of the symbolic system which Mormonism had previously provided me.  I came across tarot and something about the imagery, especially the Major Arcana, was compelling to me, so I went looking for more information.

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  • Deanna Anderson
    Deanna Anderson says #
    I linked to your article from my Goodreads site (it was shared with me on Facebook). I just wrote a book about Tarot, so linked th
  • Deanna Anderson
    Deanna Anderson says #
    Very interesting! I have never seen the Major Arcana described this way but it makes sense. Great article!
  • Finn McGowan
    Finn McGowan says #
    Very interesting blog. When it comes to the Major Arcana, a study of the BOTA deck can be extremely rewarding. What the difference

Jung's Collected Works are being made available for instant download as of March 1, 2014! Below are some convenient links for purchase/download of either the entire collection or individual volumes. 

For Pagans interested reading just one volume of Jung's writings, I would recommend Volumes 9(i) (The Archetypes and the Collective Unconsciousand 11 (Psychology and Religion) which explain the gods in terms of archetypes.  If you're really into mythology, then I would also recommend Vol. 5 (Symbols of Transformation).  If you are an esotericist, then I would recommend Vols. 13 & 14, which are about spiritual alchemy.  And if you are more into the visionary, then definitely check out the Red Book (not part of the Collected Works), Jung's account of his visions and imaginings during his period of psychological breakdown following his split from Freud.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In honor of the Winter Solstice and Christmas I offer this story of the birth of a god recorded by Jung. In this selection from his Red Book, Jung describes in symbolic language the consequences of the death of his god. Jung is overcome by how his god is made small, like an egg which he can keep in his pocket. He is left disoriented by the loss of his god. So Jung takes the egg containing his god, protects it, nurtures it, while it gestates into something new.

b2ap3_thumbnail_cosmicegg.png

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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, energyself, individuation, symbol, and archetype.  In this part, I will discuss "symbol".

 

What is a symbol?

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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 and abused 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".

Psychic

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.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for sharing this! I was reading a great book about the teachings of the 'Neo' Platonist philosopher-priest Proclus The Succ
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks!

In my last post, I described 5 practical steps for doing dreamwork.  In this post, I want to give you a real life example of a dreamworking I did after writing the last post.

1.  Remembering my dream

I don't usually remember my dreams.  So this night, before going to bed, I said aloud, "I will have a dream and I will remember my dream."  I then tried to think about dreaming as I went to sleep, so the last thing I would think about was dreaming.  I then unintentionally woke a half hour to an hour earlier than I normally do, with just a little bit of memory of a dream.  But as I thought what I remembered, more of the dream came back to me. 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thank you for sharing! It was very interesting.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_jacobs-ladder-blake-heartcurrents.jpg

"Jacob's Ladder" by William Blake

In my last post, I discussed dreamwork as a form of Jungian Pagan spiritual practice.  In this post, I want to offer some practical advice for turning dreaming into a spiritual practice.  The following comes from Anthony Stevens' Private Myths: Dreams and Dreaming and Robert Johnson's Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Inner Growth.

1.  Remembering Your Dreams

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  • Áine
    Áine says #
    Thanks for this, John! I always remember at least one dream from every night, and I sort of fall back into the dream I left as I f
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks Áine. It's good to know others are getting something out it.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Great stuff! I always appreciate your perspective. I've had a few "big dreams", as I'm sure that many (if not most) of us have. V

When I comprehended my darkness, a truly magnificent night

came over me and my dream plunged me into the depths of the

millennia, and from it my phoenix ascended.

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  • Laura Smith
    Laura Smith says #
    Great posting. I am a follower of Jung and Campbell in my practice as an Archetypal Dreamwork Analyst. I also blog about my own pe
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks Laura. I'll definitely come over and check out your work.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Very interesting food for thought. Thanks again for sharing it with us!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

[Note: This is a revised version of an earlier essay that appeared on the Humanistic Paganism blog.]

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about ritual creation as a form of Jungian Pagan spiritual practice.  I described ritual as a kind of dance between the conscious and unconscious, in which the conscious mind gives form to unconscious energy or potentialities.  Jung often used the metaphor of water to describe the vivifying energies of the unconscious.  This water, wrote Jung, “comes from deep down in the mountain [the unconscious] and runs along secret ways before it reaches daylight [consciousness].”  The place where it springs forth is marked by a symbol.  This symbol merely marks the experience of the archetype, and it should not be confused with the experience (the water) itself or the archetype (the source of the water).

b2ap3_thumbnail_waterfall.jpg

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[Note: This is a revised version of an earlier essay that appeared on the Humanistic Paganism blog.]

"... creative imagination is the only primordial phenomenon accessible to us, the real Ground of the psyche."

-- Jung, letter to Kurt Plachte, Jan. 10, 1929

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What does a Jungian Pagan spiritual practice look like?  So far, on this blog, my writing has been highly abstract.  I'd like to get does to the practical side of things now.

A Jungian spiritual practice may take many forms.  What all of these forms have in common is that they bring together the rational conscious mind with the non-rational unconscious mind.  Dreamwork, for example, is not just dreaming, but upon waking, analyzing the dream and integrating the unconscious contents into one's conscious life. 

Dreamwork is only the most well known form of Jungian spiritual practice.  Any activity that creates a space and invites the unconscious to dialogue with the conscious mind may be a form of Jungian spiritual practice.  The key is to hold the conscious mind in abeyance temporarily so the unconscious can speak and then to allow the conscious mind to interact with the contents of the unconscious in a reciprocal fashion. 

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  • Candi
    Candi says #
    I'll have to find my other resources. I wonder if it was one of Aidan Kelly's books that I found it in. I also have somewhere a
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks. Please do let me know what you turn up. John
  • Elspeth
    Elspeth says #
    Thank you - very clear, instructive article - so useful. You take great care to state that active imagination is different to luci

When I first started getting into Jung, I was lost.  I quickly discovered three things: First, Jung wrote a lotThere are 18 volumes of his Collected Works (not counting the bibliography and index) and they are not even complete.  Second, there is very little logic to the ordering of Jung's writings.  This is why electronic versions of Jung's writings are great: because they are searchable.  And third, electronic versions of many of Jung's writings are very hard to find.  I've previously provided a list of Internet Jung resources here along with a link to a torrent download of Jung's Collected Works

Jung's Collected Works

Most citations to Jung's works refer numbered paragraphs of the Collected Works (i.e., CW 9ii: P 77).  Jung's Collected Works are not organized exactly chronologically.  As a result, it is difficult to determine the evolution of his ideas.  And it would be difficult to organize Jung's writings chronologically anyway, because of confusion about when many of them were written.  Most of the volumes consist of collections of essays written across Jung's career, with the exception of Volumes 5, 9(i), and 14, which are self-contained works.  

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It is one thing to sing of the beloved. Another, alas,

to invoke that hidden, guilty river-god of the blood. 

-- Rilke

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  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    This is a wonderful post. I love your statement that NeoPagans are modern society's "shadow." I will proudly take that title! I al
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I agree with everything you said about the Horned God. It's still true that the Neopagan Horned God derives from the Wiccan Horne

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

"Scorn not the Gods: Despite their non-existence in material terms, they're no less potent, no less terrible.  The one place Gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity."

-- Alan Moore, From Hell

"But are the archetypes real?"  This is a question that haunts any discussion of the archetypes, especially discussions of the gods as archetypes.  I have made the argument here and here that the polytheistic experience of deities can be explained in Jungian terms as archetypes.  But the question of the ontological nature of the archetypes remained unanswered. 

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... and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on ...
-- Mary Oliver, "Bone"

 

Post-Jungian James Hillman writes that the "first task of psychology is to explore and give an account of subjectivity."  But what are the limits of that subjectivity?  Where do "I" end and the "other" begin?  Hillman writes, "Since the 'discovery of the unconscious,' every sophisticated theory of personality has to admit that whatever I claim to be 'me' has at least a portion of its roots beyond my agency and my awareness."  But just how far beyond?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In the previous two posts, I set out to show how Jung’s archetypal psychology might be of interest to polytheists and deity-centered Pagans.  In concluding, I promised to discuss how Jung may also be of interest to earth-centered Pagans.

Jung’s earthiness is sometimes easy to miss.  It is quite possible to read a great deal of Jung’s writings, as well as a lot of secondary literature on Jungian psychology, and not find much concern at all with the natural world.  In fact, it is easy to interpret Jungian philosophy as being introverted to the point of solipsism.  And yet, one of Jung’s biographers confidentially calls him “earth-rooted” as well as “spiritually centered”.  People who knew him called often described him as “earthy”, referring to his physicality and vitality, as well as his simplicity.  Olga Konig-Fachsenfeld, for one, wrote that Jung's "earth-rootedness" was for her "the guarantee for the credibility of his psychology". 

In his personal life, Jung had an intense love of nature, simple rustic lifestyle, and solitude, reminiscent of the Transcendentalists.  Jung writes in his semi-autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections that part of him always felt “remote from the world of men, but close to nature, the earth, the sun, the moon, the weather, all living creatures.”  His experience of nature bordered on the pantheistic:

“Nothing could persuade me that ‘in the image of God’ applied only to man. In fact it seemed to me that the high mountains, the rivers, lakes, trees, flowers, and animals far better exemplified the essence of God than men with their ridiculous clothes, their meanness, vanity, mendacity, and abhorrent egotism [...]

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It can be difficult to discover personal meaning and purpose when we don't zoom out to get a big picture of the patterns and symbols in our life. One way we can discover the patterns and purposes of our life is by discerning prevalent Archetypes and symbols.

What is an archetype? An archetype is a template or original pattern from which copies are made. Psychologist Carl Jung, author Joseph Campbell, storyteller/author Clarissa Pinkola Estes, psychologist Jean Shinonda-Bolen and others are among those that have brought the concept of Archetypes into our consciousness. 

To break it down in practical, every day terms, Archetypes are patterns that are universally recognized. We see Archetypes in myths, fairy tales, literature, and movies. Think about your own life. Which types of movies do you like? Do you consistently cast yourself in the Hero role? The Underdog or Victim? The Detective? What about the Warrior, Princess, or Femme Fatale? 

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Thanks for further sharing your perspective, John!
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Hi John, As I mentioned in my post, others have built upon what Jung postulated (Myss, Shinoda Bolen, Carol Pearson etc.). concer
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Actually, most Pagan and New Age authors who draw on Jung, do not build on his ideas, but rather present a stripped down version o

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