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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in jung

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Neo-Paganism as a Mystery Religion

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  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Rather than ascribe a gender, I typically use the Sephirot, Netzah and Hod as the focal ideas for this ritual, equal on the tree,

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In my last post, I promised to describe a ritual which my family does about the Jungian Shadow.  We've done this ritual in the past at the summer solstice, but it can be done at any time.

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In my last post, I described Neo-Paganism as a modern-day mystery religion.  Historically, initiates into the mystery religions experienced a ritual death and rebirth.  Some Neo-Pagan rituals follow this format.  The idea is that we die to our old selves and awaken to a new, more expansive Self.  In Jungian terms, the Self is the wholeness of our many disparate selves, conscious and unconscious.  But to encounter the Self, we must let our old selves, our egos, die.  This is a psychological death, but no less significant than physical death from the perspective of the ego.  For the ego, the experience can be as painful as dying physically, and some people would prefer physical death.  

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Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii

As indicated in the introduction to this blog above, I discovered Jungianism and Neo-Paganism at the same time, through the writings of Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, and Starhawk, and the two have remained intertwined for me ever since.  In fact, the first Pagan writing I ever read was an essay by Wiccan priestess and Jungian psychologist, Vivianne Crowley entitled, "Wicca as a Modern-Day Mystery Religion", in Graham Harvey and Charlotte Hardman's Paganism Today (1994).  Wouter Hanegraaf has written that Vivianne Crowley’s Jungian perspective “is so strong that readers might be forgiven for concluding that Wicca is little more than a religious and ritual translation of Jungian psychology.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I believed.  Even after realizing that that Paganism is far more diverse than I had originally thought, Crowley's vision of Wicca has continued to influence me.

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  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I don't disagree with you, John. Actually, I think that the personal transformation element is the superior of the two reasons to
  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    In becoming a Pagan, I have experienced the initiation as a form of personal transformation that you spoke of. I liked this post a

When I lean over the chasm of myself,

It seems my God is dark,

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I am a Jungian Neo-Pagan, which means that, theologically speaking, I fall somewhere between atheist Pagans and devotional polytheists regarding the existence of the gods.  By placing my beliefs in the "middle" here I do not mean to privilege my beliefs, only to make the point that I both agree and disagree with both groups about different things.  One thing I agree with devotional polytheists about is that the gods should be taken seriously. 

I worry sometimes that we Neo-Pagans don't take our own gods seriously enough.  I disagree with devotional polytheists about the metaphysical nature of the gods, whether they are "real, independent, sentient beings" or real, independent semi-conscious archetypes. (Carl Jung called the archetypes "gods" and compared the psyche to an “Olympus full of deities who want to be propitiated, served, feared and worshipped”.)  But one thing I admire about them is the seriousness (the "piety" if you will) with which they approach the gods.  

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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.

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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
  • Neda Marin
    Neda Marin says #
    This was a wonderful read! I am just getting into studying the Major Arcana and had no idea the cards have been rearranged differe

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