Red Book Diary – 3

Margin of Error for Jung's Personal Equation

The second fascinating episode of the Red Book (after the previous dialogs with the soul) involves the already somewhat familiar fantasy encounter with Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent that Jung discussed in MDR (as well as at a conference in 1925).  What I would like to do here is an off the cuff analysis of Jung (and his psychological construct of the anima) based on this fantasy or active imagination.  I don't mean this to be anything like a thorough or clinically adequate analysis of either Jung the man or of Jung's analytical psychology . . . but there is a decent chance that it is possible to shed some light on both of these by looking analytically at this fantasy.  I won't reconstruct the plot.  I'm just going to jump right in.

I propose that Jung's anima is not equivalent to Salome (as depicted in this fantasy of a sequence leading up to the mysterium or deification of Jung or Jung's thinking function).  This didn't occur to me until I saw the full text of this sequence as depicted in the Red Book.  But now I feel it is more accurate and functional to see Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent all as dissociated aspects of the anima figure or process in Jung's psyche.  I am here, of course, applying my own revisioning of Jungian anima theory and making no attempt to adhere to traditions and conventions in Jungian thought.

So, along these lines, I see the anima (and animus) as prefigurations of or envoys to the Self.  I agree with Jung that the animi figure is primarily a transitional figure in the psyche and that it represents a process that has some sense of a beginning and an end.  Systemically, it characterizes a process of state change or phase transition where the system reorganizes itself in a seemingly sudden cascade.  Therefore, it can also be seen as a threshold experience or initiation (when viewed in a more colorful and perhaps tribal way).  We also have alchemical symbolism and chemical reactions to look to for metaphorical grounding.

Two preliminary questions must be asked and addressed.  1.) Why are these three figures all parts of the anima? and 2.) If these three together represent a whole, why do they appear here as divided?

As to the first question, some functions of the anima (or animus) when metaphorically personified are as follows (this is a non-exhaustive list).

  1. To present the Self-as-Other to the ego as something incredibly valuable and attractive, something that must be present or connected with in order for the person to be truly "whole" or healthy.
  2. To help break down the rigid egoic structures that have stalled the personality in a state of Bad Faith (I call this stasis-making influence in the personality, the Demon . . . and Jung, to the partial degree he differentiates it in the Red Book, calls it the "spirit of our time" and contrasts this with the "spirit of the depths", a kind of Self system; he might also consider it a "persona", but this I feel is inadequate).
  3. Along with #2 above, to catalyze a reorganization or state change in the system of personality through what seems initially to be a seduction or poisoning that works to dissolve the prior too-static structure and organization of the system.
  4. To woo the ego away from an attitude of Parental dependence on the Self and a desire for the Self-as-God/-Parent to provide sustenance, inspiration, salvation, and libido to the ego.  (See the excerpt quoted in installment 2 of this diary in which the soul says to Jung's narrator, "You speak to me as if you were a child complaining to its mother.  I am not your mother." [p. 236])
  5. To activate the archetypal hero or heroic ego (Jung means something entirely different by this term than I do), who is the true lover of the anima . . . and eventually (after the anima work is complete), the devoted facilitator of the Self system.
  6. To inspire, co-create, and help conceive (along with the hero in the completed Syzygy) the beginnings of a "Logos" or languaging in which the ego can translate (to some degree) and respond to the needs and "thoughts" of the Self.  Therefore, the anima (in its envoy role to the Self) serves as the initial translator of the Self's affective prelanguage.  The anima makes this language more personal and familiar to the ego.  But the culmination of the anima work (or animi work) is the inheritance of responsibility for the translation and languaging of the Self's organizing principle by the ego.  The acceptance and fulfillment of this responsibility is what I mean by the term "heroic".

We can see in light of this abbreviated list that the functions performed in Jung's mysterium fantasy by Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent are all aspects of the anima process and figure.  Salome as "other" (especially to Jung's prudish, rationalistic thinking function/narrator) represents the affect and sensuality of the anima, the desire for the hero and the attraction of that hero.  She is the invisible borderline where the erotic becomes the Erotic, where romantic and sexual desire becomes "spiritualized" or equated with the instinctual necessity of a functionally interrelated and homeostatic Self dynamic.

Elijah represents the Logos-bearing function of the anima, that which translates the affect of the Self-as-God into the Word.  As the father of Salome, he also represents (as is made more overt in a subsequent fantasy) a kind of alchemical Old King for whom Jung's heroic ego is the replacement and rejuvenation, the New King.  This accords with anima function #6 above.  The inheritance of responsibility for the Logos is part of the animi work.

The black serpent represents the instinctual, regenerative, and transformative aspect of the unconscious as initially portrayed through the anima figure.  Her "love" and partnership is not merely a "completion" or blissful fulfillment of selfish longing (and seeing it as such will prevent the anima work process from completing itself).  This union is a kind of sting, a scarification, or initiation wound.  The anima wound or Coniunctio can take numerous forms, but what is really being marked on the ego is a kind of initiation event and passage into psychic adulthood.  What is taken away (the healthy unmarked, "virginal" flesh where the wound will now be) is the provident relationship to the Self-as-Parent/Provider.  It is like the mother's nipple plucked out of the infant's mouth, a kind of weaning.  In the place of this absent breast, a terrible new burden is left: the burden of responsibility for the welfare and facilitation of the Self system.

This would typically correspond with an individuation event where the individual is severed extensively from his or her tribal affiliations (which were part of the complex that maternally provided the milk of Eros and the sense of tribal identity on which the rigid system of personality has become overly-dependent, necessitating the state change into a more dynamic and adaptive system).  That is, the initial environmental imprint of the Self is the mother, then the family, then the tribe.  We develop (more or less unknowingly) a somewhat infantile dependence on the sense of identity and protection these things provide.  But in the individuation event of the animi work, the Self is being re-imprinted because the old imprinting has left too many dissimilarities between the Self system and its tribal construction.  The Self system is inherently adaptive, dynamic, and fluid . . . while socialization and tribal indoctrination is a matter of laws, rules, specific procedures and role plays, status and hierarchy . . . things that are static and not animate of themselves.  The animi work strips much of the imprinting and "languaging" away from the Self image and allows a new, more individual, and more dynamically adaptive myth to be established in its place.  This myth of self-creation is what I mean by the term Logos.  But at the end of the animi work, we have not yet developed a Logos though which we can functionally interact with the Self.  The animi figure always did this for us . . . and that service is no longer provided.  What follows this animi work is a period of gradually figuring out how to construct a viable Logos in conjunction with the input and needs of the Self.

In this sense, the symbol of a "prophet of God" is one who has established a Logos that effectively conveyed and facilitated the instinctual Self system, allowing it to enter the world/environment as a mechanism of adaptation.  But environment changes . . . especially as we mature and pass from infanthood into adolescence and on to adulthood (all of which constitute different human environments).  Therefore, the Old King (languaging relationship of the ego to the Self) must be dissolved and reconstituted by a more adaptive New King.

The skin-shedding serpent represents the ability to change states or alchemically "transmute" into something rejuvenated.  But its power or mana (as we can derive from its blackness) is chthonic, deeply instinctual, somewhat reptilian.  That is, it is a fully autonomous process at its core in which no egoic intelligence is detectable.  It is alien and devalued/othered.  It is the Self or animi as process or mechanism rather than as familiar and somewhat egoic personage.

These elements can all be seen fairly evidently in the triad from Jung's fantasy.  But do they have to be split in this way, and if not, why have they been?  In my own anima work experience, there was no such division.  But there was a transition at one point from a more erotic/sexualized anima figure to one that was a Logos-bearer who taught me (in a dream) something about that role.  That dream made it clear that clinging too tenaciously to the sexual/attractive aspect of the anima amounted to a missing of "the point" and a temptation of dependency.  She had always been a Logos-bearer, but I had not initially realized this, as I had too intellectual and verbal a notion of language (or, as the anima herself phrased it, my thinking and language was initially filled with "Germanisms").

But in Jung's fantasy, something more severe is impeding the fluid wholeness of the anima . . . and Jung has a very hard time seeing his own "Germanisms" (though there is a moment in the Red Book during which his overly Germanic thinking or attitudes are brought under scrutiny!).  I have the feeling that we see Jung's anima divided into three characters (only one of which is clearly female) because of the extent of his personal and cultural prejudices and misogyny.  He simply cannot understand that the Logos is borne by the anima . . . even as his visions proceed to beat him over the head with this (again, he may have some breakthroughs later in the text on this account, but I have not finished reading the whole book yet).  He also (we can presume from the differentiated black snake figure) struggles to understand that there is a transformative element in the erotic.  Sex and woman are devalued objects for Jung here.  He is really only able to value Elijah, the so-called wise old man figure.

But before the mysterium fantasies, Jung dialogs with his soul as a unified entity (see transcription at the end of the second installment of this Red Book Diary).  Following the mysterium fantasies, Jung reconstructs the same basic scenario of Elijah and Salome as a sleepless evening spent in the castle of an old scholar who is obsessed with his books and his "kept" daughter, who yearns to connect with the outside world (through Jung-as-stranger).  I think I will write separately about that episode in greater detail, but for now it is worth at least mentioning that the old scholar from that fantasy (who Jung associates with Elijah at one point) is so obsessed with his books that he ignores Jung's presence and doesn't enter into any intellectual conversation with him (which Jung whines about to the daughter in a later scene).  There is the Old King showing his age and his impaired Eros.  After Jung finally comes to accept the daughter as a vision of his soul and grant her a bit of valuation (it's an epic struggle!), she concludes their meeting with the conveyance of regards from Salome.

My hunch is that the anima work cannot be brought to fruition and completion if the anima figure is not fully valuated and allowed to be the Logos bearer it truly is.  This work is all about valuation of that which is other to the ego . . . and Jung gets this, but must keep it in a glass-walled case of rationalization and intellectualization.  It is fine to learn by small steps, but I worry that Jung's resistance is so severe, that he will never get to the journey's end at this pace and with this prejudice on his back.  I mean to suggest that there is something essential missing or broken in Jung's dissociation of the anima into erotic female, wise old man, and snake.  It is like an engine with the spark plugs removed.  It can't really rev.  The car won't run.  The system can't convert fuel into fire and drive the mechanism.

I am also encouraged to speculate on something that I have always distantly wondered about: the place of the wise old man in the Jungian pantheon.  It is one of the signature Jungian archetypes . . . and it has always struck me as a pocket of disease where Jungianism has a complex.  I have long felt that Jungianism has an artificial identification with the senex . . . and a corresponding shadow projection onto the puer.  Yet, from the perspective of one outside the tribe, Jungianism is clearly a puer enterprise.  It is only within the tribe that we feel our indoctrination and membership enable us to be wise and old.  Far from being a mid-life philosophy, I feel Jungianism is very specifically adolescent.  The desire to identify with the senex is a failure for us.  A failure to individuate, a failure to valuate the puer, a failure to look into our own tribal shadow in a constructive way.

In my own anima work, although older male Self figures (usually portrayed in dreams by my father) played significant roles from time to time (although not usually as teachers), I never had a wise old man figure emerge.  In waking life, I certainly experienced some father/mentor hunger at various stages . . . but I also saw how my desire for this led to destructive projections or could have (in which I demanded far too much from any potential "initiators")*.  Perhaps my fantasy of Jung himself most of all fit this role and transference for me when I was younger . . . but this fantasy was never one of discipleship or initiation.  Rather, it was more of a commiseration on one level and a feeling of valuation for my "individuation sufferings" on another level.  This fantasy-Jung had no answers for me, just a sense that there was precedent and meaning in my dark, meandering path.  When I pursued an active imagination exercise (in the writing of a song) exploring (among other things) this fantasy of Jung, I met him inside the belly of a whale and he said he would grant me a wish in return for a favor.  His problem was that he was supposed to be dead, but couldn't seem to find his way into the underworld.  He had gotten lost or trapped in a dream in which he was dreaming that he was me.  He told me, "Your life is stupid.  You're a fool."

*This will likely be the topic of a future installment of this diary, as Jung's narrator goes on to petition numerous potential wise old men teachers, throwing himself deferentially at their feet like a disciple-in-waiting, only to eventually see through the "wisdom" they represented.  He comes to identify as a devil because of this irrepressible dark urge to undermine or see-through his paternal masters.  My suggestion (to be elaborated in that future installment) is that this devilish unraveler of dogmas in Jung's psyche is, although he doesn't seem to recognize it, his anima.  There are also interesting parallels between these episodes of failed discipleship in the Red Book, and Jung's falling out with Freud.

I asked him (a la Parsifal) if I should search for a Grail (if I was to be a fool, that is).  Instead, he handed me a photograph of the "underground phallus" from one of his earliest dreams recorded in MDR.  I asked him what I could do for him and my thigh started to bleed.  He replied, "You got Visa, they don't take American Express?"  But I had not "credit" on me, so he then asked for my body in order to make a peace offering to the dead.  I gave this to him in the form of a "crate full of lead".  And the wish I made in return for this favor was to be back in my bed.  The wish was granted: I was back in my bed . . . in the belly of a whale!

A series of misadventures ensued . . . and as I finally started to "get it", I met Jung again.  He was floating down the river Styx on the crate full of lead I had given him while in the whale.  My anima (as Persephone) and I waved to him from a ship we were sailing on, and he threw us a cup.  Persephone filled this with Ambrosia and we both drink as Jung passed, finally, into the land of the dead.  This song (called "Talkin' Hades Return to the Underworld Blues") could be seen as an example of my own "mysterium" or "deification" fantasy corresponding to the fantasy Jung relates of Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent (I have to say, though, that my song is significantly less portentous and more humorous than the Red Book . . . but nowhere near as pretty . . . and this says something interesting about both myself and Jung).

The deification fantasy that Jung does describe in the final mysterium fantasy requires further reflection.  Even as he seems an unwilling participant in the process to some degree, there is undeniably a grandiosity to it all (as there is in my song, where I "find myself" by remembering I am Hades).  Two things must be said about this symbol and the grandiosity that surrounds it.  First is that I believe some of this grandiosity to be a usually side effect of the numinous experience of initiation . . . but I also think that the grandiosity of Jung's fantasy is inadequately tempered by the right kind of humility.  That "right kind of humility" is one that (in this case) needs to supplant the temptation to intellectualize the experience and make wordy, abstract, metaphysical philosophies out of it.  There is just a bit too much "interpretation" in Jung's thinking function assessment following the deification fantasy.  He dulls and distorts it . . . and has a hard time disentangling the symbol of deification (what I would more subtly call heroic initiation or response to the heroic Call) from the exaltation of his thinking function to a level of spiritual truth-saying.  That latter turn or interpretation is, I believe, the temptation of inflation or Demonic colonization of the heroic knighting experience.

For instance, becoming the new "prophet" replacing Elijah is a bit too presumptuous.  The status of "prophet" in one's own psyche is reserved for the heroic ego who has developed an intricate and sophisticated Logos through which the Self system's dynamism is facilitated.  The heroic knighting or response to the Call that is, I think, the real psychic event Jung's fantasy is depicting, is merely the beginning of a journey that will (if fulfilled) end in the Logos-bearing . . . and only after the anima is fully valuated and united with.  And then, to bear the Logos is, especially at first, to bear not-knowing, to have no adequate language, to be lost in blackness and instinctual affect and shadow.  It is no mastery, no "truth-saying".  In Jung's interpretations and elaborations of his mystical encounters in the Red Book, there is an abundance of languaging . . . and that abundance helps resoundingly demonstrate this languaging's inadequacy and Jung's "thinking-type" fear of or defense against not-knowing.

But in fairness, the response to the Call does essentially allow the "Holy Spirit" to descend upon the heroic ego in baptism . . . and that will always lead to intuitions about what the completion of the anima work will bring . . . and numerous Demonic attempts to skip ahead and identify with that fantasy of the completed Self and mystical Goal.  I don't therefore mean to condemn Jung only to inflation.  But I do feel that this mysterium deification should not be interpreted by Jungians as indicative of an "individuation" or spiritual/mystical transcendence.

One thing that Jung either misrepresented or I have misremembered in his MDR retelling of the Red Book deification fantasy is Salome's worship of the deified Jung "as Christ".  In the Red Book, Salome does tell Jung he is Christ (and he replies to her in a way similar to Christ's reply to Pilate: "You, Salome, say that I am Christ?").  She wraps Jung's feet with her hair as the black serpent coils around his body and his face becomes like that of a lion and blood flows from his body.  And when she rises up from this act, she is no longer blind (the symbol of her blindness, by the way, doesn't strike me as any kind of archetypal anima blindness . . . rather it is Jung's projection of blindness and lack of insight upon her.  This blindness personifies the blindness of Jung's thinking function).  Elijah tells Jung his work is done for now.  As Jung leaves feeling somewhat deeply moved but perhaps somewhat unworthy and out of place, Elijah erupts into a huge white flame while Salome, enraptured (and with the snake wrapped around her foot), "kneels before the light in wonderstruck devotion".

Even in the role of Christ, it is as if Jung play only a bit part, acts as a kind of cog in the mysterium ceremony, which seems to have more to do with Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent.  Salome's role here is that of a recipient or bearer of the Logos flame.  Her eyes are opened for it.  And just as she is granted her sight, so is Elijah transformed into pure fire and light.  Jung is not yet ready to take on this responsibility.

Below, I make an error in understanding the notation for the layout of the Red Book.  The painting pictured here is not what I originally assumed it was.  The painting actually depicts the hatching of the egg into which Jung placed Izdubar to carry him inside a house in a later passage.  Jung worships what is released from this hatching; it is not Salome.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this diary of reflections on the Red Book in such haste is that I wanted to allow room for even mistaken reactions like this.  What I learn from this particular one is that the strong emotional reaction I had to Jung's interaction with Salome and his soul (and his misogynistic attitudes in general) led me to associate in my own mind Jung's dream of his father and this painting.  Jung, in fact, has much less of a problem bowing down before images of masculine transcendence and power (as he continuously gravitates toward wise and/or learned men in the Red Book journeys).

Still, this is more of an error of scholarship/citation than a substantive mistake.  As I wrote in my reflections on Jung's dream of his father, the failure to completely bow down to Uriah-as-the-Highest-Presence is a failure to observe the supremacy or greater value of the true hero and sacrificed partner of the anima over the "Great Man", David, who steals/usurps the lusted after Bathsheba and has her husband killed/betrayed in a most cowardly of ways.

I have been learning as I progress through the Red Book that my desire for Jung to "get it", to find a way to valuate his anima as I feel it should be valuated, is an obstacle in the path of my understanding of the text.  I think my assessment of Jung as somewhat "anima-impaired" and prone to misogyny is valid . . . but the Red Book seems to have at least as much to do with Jung's relationship to his own heroism and his relationship to masculine images of divinity, wisdom, and power/mana.  I'll continue to investigate this as this diary progresses.

What I wrote below about the anima as Logos-bearer also remains valid . . . although Jung may not have recognized this.

I am also reminded in the painting of this scene (in which Salome's head is touched to the floor in supplication to the Logos flame) of Jung's dream of his father, the fish-skin bible, and Uriah as the Highest Presence that I previously posted some reflections on.  In that dream, although Jung's father assumes such a position in regard to Uriah-as-Highest-Presence, Jung cannot quite bring himself to touch his head to the floor.  It seems to parallel his attitude toward the anima-as-Logos-bearer.  Just as Jung was witness to Salome's devotion to the Logos flame, he is a witness to his father's devotion to Uriah.  But this witnessing is not the same thing as participating.  Perhaps Jung felt that such participation would have been a sacrifice of his autonomy and right to choose, but this is unconvincing to me.  One must participate in order to be fully transformed.  Autonomy and analysis can come later.  We cannot language these things before or even while we live them.  If we try to do so, we merely create a barrier between ourselves and the fire of transformation, the fire of instinctual affect, which is the force of the Self's organizing principle.

Jung seems to be constantly in conflict with his drive to participate in his own mysticism.  He moves from denials and protestations to distancing interpretations and displacements.  Rarely does he seem to exist in the moment.  It's odd because the Jung of the Collected Works is not what I would call a skeptic.  In these books he seems to usually participate in the subject matter and even falls into flights of poeticism, distraction, and digression.  As a writer, he is often at the mercy of a kind of creative momentum that appears to be a horse that directs its rider.  Of course, this feeling is more readily derived from his later writings . . . while the stuff of the Red Book mostly came on the heels of his split with Freud and "confrontation with the unconscious".  But the dream of his father mentioned above was a dream from late in his life . . . and where the anima was concerned, all of Jung's writing and lecturing seems to have exhibited this inability to completely touch his head to the ground, to valuate.

One last thing to mention in the context of this mysterium fantasy is something that also comes up in various places in the Red Book.  This is the idea of becoming Christ or a Christ instead of worshiping Christ.  This is a bit of Gnosticism that Jung wrestled with.  It intrigued him, but I sense a lot of consternation in his experience of this "Christhood" . . . and the Jungian disease I have written about elsewhere has a distinct problem with its temptation to identify as Christ rather than as Christian.  Jungians typically meet this temptation by thrusting the symbol of Christhood into the shadow.

Jung himself made what I feel is a drastic (but of course, common) error in equating the self (I prefer to use the capitalized Self) with Christ and with the "Christhood" of the whole personality.  The figure of Christ is not the same thing as what I call the Self . . . and this Self can never be "me".  It is not something I can become, even as it is always something that is "also who I am".  The Self is always Other on some level.  But the symbol of Christ is actually a representation of the "ideal individuant" or heroic ego sacrificing itself to valuate and facilitate the Self system.  As a devout "anti-Gnosticism" the Catholicism that Jung inherited contains an inextricable element of propaganda against Gnostic identification with Christ.  The Catholic Christ is exalted beyond human reach through totemization and taboo . . . and his gory Passion and crucifixion function as kinds of ornaments or scarecrows meant to ward off the Gnostic impulse.

But that Gnostic impulse is a natural event in any individuation process.  The heroic ego must be identified with for the animi work to progress.  By tabooing the individual identification with Christ, the Church tabooed the hero, and effectively thwarted the individuation process by associating the natural emergence of the heroic attitude with shame and terrible sin.  This is not merely an accident, as it was the desire of the Church to act as a monopoly where the communion between man and God was concerned.  Gnosticism was a great danger to the success of the Church because it encouraged individuals to self-create their spirituality, to self-validate.  Gnosticism did not seek to profit from implanting itself into a gatekeeper role.  But there is no doubt that the Church did profit, and it profited enormously . . . even as it also served a pivotal role in the destruction of a "middle class" and the lopsided redistribution of wealth in the Western world . . . the establishment of a wide scale serfdom.

There is more to the Christian self-deification taboo than pure sinfulness, but Jung doesn't really deconstruct the Church and its theology.  He seeks merely to revise it.  And even as his inclinations (as those of any individuating person) lean toward the Gnostic disposition, for Jung it is a matter of righteousness and true faith to properly reconcile this Gnostic revisioning with Catholic religiosity and theological dogma.  Jung directed most of his Christian criticism at Protestantism, but he did not exert much effort to deconstruct Catholic Christianity and Church doctrine.  And this is where the self-deification taboo and the anti-Gnosticism originate.

Therefore Jung (with the Jungians after him) has attempted to understand and pursue individuation without resolving the Catholic taboo placed on the hero.  This leaves Jungians in conflict with themselves, continuously see-sawing between the temptation to self-deify and the crushing, Demonic shame that holds that bit of Gnosticism to be inflated, immoral, and mad.  Of course, before Gnosticism, the Mystery religions carried out deification initiations where the madness of the god (Dionysus) was engaged ritualistically as a transformative agent . . . and this process, it seems, did not involve all the self-flagellation that Catholicism would introduce.

I would propose that the taboo and the intense shame surrounding the stuff of individuation as well as the tremendous temptation of grandiosity individuation seems to offer are not actually the products of necessity or inevitability.  These are cultural artifacts (largely, not entirely), the baggage of Catholic inheritance.  As this heroic self-deification was tabooed by the Church, it had no way of ritually bringing individuals into and out of the madness of identification with the god.  Here, Christianity is an irresponsible parent that can only shame but doesn't know how to nurture or "hold".  There is no Christian vessel of transformation for the individuant . . . and that makes the wilderness of the heroic journey all the more terrible and difficult to endure for Christianized Westerners.

Regrettably, Jungians have inherited a wholesale version of this from their founder, who was a deeply Christianized thinker.  Jung definitely made inroads in the heroic journey against the sway of Christian taboo and dogma, but he did not manage to differentiate the self-deification taboo in the roots of the Christian inheritance.  The result was a dissociation, an exaltation and prescription of individuation on one hand, but a shadowed and repressed individuation swampland on the other.  On the Jungian map of individuation, "There be dragons" is written over all the uncharted boundaries.  But what Jung was not adequately clear about was that these uncharted areas of the Jungian world are unavoidable for those who choose or are compelled to pursue individuation.  Therefore, for most of the Jungian tribe (who respect the map's dogmatic warnings about boundaries and dragons), individuation is a totem that can only exist as a sacred tribal object but not as a truly Jungian path of identity.  Individuation is a god we worship rather than a road we walk . . . just as Christ is an object of distanced worship for Christians to be petitioned with prayers and sheepishness, and not a true model to follow.

But if Jungians could find a way to look farther back into the ancient mystery religions, we could at least begin to imagine that the deification can be ritually "held" as a threshold of transformation.  How that could be done in the modern world is up to our invention . . . and it won't be easy.  But the pre-Christian (as well as the alchemical) past allows us to entertain that the successful navigation of such thresholds is at least possible.

What we Christianized moderns so often fail to realize is that becoming Christs is not as exalting as we imagine it to be.  It is the Church and its propaganda that tabooed and exalted Christhood far beyond human reach.  But for initiates into the Mysteries and for early Gnostics, "Christhood" was something that many people could participate in without becoming "superior beings".  Christhood, after all, is not about the power and the glory of transcendence.  It is actually about the facilitation of the god, of God, or of the sacred on earth . . . the facilitation of the instinctual, adaptive Self system in the environment.  Platonic Christianity ripped spirit away from its grounding in instinct . . . and in the process, created the spiritual disease of inflation and psychotic grandiosity.  But that grandiosity that Jungians so fear is properly understood as the product of a dissociation that resulted from the devaluation of instinct (the fall of Sophia or the soul into lifeless Matter).  As the Gnostic myths tell us, the freeing of this soul from Matter or instinct is the province of the Logos.

Jung's Salome is a soul figure who has fallen into Matter (as blinded, beheading, desirous sensuality).  She has been devalued and not allowed to have sight and language.  But she hungers to unite with the Logos . . . and as a figure of Jung's soul, she desires to be redeemed in the ensouled Logos of Jung's language and thought.  But he fails to create an adequate vessel for her to be born in or redeemed through.  We only glimpse her through the cracks in his resolve, where she is surrounded by shadows.

Maybe Jung found ways to enlarge these cracks as he proceeded through his life and psyche.  But the literature he left his intellectual and tribal heirs leaves no directions for accomplishing this.  There is merely a vague indication that, somehow, it should be accomplished.  But because we do not know how and have not been shown the way by the father, we fail again and again and have developed a complex around this with its myriad illusions and misdirections.  We devote a great deal of time and energy to trying to escape from the sword of this complex . . . but we rarely choose to face the blade and work to transform it.  Like Jung in the Red Book, we mostly shrink away from our soul and from the threshold of initiation it governs.