Author Topic: The Anima Work, IV: Coniunctio and Sacrifice Dream  (Read 4864 times)

Matt Koeske

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The Anima Work, IV: Coniunctio and Sacrifice Dream
« on: April 01, 2008, 03:41:11 PM »

The Dream:
I am rowing a boat to an island with a castle on it.  I have become a famous hero after vanquishing some kind of monster or demon, but I know that I will have to face the greatest danger of all . . . and I am going to meet my fate, come what may.  At times I feel as if the devil is with me, perhaps talking with me about my upcoming challenge . . . although he is a kind of wise old man/trickster figure, not evil or tempting.

I arrive at the castle island and enter into a large Gothic hall.  Here I meet the queen of this kingdom (which is the kingdom I am supposed to protect or redeem from the great evil).  She instructs me that what I will have to do is submit to an operation that will (more "spiritually" than physically) transform me into a woman.  I will have to sacrifice the heroic strength and determination and honor/pride I have developed as the kingdom's great champion.  I will no longer be powerful or resolute or brave.  The operation will be a kind of spiritual (and possibly also literal) castration.  I am a little nervous about this, but feel that I must submit to this as part of my heroic role.  I knew a sacrifice was coming, but I had not expected it to go like this.  Dying in battle, maybe, but not willingly sacrificing my heroism and masculinity (for reasons I could not understand).  I could not see why this was the right thing to do, but I obeyed.

The queen (who was maybe only slightly older than me) was cold and uncompromising, not really like my previous dream anima figures.  In order to submit to this operation, I had to lie down on a stone table while some machine was linked into me (electrically, it would seem) and sent a charge through me that would (very painfully) change me into a woman.  I lay down while the queen started hooking me up and strapping me to the table.

Then, the princess of the kingdom burst in and shouted that this must stop.  She unstrapped me and told me that this was not the answer.  I should not undergo the operation.  This was welcome news to me and it seemed to immediately make sense.  The queen didn't protest significantly, and the princess escorted me away from this great hall and deeper into the castle.

The princess was closer in age to me, very beautiful, and much more like one of my typical anima figures (strong, but warm, affectionate, naturally intimate).  There was a powerful attraction between us.  As we ventured into the depths of the castle, we talked about my heroic duties and why submitting to the operation was not the thing to do.  The kingdom needed me to be heroic, to continue protecting it and pursuing my quests . . . and if I sacrificed myself, I would not be able to uphold my duty.

We stopped in the hallway outside a large auditorium on our right.  There were glass windows that allowed us to look through into the auditorium.  We were at the top looking down past rows and rows of seats (or bleachers) into the valley or floor of the huge room.  At the bottom in the middle was a vast swimming pool.  The princess told me that she had to leave now, but that I would be OK.  I would be in the hands of the kingdom's librarian, who would teach me more about what I needed to know to uphold my heroic role.  I would never see the princess again, and this was very sad news, but she reassured me.  Then she removed all of her clothing and descended down the rows of bleachers and dove into the pool.  She did not resurface.

I continued down the hall in the direction we were going and came to the kingdom's library (which was more like a scattering of large bookshelves in the middle of this hallway . . . almost as if the books had been stored here with no pomp and circumstance, just stowed away.  The librarian was a woman who was not, like the princess, beautiful or erotic.  But she was very strong and wise.  She was feared by the queen and perhaps others in power, which was why she was sort of stowed away back in this ramshackle library.  It was evident to me in minutes after talking to her that she was rightfully feared, because she was very ethical as well as intelligent and innovative.  She had "dangerous ideas".  A kind of stoic radical or subversive, and although not ambitious, she was notably fearless.

She began instructing me in matters of esoteric philosophy that I had had little understanding of.  She told me that I would be reading all of the books in this library.  That seemed daunting to me, but she assured me that she had read all of them herself (and perhaps written some of them).  Even in her first impromptu lessons, I began to understand the nature of my life and role more clearly than ever before.  My feeling of being overwhelmed by all I would have to learn started to give way to excitement for the heroic quest of "gnosis".  I awoke.

This dream depicts what is the essential transition of the anima work, a movement from desire and pursuit to discipline and responsibility.  We might see this as a kind of retooling of the sexual instinct awakened in adolescence that pulls the man (or boy) away from a sense of Eros and relationality that is largely associated with his mother or with the Maternal and toward a relationality with an erotic partner or mate, a relationship of relative equals in which he will have to carry many more responsibilities.  He is no longer umbilically dependent on the relational sustenance of a Maternalistic resource.  He is now co-responsible for creating and maintaining love.

But with the anima work, we must be careful not to reduce the scope of symbolism to this typical adolescence-to-adulthood sexual transition.  Yes, there is significant overlap, but a man can transition to more adult, partner-type relationships without ever engaging in the anima work at all.  The anima work is a matter of taking this instinct (which normally is imprinted by specific environmental conditions and "takes" only partially, just well enough to encourage reproduction, perhaps) and internalizing or psychologizing or mythologizing it.  We struggle to withdraw our projections of this magnetic instinct (as much as possible) from the world and from other people (potential partners).  An absolute withdrawal of projections is impossible (archetypal projections are, after all, instinctually conditioned and not "mistakes" or failures) . . . but the man engaging in the anima work needs to strive to internalize his projections as much as possible and try to commune with their source directly.  He is likely to find out the hard way that this needs to be done.  That is, he will project his anima onto many women who cannot and should not carry such a projection.  These women will not live up to the complexity and intimacy of his anima (especially as he approaches the Coniunctio) . . . and he will very possibly offend or do emotional harm to them if he persists in his demanding projections.

This inevitability, regrettable though it may be, is typically the only way a man learns that his anima belongs inside him.  A less glamorous, but no less significant, aspect of the anima work is the struggle to withdraw anima projections onto real women and Others.  Not only does this help internalize more erotic libido and feed it into the Work, it helps the man valuate and respect his material partners as true Others.  Of course, almost all of our romantic relationships require and depend upon unowned animi projections, but when we are deeply embroiled in the animi work, we are essentially carrying gods and goddesses within us (highly potentiated, numinous psychic contents), archetypes that no one could truly live up to.  Another person can never replace our instincts . . . just as our instincts cannot truly replace Others.  Instincts, even our relational instincts, tend to be Self- or organism-centered.  Their goal is to goad the organism into a state of functional and adaptive equilibrium with the environment.

Seen this way, it is easy to understand why trying to force another human being to play the role of adapter to environment is bound to become problematic, if not overtly destructive.

In the pursuit of the anima work, we will eventually face a time when the erotic aspect of the anima has become less a lure into internalization or psychologization and more a hindrance to further psychologization or deepening in the communion with the adaptive instinct.  Jung himself seemed to note this very briefly in characterizing four anima stages as Eve, Helen, Mary and Sophia ["The Psychology of the Transference," CW 16, par. 361].  I'm not comfortable using his specific classifications, but I generally agree that there is a transition from the erotic to the spiritual and from sexual attraction to wisdom or learning through initiation.  Jung's progression of anima states is also misleading because it is entirely ascendant (and Neoplatonic).  This is not (even by Jung's own thinking) the most accurate way to describe anima transitions, as the last anima stages or characterizations are significantly depotentiated.  But we will get to that in later installments.

What might we do instead of mythologizing and personifying anima stages the way Jung did?  How can we bring more light and accuracy into our language?  When we are characterizing the anima as a magically compelling erotic partner who is our one and only source of deepest "soul satisfaction" (or relational fulfillment), we are still in a realm of dependency on the anima's providence.  Only She can fulfill us.  We must have Her.  That deepening desire is a good goad for getting us to descend into the psyche's depths, but once we are in the depths sufficiently, a change must be made.  The anima does not bring the man into these depths in order to live happily ever after with him in the mythical underworld.  She is a creature of instinct and adaptation.  She has no personal (egoic) desire or ambition, but is a representation of a process.  This process has a goal: adaptivity . . . where the individual's instincts are able to connect adaptively to the material environment the individual exists in.  In order for this to happen, the bridge or barrier between instinct and environment has to be restructured into a more ideal and plastic facilitator.  That bridge or barrier is, of course, the ego.

It is unlikely that any man would willingly give up his anima once he has become deeply intimate with her (anymore than we would willingly give up any intimate partner).  But the instinct behind her has other plans, and as the man's devotion to his anima grows to a certain point, she will probably begin to drop various hints of her impending departure.  And the man will probably try to protest and resist this.  This departure is really a depotentiation brought on by what is essentially an integration of anima personality traits into the man's conscious (and valuated) ego personality.  As he begins to recognize that the anima is a mirror image of him, something like his psychic potential, he will absorb many of her characteristics . . . at first unknowingly (the Jungians sometimes like to call this "anima possession", but this is both a misnomer and a woolly concept), and later, quite consciously.  Man (to the degree that he embraces the heroic ego which is the lover of the anima and Self) and anima move toward one another, gradually merging into an indistinguishable oneness.

In numerous dream fragments from my anima work period, I had dreams in which my anima was literally a mirror image of me.  She was even masculinized at times, being portrayed (in alchemical fashion) as a hermaphrodite.  By the time I had the dream related in this essay, I was well aware of the twinness between the anima and me (my heroic ego), and my willingness to submit to a sex change operation in the name of my heroic duty and my anima quest was an indication of my acknowledgment of the anima/ego mirroring.  What I didn't know (and what this dream started to make clear to me) was what would happen as these two mirror images merged into one.

This merging is what we see in the alchemical stages of Solutio and Coniunctio, dissolving and conjoining.  The product (or offspring) of this union is the true prima materia . . . which will go through many further transformations as it is formed into the Philosophers' Stone.  The alchemists often referred to their prima materia in all stages of transformation as the Stone.  Jung, I feel, was right to recognize an overlap between the early alchemical stages and the anima work.  But he failed to align his notion of the anima accurately with the alchemical opus and left his followers with a legacy of confusion (regarding both the animi and the psychology of alchemy), but his intuitive insight was still sharp and useful.  In my opinion, Jung's bowdlerization of alchemy (especially in the Rosarium Philosophorum-based "Psychology of the Transference") was less a factor of any "misunderstanding" of alchemy that it was a factor of misunderstanding the structure of the anima work.  Jung (and all Jungians since him) have tried to understand the anima as a whole "personality" without understanding her as part of a process with a specific goal.  But the "personality" of the anima is defined by her biological purpose.  She remains for the Jungians a mystical figure with mysterious and problematic aspirations where a man's egoic attitude is concerned.

Such an attitude could only be derived from a perspective of looking at the anima work as if not only from a distance, but through the facade of the anima, behind whom the work or process is concealed.  The equivocation and sexism and general confusion about the anima work prevalent in Jungian thinking is most likely a matter of not having the benefit of looking back on the anima work after its completion (and careful contemplation or analysis).  What is perhaps most indicative of the limitation in the Jungian perspective on the anima is the common Jungian conflation of the Coniunctio with a kind of exalted, blissful, transcendent union of opposites, a hieros gamos in heaven.  This, of course, in no way corresponds with the alchemical opus as portrayed in the Rosarium Philosophorum in which the dissolution of Sol and Luna (onto which Jung projected male ego and anima) into a oneness is not so much ecstatic as deathly.  It results in their union in death.  To be unified like this is to die.  Hardly an exalted sacred marriage in heaven.

I think it would be more helpful for us to keep in mind that the anima work is an instinctual process and not, fundamentally, a spiritual transcendence.  After a heart attack, Jung had hieros gamos visions in his hospital bed that he felt were blissful and transcendent.  It is important that we do not conflate these kinds of anecdotes with the anima work or with the alchemical stage of the Coniunctio.  We should also be cautious of the Jungian tradition (perhaps best captured by Edward Edinger in Anatomy of the Psyche) of positioning the alchemical Coniunctio at the end of the opus and as its final goal.  This is simply a misappropriation of alchemy.  If the Jungians want to create or celebrate a spiritual tradition in which the hieros gamos is seen as the goal of spiritual discipline, that's fine.  But let's not force this belief onto alchemical symbolism where it doesn't belong.  It is also very dangerous (i.e., inflated and perhaps delusional) to assume that the Coniunctio or syzygy of the heroic ego and the anima is anything like a completion of spiritual work or the attainment of a spiritual goal.  Such an opinion can only be held by someone who is looking (rather naively) toward the distant Coniunctio.  Anyone who has been in its midst or passed through it would never be able to hold such a romantic and unrealistic notion.

As we should be able to see fairly clearly in the dream this chapter is centered around, we do not get to the Coniunctio through transcendence, but through descent . . . and we do not fall into it in ecstasy but in sacrifice or resignation.  The Christian allegory of Christ's Passion is much more apt here.  What we are talking about is a Mystery rite, an initiation (death-rebirth) ritual in which one form of libido is being transformed or retooled into another.  Sexual libido is being redirected inward and psychologized.  The personality is being reassembled (due to the dissociation of socialization which encourages the ego to worship the group or tribe, the abstract sociality of culture, instead of or above the Instinctual Self).  The Coniunctio is a sacrifice, its "ecstasy" is not transcendence, but a Passion and dismemberment or dissolution.  The death that follows the Coniunctio in alchemical symbolism is a reflection of the depotentiation of desires between the attracted elements or between the heroic ego and the anima.  Attraction, as force or energy, depends on separation.  Without separation, energy is depotentiated . . . existing only as potential energy.  This is a much more apt metaphor for the alchemical opus's transition from separation to union and death.  And, as it happens, it is also a much more apt metaphor for the union with the anima we can see in the anima work.  That is, there are more parallels between these alchemical stages and the anima work (as I am trying to describe it) than there are between these stages and Jung's projection of transference phenomena onto them.

Another interesting element of the dream provided here is that it depicts the sacrifice as necessary only in intention and not necessarily in action . . . or in the literal sense.  It is clear that the heroic ego must go through a transformation.  His libido for fighting Demons and winning fair maidens must give way to the esoteric discipline of learning or building an inner language.  But in order to make this transition, he has to be willing to sacrifice his will.  Just as the man has become unconsciously dependent on the relational and sexual satisfaction the anima promises him, he has equally become dependent on being able to descend into his depths heroically, by force of will and brute determination and with readily available energy.  The attraction to and growing valuation of the anima gave him the strength to go on this heroic quest, and as he persisted, he identified increasingly with the heroic ego or hero archetype . . . which was a way of being or thinking that offered impressive aptitude and confidence.

But in the impending transition, he is being told that the instinctual drives for attraction to or by the anima and identification with the hero will be depotentiated.  They will no longer provide for his love interest and heroism "for free".  Instinct, like a magnet, can attract or apply force to the ego, but the task ahead of the ego cannot be accomplished by (unconscious or unintentioned) instinct alone.  When the instincts can no longer provide, what is required is a restructuring of ego.  The ego must be rebuilt into a facilitator of instincts.  The ego is essentially constructed of an inner, psychological language or pre-language.  It shouldn't be confused with verbal language, although it does seem to incorporate aspects of verbal language, but as movable chunks in conceptual space.  The psychological language I am talking about is probably best glimpsed in our dreams.  Of course we have to be conscious and careful of the fact that there are dreams themselves, and then there is the way we perceive our dreams.  In our perception and reconstruction of our dreams, we lose much of their complexity (especially their feeling and interrelational complexity).  This is especially notable when we are fond of seeing our dreams through interpretive paradigms.

But the language of dreams is a complex language of interrelated structures of memory quanta.  The complex system of the psyche is always in flux, in process . . . both when we are awake and when we are asleep.  It is continuously processing information and attempting to reorganize itself more efficiently.  The anima work brings us eventually to a place in which the Self (via the anima) is powerfully, instinctually valuated by the ego . . . but not necessarily understood.  What we do come to understand is that although we can feel a great hunger for the Self and respond to it as if it were a god or a great prize (a "treasure hard to attain"), we have no idea what it is we are in this state of powerful participation with.  It seems to want to speak to us, but we don't understand its language.  It sends us erotic desire or kicks us squarely in the nuts, but there is little subtlety to this communication.

When we don't understand something but sense that it has "mind" and intentionality and will, we reconstruct or project our egoic theory of mind onto it.  In this way, we project our egoic style of thinking onto the Instinctual Self.  But what the anima work shows us (when we devotedly engage with it) is that this egoic projection is wholly unsatisfactory for understanding the "alien" mind of the Self.  The anima work takes us down the rabbit hole and to the door of the Self, where we realize that we know nothing . . . and that all of our heroic and transcendent flashes of wisdom before had come from instinctual sources and been (probably very severely) filtered through and modified by egoic projection.  That is, we interpreted our instinctual goadings in a way that was familiar to us . . . and this was really not adequate (i.e., it didn't produce adaptive behaviors and attitudes).

The transition of the anima from the erotic to the instructional or spiritual stage is a product of "handing off" the ego to the Self.  The anima is becoming depotentiated.  She is no longer the object of desire or valuation.  She was only the messenger, the guide, the match-maker between the ego and the instinctual psyche.  She was the twin of the ego in large part because her image was the only way in which the ego could envision the Self . . . as a familiar, or as something egoic.  But the Self, it turns out, is much more alien than we (projectively) had imagined.  It is larger, more complex, more natural or material, more mechanical.  It seems not to exist in the same kind of boundless conceptual or abstract space the ego does.  The Self (as the egoic projections are stripped away from it) appears to increasingly behave like matter . . . although like matter in a complex system.  This should not really be all that surprising to us, since we are well aware that we live in a material world as material bodies.  But we have not evolved to see ourselves this way, not accurately.  The anima leads us to confrontations with the Self-as-Other.  And whereas the ego or our sense-of-self is generally abstract, the instinctual Self-as-Other is ordered, organized, principled, materialistic, and complex (many levels of quanta interrelated complexly, where the interconnections are like egoically unquantifiable iterations . . . a mathematical vastness).

But the anima's work is not done.  Her instinctual wooing now transitions into the beginning of "language lessons" for the ego.  She has always been the representative of the Self, a kind of translator, and now her translations are becoming more subtle.  When Jung positioned the "final" anima stage as characterized by Sophia, his intuition was (as usual) very sharp.  It is regrettable that he did not expand on this much.  But that doesn't mean we must go on sitting on this anonymous rock Jung left us, dumbstruck and petrified in wonder.  The analogy of Sophia is very apt, because Sophia is the lover of the Logos . . . where the Logos (in Gnosticism) is often embodied by Christ.  Sophia has "Fallen into matter" and is lost or estranged, and the Logos must descend into the world and recover her.  In this myth, the anima is wisdom, and the hero is a redemptive, spiritual discipline or drive.

More interestingly, the redemptive hero is the Logos, the Word, a creature of language.  And this we can understand as something "egoic".  But this is not the common language of human societies.  It is a language that redeems or rescues wisdom from matter or from undifferentiated unconsciousness.  Essentially, this Logos is the languaging of the instinctual Self, a way of interpreting the Self's Will and intelligence into human or egoic terms.  It is understood that much will be lost in translation . . . and that the Self can't be forced into just any language or forced to exist in language as the ego wants it to.  The Logos is a bridge from instinct into the environment of human sociality or living.  If the bridge is not built properly, it will not allow commerce between instinct and environment.

This is to say that the only thing that makes the Logos genuine (and functional) is the disciplined dedication of the ego to "truth" or gnosis . . . the translation and interpretation of instinct into adaptive living in the world.  Logos must serve adaptivity . . . and not ego-aggrandizement or tribal dogma.  The reason the heroic ego or hero archetype exists and must play such an important role in spirituality is that the ego must act or think heroically (in strict devotion to the Will of instinct) in order to facilitate instinct adaptively into the environment.  No one is going to catch us being anti-heroic most of the time, so we must develop a discipline of honor.  We must learn how to be our own judges when it comes to the facilitation of instinct and the construction of the Logos.

We learned how to become genuinely heroic and self-sacrificing in our romantic devotion to the anima . . . but this relational kind of devotion is now to be transitioned into a sense of heroic honor, a devotion to the instinctual Self and to Logos construction, which is done in the earnest attempt to understand and facilitate what the Will of the Self really is.  What this Logos is is the active participation in the self-regulation of the complex systems that we are.  The Logos is ego construction and continuous organization done with consciousness and directed at the facilitation of instinct and the efficiency with which the Logos subsystem is able to accomplish that facilitation.  Logos must be constantly revised and reorganized, as information intake is ceaseless and environment non-static.  Therefore, the construction and maintenance/organization of the Logos is a creative venture in a radically plastic medium.  It requires artistry.

And so it should come as no surprise to us that the alchemists called their magnum opus, the Art.  I am proposing that this process of Logos construction and organization is precisely what the foundational psychology of alchemy was about.  The anima plays a very important initial role in this process.

The present dream depicts a "declaration" by the instinctual process that the self-sacrifice of the heroic ego to the Solutio-Coniunctio is by no means the end of the heroic attitude . . . but merely its state change.  The "Kingdom" (Self as whole organism) still needs the ego to abide by the heroic attitude.  The idea that the Self (or anima) is a castrating Demon or that the heroic sacrifice is a total loss of egoic free will and self-determination is itself an egoic attitude that must be sacrificed.  Instinctually governed "destiny" is not an incarceration by a controlling tyrant . . . but a directedness that gives shape to the egoic path of living and channels its energy into adaptation and functionality.  This act of devotion is not a castration . . . as we are often inclined to see it.  We can observe this not only in many males fantasies (from the spiritual to the pornographic) but also historically in the ancient Attis cult, in which the male priests were supposed to castrate themselves, as if devotion required castration.

Even in its less extreme examples (e.g., Christian monasticism and various Eastern asceticisms), the theme of castration is deeply intertwined with the idea of spiritual discipline.  I would argue that this is a misunderstanding of the instinctual drive for adaptivity that informs our spirituality.  This castration for devotion's sake is "archetypal" in the sense that it is very common across cultures, but I don't think it is biologically essential.  It is an overly egoic way of looking at heroic devotion to instinctuality.  The sacrifice and demonization of the ego is a common theme in many spiritualities around the world, but these spiritualities have gone too far in their demonizations.  Such asceticism requires a dysfunctional or non-adaptive projection of egoism onto the Self.  That is, the concept of sacrifice is literalized rather than psychologized.  "Worldliness" is rejected by the ascetic in such an abstract and undifferentiating way that adaptive living is sacrificed along with non-instinctual living.

Thus, the life of the ascetic is typically a life of resisting instinctual temptations that become increasingly demonic.  Ascetics have devised the helpful "cheat" of reclusiveness and hermeticism.  I.e., the radical restructuring of the environment in which the ascetic or monk lives to remove as much survival conflict as possible.  The monk or nun then gives up the struggle with environment and genetic fitness or adaptation . . . that survival environment that most coaxes instinct out of us.  But this reclusiveness is typically dependent upon a provider or sponsor.  Just as the archetypal Eastern ascetic and mystic is dependent upon begging for basic sustenance.  But the very instinct that these ascetics followed to their gods and dogmas did not "intend" to leave them off halfway.  The instinct was meant to encourage adaptation.  Ascetics always run the risk of demonizing this instinct, the very god or Truth they initially reformed themselves for.  When this is done, the god turns against the ascetic's ego.

I feel privileged or lucky that my dream of this stage clearly spelled out the healthy way to proceed (as I was in waking life every bit as clueless as my dream ego ready to submit to a sex change was).  The psyche is a living complex system.  It is not prone to absolutes like the sacrifice of some of its vital components for abstract reasons.  Its most radical movements come as state changes.  When we look egoically at water as liquid, gas, and solid in its different states, we see three radically different things.  But on the molecular level, this difference is much less apparent.  Looking at water molecules in these various states, we see the same substance but in different states of motion.  We might say then that our egoic perspective imposes boundaries of differentiation on things that are not necessarily true or as true of the things in themselves.  And the basis of our boundary making is egoism.  That is, liquid water can be drunk.  Boiling water or steam will burn us.  Frozen water can freeze us (if we are in contact with it long enough) or, if we walk on it, could either cause us to slip or even give way and crumble beneath us.

These perceptions and classifications of water's states are not "wrong", but they are determined by the fixedness and limitation of our human or egoic perspective.  What I mean to draw from this analogy is that the psyche may seem to "freeze" or "vaporize", but it is still the psyche.  The lesson of Logos is that we lose adaptivity when we insist on seeing all difference egoically, abstractly, categorically.  Logos allows us to see into (imagine or reconstruct) the substance of things more accurately.  Things Other do not exist entirely as they appear to us or as they can be used by or affect us.  Living things have their own drives and intentionalities.  It isn't all about "us", the egos that perceive.  Substance of Otherness is valid whether we perceive it or not.

It's a simple lesson, but it is one of the most common flaws in spiritualistic thinking: egocentrism.  Part of overly-rigid egocentrism is the idea that the ego that goes through a state change or reorganization "dies" or no longer is.  We tend to not see ourselves (our egos) as as plastic as we really are (and must be in order to survive our information-rich environments).  Even relatively small reorganizations of ego tend to feel like deaths to us . . . because our sense of self tends to become very ossified.  The anima work is a process that dissolves this rigidity and reacquaints the ego with its instinctual source of organization and drive.  The heroic attitude is not temporary, because it will always need to be constantly devoted to the reorganizations of its egoic plasticity in a way that allows that plasticity to accommodate or facilitate instinct and adaptation.

When the ego accepts its heroic motivations substantially enough to transition from a false sense of rigidity to an acceptance of ever-organizing plasticity (its "true nature"), then we will probably experience a state change in which erotic polarization of ego and anima will dissolve.  I.e., ego and heroic ego will also merge into one.  Moving from fixedness to plasticity is like a movement into death, apparent formlessness, drift, oceanic potentiality.  We cease to recognize our sense of self as a singular and permanent thing.  But as we fall into this drift heroically (or with a sense of responsibility and devotion), we are stuck with the necessity of creating a lifeline to the Self.  This creation is the beginning of the Logos . . . and its first lessons come from the equally transitioned anima.  She "teaches" the ego by acknowledging that the ego is heroically responsible for the Self and for the understanding of the Self (through the construction of the Logos).  The anima doesn't give the ego Logos.  She certifies that the ego will need to create it.  The ego has been more or less unconsciously creating it throughout the anima work . . . in the valuation of the anima, but now the Logos clearly becomes a co-creation of conscious and unconscious, a call and response.  The ego says (like those annoyingly memorable wireless commercials, "Can you here me now?" and listens for any kind of reply or acknowledgment from the Self.  Logos, in this sense, is a devotional creation designed to serve and suit the Self.  The Logos is deemed "fit" when the Self acknowledges it or uses it as a conduit or bridge.  But this fitness may not be permanent.  Even a functioning Logos circuit will degrade and need to be rebuilt many times . . . or perhaps abandoned for a ground-up reconstruction.

This is an experience that artists are very familiar with . . . but not every person is an artist.  It can be hard for non-artists to learn the nature of creativity and creation.  The Jungian emphasis on active imagination fantasy and its conflation with creativity is generally not very helpful.  True creativity is a disciplined craft of coordination between unconscious and conscious intelligences.  It is rigorous and transformative (i.e., filled with numerous sacrifices).  It's true that a later stage in the alchemical opus was associated with "Child's Play" . . . but this stage was equally characterized by the rotation of this Child's Play with "Women's Work".

Still, the anima work is not much characterized by any kind of play or routine clean-up work.  It is filled with anxieties and wonders.  We can conjure up fantasies involving our animas through active imagination, but the actual experience of the heroic sacrifice is very tangible and likely to begin with feelings of confusion or dread or directionlessness.  We are, at that point, like men fallen overboard clinging to some random piece of driftwood.  But from this driftwood we will eventually have to MacGyver ourselves a functional Logos boat.

The construction and revision of the Logos will remain an ongoing endeavor for the rest of our lives . . . because that's what the Logos is, a constantly adapting structure that must respond to diverse, often unpredictable, real-world events.  This Logos work continues long after the anima work is finished . . . but it is founded on the devotion to and valuation of instinct that we learned through the anima.

The movement from the more erotic anima to the anima-as-Sophia introducing us to the Logos (and the accompanying movement of romantic heroism to spiritual or gnostic heroism) is a transcendent high point in the anima work (although this step forward also requires a loss or death of a previous "good thing").  Though this lesson might have to be repeated (or repeatedly dreamt and analyzed) many times before it really takes, after it does, we do not turn around and head back upward out of the psyche's darkness.  Beyond this point of "enlightenment" there is more, and more significant, sacrifice.  Not to mention, some potentially painful revelations about the path the anima worker has been devoted to.  I will deal with these things in the two remaining dreams.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 12:18:59 PM by Matt Koeske »
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]