Author Topic: The Anima Work, I: Introduction  (Read 5714 times)

Matt Koeske

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The Anima Work, I: Introduction
« on: April 28, 2007, 12:06:28 PM »
Over the next weeks (or at whatever pace this project unfolds) I am going to write about the anima/animus work.  This is not meant to be a definitive statement on everything one can say about the animi, but rather an outline of the stages of the anima process with specific regard to the goal and completion of this process.

It is fairly obvious that Jung's handling of the anima and animus is unsatisfactory, largely for its sexism.  This has been recognized for a long time, and many Jungians have tried to remedy the problem with varying levels of success.  But, despite Jung's blatant sexism in his characterizations of the animi, his more subtle notions of (what I call) the animi work are not so stunted.  He gives (across his various writings) a fairly comprehensive portrayal of the anima stages.  His comprehensiveness is surprising considering the seeming prejudice he maintained about these archetypes. 

As (I feel) was the tendency of Jung in general, he left us with a gap between the depth of his professional writing and the extent of his personal Work . . . leaving his person a kind of mystique that has since caused nothing but trouble.  I have no idea why he did this and will not speculate on it here.  The important thing is that, as is so typical with his followers, the Jungians have whitewashed much of the sexism attached to the animi archetypes without really clarifying the nature of the animi work and what it means or how it is either observed or carried out.

It is my (perhaps grand) hope to be able to contribute something to this muddle.  As I was embroiled in the anima work, I certainly gained an insight into a valuable experience, but I had no reason to believe my experience was anything but typical and archetypal (common even).  Although I never found a Jungian book about the anima that I found satisfying while I was doing the anima work (and there still exist no books to my knowledge that satisfactorily address the animus), this mattered little to me.  Books were not necessary.  The process itself was the best teacher about the process a person could have had.

But as I entered the Jungian (online) community for the first time a little less than a year ago, I was very surprised to see how poorly understood the anima was among both men and women.  There was plenty of anima talk to be heard, but so little of it seemed to stem from experience, instead seeming like very simplistically interpreted notions from Jung's or the Jungians' writing.  I.e., "text book" knowledge.  Text book knowledge is next to worthless when we are talking about what an archetypal process really is (not to mention what it feels like).  This is one of the reasons I am trying to frame the animi in the context of the Work.  These archetypes lose their meaning when they are abstracted into the realm of ideas.  I see value in intellectual/scientific discussions about how the animi evolved, what aspect of our biology they correspond to, what instinctual forces they represent, etc.  But in order to discuss how they feel to us, what they mean to us, and what we can do about them, we need an experiential, non-abstract approach.

As for my particular knowledge of this subject, my "qualifications", (as with anyone's) these are certainly a matter for debate (and I welcome any of this, as it can only help us both/all).  I don't know yet how universal my experience of the anima really was.  I expect that, although certainly archetypal, it should in no way be considered definitive.  We are talking about symbolic, imagistic representations of (what I believe is) a biological, instinctual process.  All anima experiences are highly personalized . . . and if anything, my dreams and creative writings have demonstrated an exceptionally personalized (as opposed to "classically archetypal") symbol system.

Still, I think there is value in writing about my experiences.  In fact, I think it would be valuable for all of those people who deeply engage in the animi process to write about their experiences.  Cumulatively, this would provide an excellent body of phenomenological data from which to draw more scientific, universal hypotheses.  I would also personally be interested to see how much the experience of others has deviated from my own . . . and to try to understand why and what these deviations might mean.

The anima work for me occurred relatively early in my life (see my post on Agism in Jungian Psychology for a discussion of the animi relative to periods of life/maturation).  The bulk of it (one might say, "the coniunctio") took place 15 years ago . . . although I had to process and painstakingly differentiate its meaning for a number of years after the anima work ended (or was "depotentiated").  The emblematic sequence in the Rosarium Philosophorum was extremely significant for me at this time (and still is to this day).  All I will say about this here is that, in my opinion, the anima work ends/is depotentiated after the coniunctio and during the putrefactio (a stage of disengagement and differentiation).  The stages from the recognition of the anima (as a valuable and attractive and necessary being), the obsession/possession, through the coniunctio can run very quickly.  I believe they are instinctually driven and not subject to will, ability, or any kind of enlightenment.  They will run their course in a few years (or perhaps even in a matter of months) if left alone to function naturally (and contained in a kind of alchemical vessel that is hermetically sealed against the intrusions of the egoic, social world).

That is, I see these stages as delayed only by an egoic refusal to let them unfold as they "want" to.  But as this embrace of the animi instinct tends to demand an almost absolute destruction/dissolution/dismemberment of the ego and its will to run the personality dictatorially, it is obvious why most people will resist this with all their might until the neurotic complex the tension produces finds a way to undermine the individual's existence so severely, s/he must start paying attention to the long-repressed instinct.

This is the scenario in which Jung (and the Jungians) discovered the animi, and so it is no wonder that so many negative and sexist descriptions became attached to the archetype.  There is perhaps a certain shame to living "functionally" for 40 years or so to then be suddenly laid low by what seems to be (and I have elsewhere argued, is) an adolescent fantasy.  The destruction of my ego during this process was no less shameful to me . . . and in fact I feel it ultimately did more damage to my egoic life "in the world" than it would have if I had experienced it in middle age.  That is, the animi work re-valuates one's life priorities.  If one comes upon this in middle age, assuming they have already established themselves as a socially function individual, found a career and started a family, maybe developed a professional persona of no small fortification and complexity, s/he may have some leeway to "drop out" for a few years, a safety net (or alchemical vas) of economic and social support that allows him/her to turn inward and re-value the instinctual Self.  Of course, it is perhaps even more likely that the animi work will provoke adolescent outbursts, "mid-life crises", that ruin marriages, lose jobs, etc.

But, for me, the entire societal work of building a career and an ego/persona identity in the world was waylaid by the anima work.  My system of valuation was radically altered before I had an identity in the world . . . and in some ways, this made entering into the world much more challenging (and no doubt contributed to my heretical and antagonistic disposition).  So, either way, there is a great deal to lose.  If I can think of one person who went through the anima work in an almost ideal crucible (i.e., with the least fallout imaginable), it would be Jung himself, who was buoyed by his very wealthy wife and an already established clinical practice that allowed him a professional outlet to utilize what he called the "mana-personality" as a healer and explorer of the unconscious.  As the animi work encourages such exploration and archetypal inflation, I can think of no better job than Jungian analyst for "sublimating it" . . . well, perhaps artist would be an even more ideal application (unless, like me, one was a starving artist).  But Jung was able to practice his art at this time without worrying about trying to make a living off of it . . . so relatively (and in a sense, literally) speaking, he was able to "live the dream".

Of course, he seems to have had some destructive affairs with other women at this time . . . but he and Emma managed to preserve their marriage in spite of this.

....

In a series of installments to follow, I am going to relate some of the dreams I had 15 years ago, offer a little interpretation (relating them to the stages of an archetypal/instinctual . . . and alchemical . . . process), and discuss a bit of how I felt/perceived these dreams and their accompanying presence, how the anima impacted me.  There will also, no doubt, be some speculation about what this all means, how much universality it expressed.  Some of these installments will be fairly short, others, probably quite a bit longer.  I will follow the process linearly, starting from a very telling "initiation dream" and ending with two final "depotentiation dreams" . . . and some reflections on the after effects of the anima work (i.e., what actually happens to the anima and to the ego after the anima work is complete).

Before I end this introduction I would like to express a mixed feeling lingering in me regarding what I am about to undertake.  On one hand, I hope (and believe) that this project will have some meaning or value to other people.  It is this hope, this belief that is driving me to write about these very personal things.  And it seems to me that this attempt will be in many ways novel.  I at least know that I had no orientation from other writers (or friends, mentors, etc) when I was going through the anima work . . . and I would have greatly benefited from some.  One of the greatest and most typical concerns of an individual ensnared in the animi instinct is that they are going crazy.  The animi work is typically accompanied by a depression and what manifests as an inflation psychosis.  The depression (to simplify drastically) is the result of depotentiating the ego and its control over the personality.  The inflation psychosis (again, very simplistically) is a product of being powerless in the radiance of the Self's numen (and inevitably interpreting this new power source as a Mother lode that one can live off of parasitically, usurping its libido for the sake of the old ego-position).  I will touch on both the depression and the inflation in the subsequent chapters, but these subjects are really quite vast and should be discussed in more detail elsewhere.

So I recognize a need in the Jungian community for people who have gone through this process (with eyes open) to actually talk about what it is, what it really is . . . and what it feels like, and the practicalities of how one might come to deal with its seemingly destructive side effects.  As I seem to have some recognition of this need and perhaps enough knowledge of the subject to at least contribute more than a mystified delusion in the attempt to convey it, I ultimately feel an obligation to speak about it, to share what I have experienced in the hope that there are one or two people out there who (like me) would greatly appreciate the notes from a fellow traveler.

On the other hand, there must be a reason that such experiences of the animi work have so rarely (if ever?) been conveyed in writing or publicly.  It's the kind of absence or lack that is itself so resounding that it acquires a dark presence, or in Jungian terms, shadow.  The animi work (it seems to me) is definitely in the Jungian shadow.  As I recognize this, I also recognize that much of what I will write here will effect some Jungians like any expression from the shadow would, causing consternation, anxiety, perhaps even resentment or hostility.  This inevitable reaction (tempered only because so few people are bound to read these entires) gives me pause.  It puts me into an archetypal position that can do nothing but dehumanize me . . . and this is the exact opposite of what I'd like this project to do (for both the subject matter and for me personally).

That is, if I am bringing something out of the Jungians shadow, I will inevitably fall into the archetypal dynamic connected to the godman.  The godman breaks down into the dual archetypes (more accurately, polarities) of messiah and scapegoat (as we see dramatized in Christianity).  The messiah polarity is that which brings "new knowledge" from the divine or unconscious realm that is taken as heroic or attributed a salvation potential.  The scapegoat polarity is seen in the "false prophet" who commits the sin of "imitating god", the sin of hubris . . . or in Jungian terms, archetypal inflation.  Both polarities are always present in the archetype of the godman.

I hope to be able to do everything I can to diffuse this archetypal projection by humanizing my portrayal of the anima work . . . but it would be foolish of me to think I could control the reactions of others (especially understanding how shadowed this topic is in the Jungian mindset).  I will do my best to keep a discussion of the inflation that differentiates it from a valid "transcendence" right by my side throughout the following chapters.  That is, I will make every effort to differentiate what the inflation wants to make of the anima work from what the anima work really is . . . and I hope the reader will see that this work is much more human than it is divine because of this conscious differentiation.

Beyond that, I feel inclined to issue a blanket warning.  Although it is all too common in the Jungian community, the individuation process should not be fetishized.  The process does not (as Jung wrote in at least one place) grant the individuant "mana" or special, libidic power over others.  Such mana is a transference, countertransference matter entirely.  That is, it is always a matter of archetypal projections, not of ego identity.  The inclination of many Jungians to see mana in the individuation process, in the Work, is always only the product of fetishization.  The Work is just an instinctual, entirely human process of valuation transformation.  It is not an empowerment or enlightenment process.  So I warn all of us to stay vigilant in regard to our own desire to fetishize the Work, to draw ideological conclusions and make value judgments based on literalizations of the symbols and numinous feelings the Work inevitably produces in those who pursue it (on any level and to whatever extent).  These imaginal expressions are only as-ifs that tell us how something feels to us, never indications of a universal and worldly truth.

That said, it is simply inevitable that we will fetishize the Work until we are well into the process.  I would even suggest that there is a distinct need for a second opus (beyond the one Jung outlines with help from the adulterated Rosarium Philosophorum) largely because the fetishization of the first opus must be depotentiated in order for the ego/Self relationship to become entirely healthy and functional.  So nothing I or anyone can say will prevent one from fetishizing individuation until that one has pursued individuation to the point of depotentiating the fetish/inflation.  Maybe this very expression itself can only have a negative/fetishizing effect.  But my hope is that, in at least mentioning it and prescribing caution, the vigilance required to diffuse the fetish/inflation/projection/transference will be implanted (if only dormantly) as a seedling in all of our minds.

Beyond this, I certainly welcome feedback of any kind.  And if anyone feels that my portrayals of the anima work are hubristic and delusional (or simply "wrongheaded") I hope these feelings will not be kept inside to stew in the shadow but can be brought out into an open dialog in this forum.  The topic at hand only stands to benefit from diversity and transparency, in my opinion.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 12:17:43 PM by Matt Koeske »
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Keri

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Re: The Anima Work: Introduction
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2007, 01:15:33 AM »
And again, rather synchronously, this seems to be exactly what I need right now.
 :D Keri
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
  - Leonard Cohen, "Come Healing"

Let me be in the service of my Magic, and let my Magic be Good Medicine.  -- Dominique Christina

Keri

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Re: The Anima Work: Introduction
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2007, 01:50:24 AM »
Dear Matt,

When I read your work, the name "B" keeps coming to my mind.  I think you are B in a sense.  In Quinn's The Story of B, "B" of course stands for Blasphemer, as "A" used to stand for Adulterer.  But B is actually a name given to the protagonist by his enemies, those who didn't understand him or his message.  He adopted it as his own because he actually did understand it was appropriate, even more than his enemies did, but for reasons they couldn't even grasp.  B is "the message" and anyone who is the message is B.  The message in Quinn's book is different from yours, but here is the connection I make in my mind...  It seems to me that the Jungian crowd "hates" you because they can see that you speak with the surety of someone who IS the message, gained by experience.  You are "Jungian" because that is the language you use, but your "answers" come from your experience.  Those who know Jung's works backward and forward, but don't have the experience, can only parrot him.  If you come up with an answer that is different from what his might have been, they can only believe that you're wrong.  But you don't have to agree with him on every point for me to know that you have both had the experience and are absolutely "correct."  In fact, it seems to me that anyone who undergoes the Work will have their own spin/perspective, although the basic principles or common experiences remain the same.  Some very important words above are that "anyone who is the message is B."  To me, this means that you personally are not someone to be worshipped as messiah or reviled as scapegoat; anyone who goes through the process and then attempts to share it with others can expect to suffer the same fate (though yours may be more polarizing because your particular perspective is better able to see and expose the Shadow).  Personally, I’m grateful for your courage.

Keri
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
  - Leonard Cohen, "Come Healing"

Let me be in the service of my Magic, and let my Magic be Good Medicine.  -- Dominique Christina

Matt Koeske

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Re: The Anima Work: Introduction
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2007, 01:57:13 PM »
Thanks, Keri!  It is a rare (and rather lovely) experience to be encouraged in one's blaspheming.

When I was in Jr. high school, some friends nicknamed me the Anti-Christ, mostly because I was not a baptized Catholic (like them), but also because I was always questioning religious authority.  I didn't much appreciate the name at the time, but it seems they were onto something I hadn't yet admitted to myself, i.e., that I was destined for a life of blasphemy and heresy  (-)dev2(-).

Some very important words above are that "anyone who is the message is B."  To me, this means that you personally are not someone to be worshipped as messiah or reviled as scapegoat; anyone who goes through the process and then attempts to share it with others can expect to suffer the same fate (though yours may be more polarizing because your particular perspective is better able to see and expose the Shadow).  Personally, I’m grateful for your courage.

Very astute observation . . . and it took me a long time to be able to see this clearly (I probably still don't see it clearly enough).  In Jung-speak "anyone who is the message is B" translate as "archetypal projection".  I have always pulled in a lot of projections (mostly shadow/scapegoat stuff).  Even as a kid it was just uncanny how often I was accused of doing terrible things I never really did or of just being a "bad influence" or "bad seed".  I've struggled a great deal with this complex.  Why does it happen?  What is it I do to encourage it or bring the projections upon myself? 

My goal (socially speaking and regarding this complex) was always to "become human", to be seen as a human individual and not an archetype.  At first I figured I would just "defeat" the complex by force of will.  I would "whiten" myself so people couldn't project shadow onto me.  Didn't work  (-)smblsh(-).  I can remember sitting in my classes in college playing the model student, saying nothing contradictory, being polite, mature, engaged . . . showing nothing but enthusiasm for the subject and the professor's lecture.  It made no difference.  They just "suspected me of something subversive".  Not all of them of course.  Just the creative writing professors.  I terrified them.  Some of them couldn't even talk in my presence one on one.  A grave expression would come over the faces of normally "exuberantly professorial" professors.  One woman (the department head even) refused to read some of my poetry (submitted for a required assignment) . . . without explanation!  I just received the poem back with the comment in red ink reading "I refuse to read this"  (-)laugh2(-).  What terrible crime this poem was up to was utterly beyond me.  Ah, my school days!

It wasn't until my late twenties/early thirties that I started to accept that the complex was not just a "mistake" that could be rationally dispatched.  But like you said, it's because the message is blasphemous or challenging that the archetype comes into play.  It is not within my power to throw it off in the hope of being humanized by the people making the projection.  In fact, I've found that what those inclined to project the shadow/blasphemer/scapegoat onto me hate the most is any attempt on my part to prove to them that I am human.  It is this effort that drives them over the edge  ;D.  "How dare he try to tell me he's a human being!" 

I've come to learn a great deal about dehumanization . . . as a psychological phenomenon.

Of course, the even stickier problem is that the scapegoat is only half an archetype.  If I thought that being treated like the shadow was hard, it was nothing compared to the burden of the other polarity of the archetype: the shaman or messiah.  But whenever one projects the scapegoat, the shaman polarity is always unconsciously attached.  The mana-personality, as Jung called it.  In effect, when someone projects or "gives away" their "inner scapegoat" or denies their own shadow, they also give away all access to their inner shaman or "godman or godwoman".  They don't mean to do this, of course . . . but they don't understand that the two are inextricably connected ("the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" as the Psalm states it; the notion itself is the cornerstone of the Christian myth).

What I came to realize (only very recently) was happening was that the projection of the scapegoat divests one of his or her relationship to the inner shaman/guide, and this divestment gives mana (transference empowerment) to the object onto which the projection is made.  As that object/person is empowered with the mana-personality, the one projecting feels diminished.  In tribal language, the scapegoat/shaman has "stolen his/her soul" or placed a curse on him/her.

This was basically what I had been "doing" all my life (even as a child) . . . of course with no intention of even consciousness of it whatsoever.  I didn't realize that we are all "hopelessly tribalistic or primitivistic" at our core, regardless of our modern trappings.  That is, we just cannot not believe in magics, spirits, supernatural forces or stop gravitating toward participation mystique, tribal identification (and scarification/ritual marking), some kind of instinctual unconsciousness.  We are just barely conscious, I think . . . however much we pride ourselves on being "superior" to other animals.  I don't mean to condemn that.  It's a very powerful gravity for our species, and the more we try to deny it or "rationalize" it away, the more it will control us.  It "just feels right" to live instinctually.  When we can't manage to do this, we develop "neuroses" and psychosomatic diseases.  But finding a way to be instinctual (tribal or primitive) while still being able to function in and adapt to modern society is the real problem.

Yes tribalism is "right", but it's also impossible.  So we have to move on.  I think we are facing "evolutionary pressure" here in the modern (or post-modern) era.  That is, we are in conflict with our environment (modern, "global" society and the "Information Age").  We are not in the state of equilibrium with our environment which nature or life seeks.  Here in limbo we have to find a way to adapt in order to survive.  Neo-primitivism is not a viable solution.  Modernity is, I believe, a natural and unavoidable human development.  We might try to obliterate modern society and all the otherness of opposing tribes (as was the general thrust of the Roman Christian movement from its onset at least up through the Dark Ages; i.e., the real social "contribution" of Christianity was the destruction of modernism and the middle class, rational, technology-driven, basically democratic social construct) . . . but it only delays the inevitable (i.e., modernism).  If you crush society and otherness with immense ferocity, you might be able to stall it 1000 years even, but 1000 years in evolutionary time is no big deal.  Modernism (which I think first peaked in the early Common Era Roman Empire and has returned again post-Enlightenment) will always resurface.  And it will resurface because it is more adaptive (for the species) than tribalism.  Not because tribalism is "too primitive" or inferior in some "intellectual" way, but because tribalism has a maladaptive method of dealing with otherness and diversity.  It is the extra-tribal ethic that tribalism does not adequately address.

This wriggles into my personal life in the way I have always approached tribes.  I don't belong well.  I don't much like unconsciousness (probably because I've too often been its victim).  It is a kind of "rationalist" instinct in me.  I don't just accept and believe things because others do or because people with credentials tell me I should.  I am a pest.  I have to know whyWhy should I believe?  And what is it exactly that I am believing?  I am dissatisfied with totems, objects of "religious" or tribal significance that are meant to protect unconsciousness.  That is, I don't see them as imbued with magics or gods or spirits . . . these things that can't be questioned and investigated.

This is why I've come to call myself an atheist (Much as B embraces his Blasphemer title in Quinn's book).  It isn't because I am empty of spiritual feeling or that I rationalistically pooh-pooh religious experience.  It's because I don't see gods in the totems that most religious people cling to.  I see the gods inside, figuratively, as psychic phenomenon.  In alchemical terms, this would correspond to the extraction of spirit from matter.  The recognition that the psyche, though immaterial, is real and really all-important for our species.  The psyche doesn't require literalization (projection into matter) in order to become valid.  This seems "obvious", but I think that even in the Jungian and New Age communities that know (or should know) all about the psyche, the main religious impetus is toward totemism.  There is a great hunger in these communities for "literal proof" or for matter to leap up and abide by psyche's dictations in some miraculous way. 

That is, we might believe the spirits are "real", that faith-healing literally transmits magical, intelligent energy, that Kundalini is rising and activating our chakras, that the stars and planets actually dictate our individual lives and destinies.  In other words (as you brought up previously), animism.  This is our "natural religion".  The Jungian and New Age communities don't want to alchemically extract the spirit from matter.  This sounds nice and spiritualistic in that occult, alchemical language, but it is an offense to the pull of animism.  That's why the alchemists rightly called their opus "contra naturum".  Nature for our species is animistic (but what animists often fail to recognize is that we also have what I'm now calling a "super-adaptive instinct" that can direct and adapt our animistic, tribal instincts to new environments).  The animist in us sees such an extraction (of spirit from matter) as an atheism or even a god-murder.  To make matters worse, the extracted spirit (which I'm inclined to equate with the so-called "white stone" or "white tincture", the product of the first opus) no longer seems quite so godlike or animal/instinctual.  In its distilled, separated form, "spirit" is very human.  It reeks of our anthropomorphic consciousness.

The great fear of the "inner animist" is that we will discover that "we are God".  Totemic religion is expressly designed to prevent this realization.  I usually call it the "Self-Deification Taboo".  The totemists' "party line" is that such "meddling" is bound to throw us into hubris or spark the cardinal sin of Pride (deadliest of the Seven).  But of course, that's the taboo speaking.  The truth is not that the extraction of spirit from matter "overthrows" God and puts humanity is "his" place.  The truth is that this extraction, this white tincture, forces us to realize that we are responsible for God and the gods.  They are not there to provide for us.  We are here to facilitate them and to keep them (our instincts or archetypes) adaptive or "alive".  The self-deification taboo is meant to protect us from the massive burden of responsibility for our instinctual religiosity.  Such responsibility can only be shouldered consciously.

This is also why the mana-personality is triggered during this part of the Work.  Tribalistically speaking, we have divested the world of gods, and so it seems that their mana has been absorbed into us.  The psyche bursts into life as we start to value it . . . and we begin to see that the gods are no longer entirely "out there", but are within us . . . and even, to some degree, at our mercy.  That is, even if they can control us just as well from within, we also see that they are "trapped" in us, and need us to "flow into the world".  We are the prison of the gods . . . which is the recognition of the primal crime of consciousness.  And is also why we have to learn how to be ethical and responsible for our treatment of the gods.

This is all a very roundabout way of trying to understand (among other things) my complex and the way I have to relate to it in order to adapt to life with it.  The problem with the "message" that my persona and ideas inevitably represent is that they are (as you say, blasphemously) desecrating the taboos of the animistic mindset.  My "crime" is god-murder, and that's a doozy.  Now our rationalistic, modernism-addled minds will tell us that a fellow like me is just stubborn or narcissistic or "aggressive" or pigheaded (as we now pathologize the mana of the unconscious).  But these designations are not really, not consciously, afforded mana, and what is the universal factor in all of my projection-bearing experiences is that I was given (grudgingly) mana.  My stubborn, narcissistic, aggressive, pigheadedness diminished (or rather, was felt to diminish) others.  From observing this dynamic, I was able to see that I had "committed" a much more archetypal, primal crime . . . something heinous enough to actually spark a "mana-transaction".

So, what I mean to say is that my past (and present) conflicts with some other Jungians aren't only matters of the authority of experience vs. the authority of scholarship (although this is probably a factor).  I also think that it is my specifically anti-totem stance, which is perceived by totemists even if it isn't perceived consciously.  I am "dangerous" (imbued with mana) because I am bloodied with deicide, and it is an "aura" I cannot hide no matter how hard I try.  Of course this "deicide" is a matter of actual experience, but we all like to think we have a profound experience of the psyche . . . and maybe we do.  We just don't all have the same experience. 

The preferred Jungian and New Age approach to the psyche is a totemic, tribal one.  Most of the people it attracts are those who want their feelings of lost or damaged tribalism to be reestablished, re-rooted.  They want (what bluesman/Baptist preacher, Rev. Gary Davis--and other gospel singers--called) "Pure Religion".  "You must have that Pure Religion.  Must have religion in your soul converted.  Must have that Pure Religion, or you can't cross here."  That's the mark of the human tribe, homo religioso.

That is, they take the whole myth of religiosity, and they say, "I want to enter the myth only at this one point and stay fixed there."  But difficult people like me say, "I want to be everywhere in the myth at once."  I want to empathize with all of the characters, all of the emotions.  I don't want this Pure Religion to serve and protect me (as a totem), I want to experience all of it and help sustain it.  Such religion needs sustainers, I feel.  We can't just all take it for granted, expect manna from heaven.  The totems become depleted over time, because (like all egoic creeds and dogmas) they are inflexible, nonadaptive.  Even though they are meant to designate a natural instinct of archetype (a god), they are not adaptive like natural things are.  They are "subroutines".

They only way they survive conflict and change is by becoming adaptable . . . like folktales.  When a folktale fails to hold meaning for the folk, it vanishes.  And as Jung constantly decried, this is what is happening to the gods in modern society.  Large-scale extinction.  Faced with this predicament, we have two basic options: 1) destroy modernism and reestablish Utopian, tribal "unity", or 2) find a way to adapt the gods to the modern.  Jung found himself caught up between these options . . . but tended to lean more to the prior.  He had difficulty seeing the value in modernism and tended to romanticize more "mythic" or animistic eras (especially pre-Enlightenment Christianity, disregarding the appalling social conditions of this "spiritual" society).

But his actual work, his writing was, I think, a very noble attempt to bring the gods into the modern.  He somewhat famously lamented toward the end of his life that he felt he had failed in his mission to convince modern people that there was a "buried treasure in the field".  But I think it would be more accurate to say that he "failed" (of course the task is impossible for one person alone) to effectively demonstrate how the gods could be adapted to modernity.  He moved away from his more scientific/gnostic quest in his later years.  His libido became more invested in the unconscious, in instinct and therefore in tribalism and its "pure" religiosity.

Although this was no doubt "right" for his personal myth, it has been (I feel) destructive for his Analytical Psychology, because it is scientifically regressive.  It was, as he liked to say, an abaissment du niveau mental (lowering of mental level), which is essential for "merging with instinct or the unconscious".  But this is not "knowledge", per se.  When you hand this "idea" to someone who has never individuated from the tribe and learned how to "extract spirit from matter", you merely hand them another totem that reinforces their unconsciousness.

I don't blame Jung for this "mistake".  It was perfectly natural (her was" being human"), and the outcome perhaps uncontrollable (he was never very positive about those followers who were "of the tribe of Jung" . . . and was glad he wasn't).  Jung (in the last chapter of Memories, Dreams, Reflections) tries to disown his "shamanism".  He say he is not a Sage, but merely an individual.  But this is shortsighted.  It is the same mistake that I have been making.  Yes, of course what he's saying is true.  He is not an archetype.  But the archetype of Jung the Shaman or Sage is a god that Jung bears some responsibility for.  It cannot be simply disowned.  It is the "2 million year old man" that Jung felt was at the core of human consciousness, and it needs to be communed with, treated with respect, listened to . . . not merely obeyed unconsciously.  We are responsible for these gods.  Most people who looked to Jung saw only the shaman, the mana-personality (just as many of them saw the scapegoat/blasphemer as they did the shaman).

I think he wanted to somewhat disown the mana at the end of his life.  But the mana (though often painful to bear) is itself another god to whom we must make sacrifices and do service.  We have to do our best to give it an outlet into the world, a comfortable space where we have set up a suitable shrine for it.  That's no guarantee that it won't be sacked and pillaged . . . but it is ultimately irresponsible to do nothing to protect the god against this, however inevitable.

In the end, I think Jung took the path of the man and not the path of the shaman.  He turned inward and served himself, but allowed his personage (or "the message") to be left largely in the hands of his followers (who still existed in a state of participation mystique with it).  They could not really hear when he said, "I am just a man, now let me be," because they did not know how to understand him as just a man.  They didn't know how to humanize him (taking back their mana-transferences).  Jung the human individual is much more vast and mysterious and hard to relate to for Jungians than Jung the shama is.  They have largely failed to understand his personal myth (which we have to admit was immense and complex by anyone's standards).  Even in death, the mana-personality imprisons Jung the human individual . . . who has been, most regrettably, forgotten, swept into the shadow.

It is that human aspect of Jung I most identify with and feel a great sorrow and empathy for.  Jung managed to show modern people how they might become tribal, returning to the unconscious, but he didn't manage to show them how to become individuals . . . which was (in my opinion) his own greatest achievement.  The model of individuality Jung left behind has been swallowed into the shadow of tribal Jungianism.  It seems to me a great slander, a crime for us to be so negligent and selfish.

We Jungians are like grave robbers.

Yours,
Matt

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]