Author Topic: The Anima Work, II: Inauguration Dream  (Read 3807 times)

Matt Koeske

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The Anima Work, II: Inauguration Dream
« on: May 30, 2007, 05:39:46 PM »
The Anima Work: Inauguration Dream

I was ascending a vast flight of stairs out of a valley in a local city park.  I had a meeting with the devil to get to.  It seemed I had to negotiate for my soul.

At the top of the stairs, I came to an open place with a picnic bench.  The devil (who looked like a normal man) and a few other people sat at the table.  I sat down across from the devil and conversed with him about what was going to happen.

On my left, a woman began to become distracting.  She was raving mad and seemed to have some desire to disrupt my conversation or demand my attention.  I wanted to ignore her, but she became too annoying.  Trying to force myself to ignore her, I refused to look at her . . . but she grabbed my left arm.  I tried to pull away, but her grip was so powerful, her strength so (surprisingly) greater than mine, I was absolutely helpless.

She took out a syringe with her other hand, and absolutely subduing me with her gripping hand, she plunged the syringe into my captive inner forearm.  I was terrified now.  The syringe was filled with mercury.  She pushed down the plunger and the mercury coursed through my veins.  I was furious at her, but could do nothing.

I felt myself dying.  I was paralyzed and my life was being stilled as if I was turning to stone.  I wondered what would become of me, if I would survive, how I would be changed, if I would exist in any form after death.

This dream came at least a few months before the rest of the anima dreams (which all came together in a streak over a period of a couple months) . . . and I didn't immediately realize it was really part of the series.  When I had this dream, I knew nothing of alchemy or of the principle role of Mercurius in the alchemical opus . . . but I learned about these things (through Jung) shortly afterward.

I knew only that mercury was poisonous.  Still, the image of this dream and especially the feeling of helplessness and dying was extremely powerful for me.  Mercury became a personal symbol for me (appearing in a number of my writings at the time) of a "transformational poison".  I wrote a blues song about this dream and a story in which a man is poisoned by his wife, who places a drop of mercury in his water glass every night.  The man is later reborn in a new form.  Again, this was before I had read Jung's alchemical writings (although I had begun reading other works by Jung at this time).

Nearly a decade later (after processing a great deal of this psychic experience), I wrote a poem that drew from this forced poisoning.

Rite of Passage

A messenger arrived at my doorstep
with a message for me.
“Hold out your hand,” he said.
I held out my hand and he withdrew
a small arrowhead dripping with poison from his bag
and stabbed it into my palm.
700 things rushed through my head:
to crumple to my knees,
to choke him until either he or I breathed his last,
to scream at the heavens,
to run down the street shedding my clothes,
700 things, and he stared into my eyes curiously
and noticed all 700 floating by.

I looked down at my wound and then back at the messenger.
“Is this all there is?” I asked.
“No,” he replied,
“an old man sends this message to you,
an old man who shares your name
and claims he has grown old with your years.”
I looked down at my wound and then back at the messenger.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied,
“the old man received this message from a young boy,
a young boy who shares your name and claimed the old man
had hoarded all of the years
that were rightfully his.”

I looked down at my wound and then back to the messenger and smiled.
“I have grown immune to this poison,” I said.
The messenger tipped his hat and left.
I continued to stand on my doorstep smiling,
sucking at my hand.

What was maybe most striking about this dream was my absolute helplessness to resist the injection of mercury from this much smaller woman.  I in no way wanted this (although one could say that coming to see the devil to negotiate for one's soul should leave one expecting some kind of transformation a la a "devil's bargain").  It was not at all what I expected . . . and I did not understand initially that the madwoman was extracting the devil's price for him.  One might also say that the devil here seems to represent the Self, and is therefore a prefiguration of what I now call the Shadow-Self (but this is the lesson of another, much later dream series).

Before I discuss the portrayal of the anima in this dream, I'd like to offer a little background.  At this time (my late teens), I was severely anima-obsessed.  I longed for the anima (as a dark, mystical lover) day and night.  I wrote poems about her.  I projected her onto every suitable woman (or girl, at the time).  I tormented my girlfriend by trying to push her toward some kind of mystical relationship, what I would later understand as the coniunctio.  I wanted a soror mystica.  I wanted to transcend.  I wanted to give everything I had to the mystical union.  I cared about nothing else . . . and systematically ruined my social life by turning inward toward this spiritual phantasm.

The mana-personality almost entirely controlled me.  I though only about spiritual and mystical things, saw the world as entirely spiritualized, imagined life as a spiritual journey and afterlife as a series of hierarchies or planes of attainment.  I felt I knew these things for certain.  I saw the soul everywhere.  I became an animist and a spiritual "warrior" on a quest of spiritual perfection and transcendence.  I felt that I was imbued with mystical, ageless wisdom, an intuitive knowing.  I recognized the world and the ego as "maya", as illusion.  I saw and felt God everywhere.  The numen was everything and everything was the numen.

I mention the above for two main reasons.  First, I feel it is essential to differentiate the anima's mercury injection from a "confrontation with the unconscious" (as the conventional Jungian language might have it).  It was not this at all.  I was well-acquainted with the unconscious by this time and very much submerged in it.  The injection was an initiation into a more directed process.  Specifically (and obviously, due to the mercury), an alchemical process.  It is at this point that one's spiritual and mystical feelings and ideas become focused at a transformative (or transmutative) goal.  At this point I had not just confronted and absorbed (or "assimilated" as Jung said) some of the unconscious, I had made the choice to surrender myself (my soul) to it, to the instinctual process.

I had signed on (still very much unaware of what I was getting into) to do, or undergo, the Work.  Many years later, I realized that it was this act of surrender, this sale of soul to the devil or Shadow-Self, the instinctual Other, that was the key step I took (instinctually and feeling I had no real choice in the matter) that many Jungians never take.  They do not fail to take this step . . . they simply choose not to.  It is a choice to do the Work.  One does not have to.  Those who make this choice are not better in any way than those who don't.  One should not feel compelled or pressured to do the Work by others.  Only the instinctual unconscious has the power and the right to exert such pressure . . . and our dreams will tell us if and when such a step, a surrender, is necessary.

I mention the anecdote of my "spiritual condition" above also because I think it is important (although I suspect few will believe me) to recognize that one can have very elaborate and seemingly "advanced" spiritual ideas or "consciousness" well before and without ever doing the Work.  Such "higher consciousness" is not at all the product of the Work.  It is the prerequisite.  It constitutes the prima materia, the undifferentiated "stuff" on which the Work is performed.  The Work teaches us how to differentiate these ideas and feelings and "spiritual experiences", how to value them as separate from what we want from them, how we want them to serve and fortify our ego-positions.

I am saying that the Work does not bring one to God, to the mystical, to the anima-mundi, the spiritual life, the Tao, whatever you want to call it.  One must have already come to these things, recognized them in some form, before the Work can begin.  The Work is a process of transmuting and making use of these things.  Of adapting them to living in the world.

Although I bring this up, because it does (I must admit) annoy me that many people in the greater Jungian community think the experience of the numen is some "attainment of consciousness" or "mystical achievement" (it is not) that designates one as superior to those of "lesser experience" (this is the inflation fooling us) . . . I mostly want to acknowledge that (despite my apparent cynicism), these visions and perceptions of the numen are absolutely valid.  To some degree, much of the "intuitive wisdom" that seems to accompany these experiences is valid.  The problem is not that it is "irrational" and some kind of "superior" rationalism can debunk it.  It is not a delusion.  What it is is a feeling of the value of the instinctual unconscious, the value of the numen.  The "intuitive wisdom" tells us what it is like, what its manifest potentials may be.

It is no coincidence that the preferred language of all spirituality and mysticism is radically vague.  It is the fact that such numinous experiences are first felt and felt to be valuable that accounts for this vagueness.  These languages are vague, because the prima materia is in a state of chaos, non-order.  We do not know (at this stage of perception and valuation) what the stuff behind the experience is.  We know only how it feels and appears to us, how it influences and affects our egos.  We know it only to the degree that we can see our own sense of self reflected back from its numinous shine.

And what is I feel most important to understand is that this is enough.  This is all we need to know in order to "be human", in order to fulfill our humanness, to be homo religioso.  To be mysteriously compelled by these numinous things is sufficient in order to follow their instinctual urgings.  But I also feel it is important to acknowledge that this is not consciousness.  This is not "gnosis".  More importantly, this Erotic connection to and valuation of the numen is no guarantee that we will be "living to the fullest" in the sense of being extremely adapted and adaptable to our various shifting environments.  If anything, the undifferentiated closeness between the ego and the Self will be more apt to produce delusions and other forms of maladaptivity (where maladaptivity is, no matter how "spiritual", a kind of dysfunctional rigidity).

I suspect this is a much greater problem in modern society than it was in prehistoric, tribal, hunter-gatherer societies where being compelled by the numen unconsciously was perfectly adaptive to most environments.  Tribal culture tends to erect totems and taboos that are meant to reinforce and protect the numen and discourage investigative questions.  But as tribes come into conflict with other tribes, it becomes obvious that each tribe has a different totem, a different tribal god or dogma.  How can there be two opposing truths . . . let alone dozens, hundreds, thousands, etc.?  My guess is that population and diversity increase were detrimental to totemic religion and its unexamined truths.  Perhaps the rise of the priestly class had largely to do with the fact that an "ideological militia" was required to enforce singular totems and taboos, protecting these sacred dogmas from the the inconvenience of growing diversity and otherness in increasingly larger societies.

The modern movements toward neo-tribalism (easily observed in the Jungian community and its various sub-communities, for instance) may be one aspect of a desire to protect or totemize specific dogmas.  Tribal structures or cults (sometimes called "schools" of thought within fields of academia) are social structures that can effectively fortify a totem.  If the group grows larger and more diverse, ideology cannot be totemically controlled (without significant compromises and perhaps "priestly brutality").  But a tribe can keep all of its members in touch with the numen.  In this poise we are able to fulfill our instinctuality as homo religioso and live "instinct-driven lives" in which we can be both unconscious and fully human.  I believe there is a strong gravity in our species to live in this state.  In this state we have access to a kind of natural equilibrium.

But I do not advocate this kind of neo-primitivism, because I see it as radically short-sighted and ultimately unethical.  The inconvenient truth is that we do not live in societies where a Utopian return to primitivism is adaptive.  Wood that floats in water will burn in fire.  We would do well to reacquaint ourselves with the basic principle of evolution that acknowledges the primary role of environment in a species' survival success.  That is, we have evolved in adaptation to our environments.  Yes, one of our great skills is the ability to manipulate our present environments to suits our needs (to adapt the environment to us), but this novel solution isn't absolutely effective, because we cannot control of environments absolutely . . . not without repercussions that we often don't anticipate.

The human mania for controlling and adapting the environment to the species is an ego-mania.  That is, it devalues the natural and the Other in order to serve the short-term desires of ego-comfort.  But we should also consider the likelihood that the evolutionary environment of the ego (human consciousness) is an informational environment of sociality and "collective knowledge".  Such an environment can grow at an enormous rate . . . and we are faced with the task of adapting to it.  Previous attempts (throughout recorded history) to control the informational environment by totemizing ideas and beliefs have never paid off in the long-term (as they create heresies and rebellions).

And this is precisely what I see as problematic in neo-tribalism.  Yes, it "feels" right . . . but it cannot be recreated without massive destruction of otherness and loss of modern freedoms (think fascism).  And even if such a totalitarian system is established, it will probably prove unsustainable.  People don't want to give away all of their individual freedoms and diversities (as Utopianisms tend to require).

Therefore, I believe we would do better to concentrate our efforts on adapting ourselves to the modern world rather than on trying to make the modern world conform to our unconscious gravity toward tribal equilibrium.  Forming subcultures and cults and sects within modern society is equally as ineffective as totalitarian "state-tribalism" (as a "solution"), because this divorces the individual from a more global citizenship, and therefore from any responsibility to Others who fall outside the cult's indoctrination net.  This would insure that those tribes that realize they can seize power because other tribes are either "not looking" or are too insular or weak to resist (not possessing a sufficient strategy for dealing with Others) will be able to do so.  This is in fact precisely what happened when we first moved out of tribalism . . . and is still the state of the world today.

I digress on this issue, not only because it is (I think) highly relevant to Jungian thinking and because we have recently been discussing tribalism, but also because I believe the solution I suggested (but of course did not outline) of adapting our consciousness to modern society rather than our societies to our consciousness is precisely what the Work is oriented to.  To be called to the Work is to be called to make a significant adaptation.  One can no longer adapt to one's environment with one's preexisting ego-strategies, therefore these ego-strategies must me reworked, perhaps even radically . . . in order to become adaptive. 

Here a mediating intelligence is necessary in order to find equilibrium with the environment.  This mediating intelligence is "individuated consciousness", that consciousness which recognizes that the ego-strategies are arbitrary and composed of self-protective affiliations that were unconsciously adopted from social institutions and other totems.  My belief is that this individuated consciousness is every bit as much an instinctual process as that which pulls us toward tribal unconsciousness (participation mystique).  It also is a drive to achieve a state of equilibrium.  But whereas the tribal instinct seems to belong to the evolutionary environment we were in when we existed as hunter-gatherers in prehistoric times, the instinct for individuated consciousness perhaps belongs more to the innovative consciousness (that has been responsible for bringing us into a position of speciesist dominance on this planet).

Human consciousness is "super-adaptive".  It is not imprisoned by the rate of genetic mutation that largely determines the adaptability of other species.  We can use mental paradigms, forethought, reasoning, and abstract knowledge transmission to adapt at a radically accelerated rate to rapid shifts in our environments.  This super-adaptive neocortex (and other "egoic" brain modules in coordination) has such enormous plasticity that it can stretch to adapt the organism to an extremely wide range of environmental conditions.

But its ability to stretch in this sense, its plasticity, is by no means a requirement to stretch unnecessarily.  I believe it is environmentally based . . . or adaptive.  That is, it will adapt to its environment (perhaps by adapting its environment to it) as such adaptation is necessary.  In other words, we humans are different beings in different kinds of environments.  And as our environments are largely the product of our sociality, these environments will be determined by the kinds of social groups we form and exist in.  So we are equally human in small hunter-gatherer tribes, in larger agricultural collectives, or in modern global societies . . . but we are in some sense, different kinds of humans in each environment.

The reason we can manage to achieve this is because we have this super-adaptive consciousness we call the ego.  The ego itself is an evolutionary adaptation.  My theory is that the instinct that drives ego-development is at least in part a super-adaptivity instinct.  What I call the Work is an indenture to this particular instinct, which can be (and is "intended" by evolution to be) used as a mediator between the collective human instincts (Jung's collective unconscious) and our complex, ever-fluctuating informational environment.

Of course the ego is always put in this position as mediator, but it generally "comes of age" in as simplistic a way as possible, adapting first to an informational environment that is the environment of our childhood (parental environment) and adolescence (peer environment).  This intensely peer-oriented environment is much more tribal than larger, more "adult" society with its numerous obligations.  Anyone who can think back to their adolescent school days should be able to instantly recognize the tribal structure with all its totems, taboos, pecking orders, hero-"shamans" (in-crowds, athletes, musicians . . . that might give way in the later adolescence of our college days to thinkers, artists, philosophers, ideologues), and such.  It's a time of heavy, perhaps even imprisoning, social conditioning.  It is the time in which the majority of our knowledge and language skills are developed and most of our core ideas and ego-strategies are formulated.

Perhaps the tension between tribal group formation and modernism is increased because we live in what is effectively an adolescent society in which adolescent tribalism is not (percentage wise or for the "average individual") an extremely effective strategy in the adult society of innumerable, intertwined tribes (or, if you prefer, tribelessness).  What we experience as a "midlife crisis" or an earlier break-down in adaptivity is generally, I think, the feeling that our adolescent strategies have failed us.  [My own were so maladaptive that they failed at the tail end of my adolescence.]

And this is precisely where the Work comes in handy.  It is also the situation in which we see the animi first appear.

The animi instinct is the instinct that moves us out of adolescence and into an adulthood of greater responsibility and more complex sociality.  This is largely achieved by reorienting our approach to the unconscious, our instinctual center.  Whereas in adolescence and childhood, we could maintain an unconscious, unintentioned relationship to our instinctual drives, as our social structure becomes more complex, diverse, and demanding, this pure unconsciousness is no longer adaptive.  We can't merely turn to the unconscious for providence and expect it to always provide.  It does not adapt at the speed of information in adult human society.  That is, it cannot "snap its fingers" and undo an ego-strategy that was maybe 15 years in the making.  The process of revising and reworking our ego-strategies requires conscious attention, a kind of coordination between unconscious instinctuality and conscious super-adaptivity.

The animi are the figures that are empowered by the unconscious to woo the ego away from adolescent ego-strategies and a providential dependence on the unconscious and toward the super-adaptive instinct on which the ego is evolutionarily founded.  This shifting of libido-directedness utilizes what is in effect a "transitional object" or transitional personage, the anima or animus archetype.

What I suspect is happening with this archetype is really quite fascinating and elegant.  In many mammals, a mating instinct kicks in after a particular age and during a particular season . . . and the animals are compelled to mate.  What seems to be happening with the animi is that the human "mating instinct" is not entirely determined by environment, but is being adapted by another instinct (the super-adaptive instinct of consciousness), to stimulate an intensive ego-restrategization for improved adaptation to an adult social environment.

What we see in the animi is the pull of erotic attraction away from the parents and toward the partner.  In this sense, it is like the mating instinct of other animals that signifies (in those species) the movement from adolescence to adulthood.  But there is more going on in our species than merely a libido shift from the parent to the partner.  We know this because the animi (at least later in their development, as I'll cover in a subsequent chapter) pass through an intensely erotic phase and into a phase in which they serve as the envoys of the Self, or that center of instinctuality that is what needs to be adapted to the social environment to achieve equilibrium with that environment.  That is, we know that the animi prove to be ultimately adaptive, or to be representations of the super-adaptive instinct.  The libido-directedness moves from the parental (and the child/dependent's perspective of the providential unconscious) to the erotic, mating-partner (which is projected outward onto other suitable "hosts"), to the Self, which is a new inwardness.  The resultant inwardness of the libido tells us that this is not merely a projective, mating instinct.

Which seems to indicated that there are overlapping instincts at work here.  One is a more or less conventional mating-instinct while the other is a super-adaptive instinct that helps re-orient the ego-strategies to both the Self and the outside environment (eventually).  We perceive (phenomenologically or experientially) that the animi give way to the Self . . . and that the super-adaptive instinct imbues and directs the animi archetype through its transitional phase.  That is, the animi are temporary and transition representations of the Self . . . but the super-adaptive instinct is always there, but only temporarily harnesses the animi for its adaptive purposes.

It is in this sense that we get the conventional Jungian notion that the animi are the gatekeepers of the unconscious.

There are just a few little points I'd like to clarify before concluding this chapter.  First, I don't want there to be any unnecessary confusion with this new term I introduced: the super-adaptive instinct.  In general, I hate to introduce such terms.  They beg abstraction and can all too easily fall into misuse as "power words" or words that are granted a numinous totem.  We see these power words used constantly in philosophy (especially in postmodern and poststructuralist philosophies).  We also see them in religious and occult mysticisms.  These power words are meant to be obfuscating.  they are words that tell us that something is totemized and imbued with numen . . . but they tend to cloud the elemental nature (or lack thereof) of what they are supposed to be designating.  In essence, they are substantively meaningless, but their totemic nature makes them attractive as buzzwords and jargon.

In general, Jung was outstanding for not succumbing to this intellectualist temptation.  His terms are very tangible for the most part.  He always borrowed or adopted good, concrete terms and usually refrained from abstract, unnecessary neologisms.  This is why I am committed to preserving Jung's language as much as possible, even as I feel it necessary to revise some of his ideas or slightly redefine some of his terms.

The most important thing to understand about this term "super-adaptive instinct" is that is equivalent neither to 1) the ego, nor to 2) the Self.  As far as I know, there is not Jungian term to represent what I mean here.  Not even Edinger's "ego-Self axis" is precise or biological enough for what I mean to represent.  The super-adaptive instinct is the specific evolutionary adaptation (or set of adaptations) that allowed our species to develop "ego-consciousness" as a tool to make fast adaptations to our complex, overwhelming, information-rich, social environments.  The instinct is a tool that is not used or does not manifest in one absolute way.  It is perhaps "conceptually adaptive".  One of its major components is innovation, the intelligence that allows us to see novel uses for various things.  But it is not entirely equivalent to innovative intelligence, because its "evolutionary purpose" is to adapt the organism to its environment (which doesn't always or constantly require innovation).

By contrast, the ego is an abstract construct of a coherent sense of self that functions primarily in working memory.  It is a product of the super-adaptive instinct . . . but not its absolute representation.  The super-adaptive instinct is a kind of ego-founding process, but it does not determine the make-up of the ego.  The make-up of the ego is determined by unconsciously adopted strategies meant to protect the coherence of the sense of self.  Again, these are usually strategies that are appropriate to working memory limitations . . . and may therefore prove insufficient when long-term strategies are required.

The super-adaptive instinct is the instinct that pushes the ego toward better, more flexible, more adaptive strategies . . . especially when unconscious strategy formation proves inadequate.

In a similar sense, the super-adaptive instinct is not equivalent to the Self, but it must be oriented to the Self.  It is responsible for pushing ego-strategy formation toward an adaptive state, one in which equilibrium with the environment is possible.  That is, the Self seeks to be in equilibrium with the environment and the ego is the strategic mediator that is meant to enable this . . . but the super-adaptive instinct is the process that tries to makes this all work functionally and adaptively.

So, where in the world of phenomena might we see the representation of this mysterious, new-fangled "super-adaptive instinct"?  Well, there is one super-excellent example that comes immediately to mind (and here is the circle completed . . . you thought I forgot what this chapter was about, didn't you?  (-)idea(-)).  The mercury of the philosophers.  Mercurius, the liquid metal that takes on innumerable forms, goes through many transmutations.  The "spirit of the Work".  Mercurius is the constant-ever-changing of the alchemical opus.  It is the lapis and the prima materia.  It is Sol and also Luna.  It is the dissolving bath and also the fire.  It is poison and also the elixir.  It is why every term in alchemy seems to be somehow equivalent to every other term . . . but differentiated by the circumstance in which they are employed.

So what was happening in my inaugural anima dream was a transfusion of the mercurial, super-adaptive instinct that replaced my regular blood with Mercurius.  In other words, the introduction to the Work, which is governed by the super-adaptive Mercurius.  The component of poisoning, stillness, paralysis, death brought on by the transfusion predicted a period of severe introversion of libido and depression (dissolution of the ego).  It is only under this dissolution, this slowing, that one can deconstruct the prevailing ego-strategies (or submit them to dismemberment at the hands of Mercurius).  One can no longer abide merely by working memory and the automated response system of the ego.  That is, the ego doesn't seem to work effectively anymore, no longer seems reliable (and we know, for instance, that depression reduces working memory ability).  It is being unraveled, dismembered, dissolved in the mercurial bath.

During the dissolution process, one is probably bound to being non-adaptive in society.  This was certainly the case with me.  Around the time I had this dream, I completely imploded.  I could do nothing but churn the disintegrated bits of my ego.  I had no energy to "live", not in the world.  But I had an enormous energy for the Work.  I hardly cared about anything else, but I followed my instinctual unconscious and my dreams doggedly.  And this is also the period of my life during which I consumed dozens of Jungian books.  If it was a potential tool for facilitating or understanding the Work, I devoured it.  If it could not aid the Work, I discarded it.  Even within Jung's own literary corpus, I could instantly differentiate what I needed for the Work from what was merely an intellectual curiosity.  It was an intuitive nose for practicality . . . or for what was going to be adaptive.  After all, I had sold myself to Mercurius . . . and the mercurial instinct guided me.

Which is to say that for some time I did not have much consciousness of what I was doing or what was driving me.  But in retrospect I can see that it was always adaptivity that governed my choices and determined my libido for particular ventures.  And it became easier to take on a new ego-strategy and then throw it off for a more adaptive one when I discovered it.  Ego-strategies in general were becoming very fluid, less imprisoning, more plastic . . . more like clothing than "beliefs".

It would be a few years or so before I came to a point at which I was consciously co-directing this process.  But at first, it ran automatically, instinctually.  In fact, the entire bulk of what I consider the animi work will run in this automatic, mysteriously compelled way.  It is only after the coniunctio-death (and depotentiation of the animi) that one is really "in control" of the ego or consciously allied to the super-adaptive instinct.  Until that death and sacrifice, one is the minion of Mercurius.  One does, but does not know why.

As for the "madness" of the anima figure in the dream, such madness must be chanced, if not embraced, when giving oneself over to the Work.  All that suggests the destruction of the ego is "mad" . . . and the state of being during the dissolution feels, and perhaps is, psychotic.  But what appears purely insane at first later shows its method.  This method is instinctual or archetypal, and although the beginning of the dissolution process is radically disorienting and frightening, in the hands of the instincts, the ego is gradually reformed into something functional, and eventually into something adaptive.  But before this time, one is basically psychotic, fractured, split up into ego-fragments that have dissociated strategies.  Ego-coherence is ruptured.  The lucky ones find an ego-strategy that conceals this from the world as much as possible until one can emerge from the cocoon.  But such a strategy is a crap shoot, more fluke than skill.  And if one is "too-good" at such a concealment strategy, one will only delay the process and gradually empower the shadow psychosis the concealment strategy is meant to disguise.

It is a very dangerous state, a state from which many do not manage to return.  One hopes that the super-adaptivity of Mercurius outweighs the poisoning.  But why in some people this is so while in others it isn't, I don't know.  I merely feel fortunate that Mercurius came through for me.  I'm not sure if this had anything to do with my utter commitment to this instinct (a faith that was enormously strong in me), my willingness to "sell my soul".  Certainly this was a factor, and were I not willing to make this sale or embrace this faith, I would have been lost to psychosis, no doubt.  But why was I able to commit to this while many others have failed to do so?  That remains a mystery I may never solve.  I know nothing more than to call my savior "fate" . . . or perhaps genetics.

In the next chapter, I will discuss the Call behind the anima work and the hero/anima syzygy.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 12:18:00 PM by Matt Koeske »
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

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