Author Topic: The Child Archetype.  (Read 8725 times)

Dragon Child

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The Child Archetype.
« on: August 01, 2007, 06:00:16 PM »
I have long been intrigued by the relation between the anima and the child archetype. I think I have finally solved it, and want to present my solution for scrutiny and inspiration. Let me start with my first proposition (which I call "mine" because I have not found it explicitly in Jung's writings). The child archetype is a symbol of the Self. It is a symbol of wholeness, of the union of opposites.

My second proposition is that Jung defined the anima (at times) as the male human being's personified unconscious, which has a feminine character (cf. Zur Psychologie des Kindarchetypus, "Towards a Psychology of the Child Archetype", section 3C). Likewise, the animus is supposed to be the female human being's personified unconscious, which has a masculine character (I cannot corroborate this, as I am a guy, but an allegory of this might be Pallas Athena's birth from the head of Zeus, even as the ego or conscious self originates in the unconscious).

The child archetype is a symbol of the integrated Self, i.e., of a synthesis of consciousness and the unconscious. It anticipates the synthesis of the Self, which is the goal of the individuation process. It is an image of the result of the union between the masculine and the feminine, namely between consciousness and the unconscious (respectively, in the case of the male). Thus the anima or animus is indeed intimately related to the child archetype. But confusing them is detrimental: for by meditating on the anima or animus, the distinction between that and one's conscious self becomes ever starker, whereas meditation on the child archetype has the effect of a harmonization of the two. The anima should not be the object of contemplation; it should be part of the subject. The task is "the shifting of the personality center from the ego to the Self", as Jung puts it in the concluding section of said essay.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, in the second section, that the male ego has a masculine character and the female a feminine one. This is implied in the third section, though.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2007, 07:15:43 AM by Dragon Child »

Matt Koeske

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Re: The Child Archetype.
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2007, 10:18:18 AM »
Hi Dragon Child,

Welcome to Useless Science!

I haven't read Jung's essay on the child archetype in years,I'm afraid, so I would have to refresh myself on all of the ideas he put forth in it.  But what you wrote sounds consistent to me.  I might quibble on minor semantics.  For instance, can the Self be "integrated" (into the ego or into consciousness)?  I don't think so; but I know what you mean.  In my experience, the deeper the recognition of the Self and the more intimate one's relationship to it, the more Other (i.e., differentiated from the ego) it seems.

I would personally prefer to differentiate between the Self and the child archetype, although they are certainly closely related.  We could say (as you suggest) that the Child is the product of the anima/animus and the ego . . . and the animi are "emissaries" of the Self.  That is, they represent the Self until those qualities of personality they carry that actually belong to the ego (but were forsaken to the shadow) are returned to the ego.  I believe one of these qualities the ego eventually inherits from the animi is the role of mediator between the Self and the world (external environment).  With the inheritance of this role, the ego must also sacrifice its childlike dependency on the Self and its "manna".  The role of the animi is to facilitate the Self's libido, and the end of the animi work sees the ego take up the mantle of facilitator.

The Child is tricky to pin down in my opinion, because we might see it arrive in a variety of stages during the Work . . . anytime something new and "just formed" emerges.  For instance, the Child comes at the birth of the hero (as we can see in many myths and fairytales or in the Christian nativity stories).  Here, the Child would probably represent the "blessed ego", the consciousness that is directed toward the Self.  But at this point, the hero is still not formed, has not been initiated . . . and so has not sacrificed his/her dependency on the Self's providence.  There has been no night-sea journey, no nekyia, no "dark night of the soul", no death and rebirth.  The Child in this instance is only a potential relationship with the Self, an umbilical tether.

At a later stage in the Work, we can see the Child in what the alchemists sometimes called the infans solaris or filius philosophorum.  This Child is a representation of the Philosopher's Stone, the living stone that is not a stone.  I see this Child as a product of the Work equivalent to the Red Tincture of the second opus (as depicted in the Rosarium Philosophorum).  This Golden Child is the "offspring of the coniunctio", but is also something more.  It is a creation in the world (whereas the Lunar Consciousness or White Tincture is more a creation in the soul/psyche).

My feeling is that this Son of the Philosophers is an expression of the obligation of responsibility that the advanced Work creates for the adept/individuant.  The Child in this stage is like a real and living child that must be cherished, protected, nurtured, taken care of.  Here the Child would be the previously established intimacy between the ego and the Self channeled into the act of living (and adaptation).  It is as if, although the ego doesn't need to "parent" the Self or protect it from dangers (as the Self is much "larger" and more substantial/resilient than the ego is), the ego does need to protect and parent its relationship with the Self and its role as active facilitator of the Self. 

This relationship is something like what Edinger called the "ego-Self axis", although Edinger (if I recall correctly . . . and I very well may not), wrote about the ego-Self axis existing even from an early, potential, or "prenatal" stage.  Whereas the Child as filius would represent an already actualized and fairly well understood ego-Self axis.  In other words, we are not directly responsible for the Self, but we are responsible for our relationship to the Self . . . and that relationship is like a precious child.

In the dreams and fantasies of women, I suspect the Child (and the symbol of pregnancy in general) is more likely to represent any new birth or potential.  As the product of a union between the animus and the ego, the Child might represent the new ego or a reconstructed ego that utilizes new strategies that can relate to the Will of the Self.  But this new ego remains unformed/undeveloped (or even dormant) for a long period of time (the so-called putrefactio and ensuing purification before it is actually "born").  This Child, then, "grows up" into an adult ego.

So it is not precisely the same thing as the filius philosophorum, which is a "puer aeternus" (albeit, not with the conventional negative connotations Jungians usually give this figure).  The filius is always a child, the Sun Child . . . because our relationship to it will always be the same.  We must always nurture and provide for it.  It isn't meant to "grow up" . . . which means it is not really a part of the ego at all.  It is a work in the world, that is closely related to, but still Other than the ego.  Perhaps we could say that it is the offspring of the ego and the Self (via the animi) . . . but that it is not truly born (actualized/objectified) until the end of the second opus and the creation of the Red Tincture.

Sorry that my post here is rambling.  I have to go now, but I will think about this more and would like to hear more of your thoughts on the Child.

Yours,
Matt

« Last Edit: August 03, 2007, 10:21:52 AM by Matt Koeske »
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Dragon Child

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Re: The Child Archetype.
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2007, 10:15:13 PM »

Hi Dragon Child,

Welcome to Useless Science!

I haven't read Jung's essay on the child archetype in years,I'm afraid, so I would have to refresh myself on all of the ideas he put forth in it.  But what you wrote sounds consistent to me.  I might quibble on minor semantics.  For instance, can the Self be "integrated" (into the ego or into consciousness)?

Hi Matt,

Thanks for your reply.

I am slightly amused that you mention semantics and then yourself make what to me seems to be a semantical error. You use the word "Self", methinks, to refer to the unconscious; but the Self, in the sense I have used the word here, at least, is not "just" the unconscious: it is the entire personality, which includes the ego (consciousness).

On the other hand, I have reason to believe that Jung derived his concept of the Self from Nietzsche, who does distinguish it from the "I", and identifies it with the body. He does describe it as something of which the ego is usually unaware. But Nietzsche is also par excellence a person who cannot separate the mind from the body. Either the mind is a function of the brain, and the brain a part of the body, or the body, including the brain, exist only in the mind. Though Nietzsche sometimes entertained the latter idea, he usually subscribed to the former.

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I would personally prefer to differentiate between the Self and the child archetype, although they are certainly closely related.

Note that I called the child a symbol of the Self. We may compare the Self and its symbols to God and his incarnations (e.g., Christ) respectively. God is visible in his incarnations, but he is himself invisible. We might say that "he who has seen the child archetype has seen the Self". This does not mean that they are identical.

Quote
We could say (as you suggest) that the Child is the product of the anima/animus and the ego . . . and the animi are "emissaries" of the Self.  That is, they represent the Self until those qualities of personality they carry that actually belong to the ego (but were forsaken to the shadow) are returned to the ego.

Excellent.

Quote
I believe one of these qualities the ego eventually inherits from the animi is the role of mediator between the Self and the world (external environment).  With the inheritance of this role, the ego must also sacrifice its childlike dependency on the Self and its "manna".  The role of the animi is to facilitate the Self's libido, and the end of the animi work sees the ego take up the mantle of facilitator.

The Child is tricky to pin down in my opinion, because we might see it arrive in a variety of stages during the Work . . . anytime something new and "just formed" emerges.  For instance, the Child comes at the birth of the hero (as we can see in many myths and fairytales or in the Christian nativity stories).  Here, the Child would probably represent the "blessed ego", the consciousness that is directed toward the Self.  But at this point, the hero is still not formed, has not been initiated . . . and so has not sacrificed his/her dependency on the Self's providence.  There has been no night-sea journey, no nekyia, no "dark night of the soul", no death and rebirth.  The Child in this instance is only a potential relationship with the Self, an umbilical tether.

At a later stage in the Work, we can see the Child in what the alchemists sometimes called the infans solaris or filius philosophorum.  This Child is a representation of the Philosopher's Stone, the living stone that is not a stone.  I see this Child as a product of the Work equivalent to the Red Tincture of the second opus (as depicted in the Rosarium Philosophorum).  This Golden Child is the "offspring of the coniunctio", but is also something more.  It is a creation in the world (whereas the Lunar Consciousness or White Tincture is more a creation in the soul/psyche).

My feeling is that this Son of the Philosophers is an expression of the obligation of responsibility that the advanced Work creates for the adept/individuant.  The Child in this stage is like a real and living child that must be cherished, protected, nurtured, taken care of.  Here the Child would be the previously established intimacy between the ego and the Self channeled into the act of living (and adaptation).  It is as if, although the ego doesn't need to "parent" the Self or protect it from dangers (as the Self is much "larger" and more substantial/resilient than the ego is), the ego does need to protect and parent its relationship with the Self and its role as active facilitator of the Self.

Very true. 

Quote
This relationship is something like what Edinger called the "ego-Self axis", although Edinger (if I recall correctly . . . and I very well may not), wrote about the ego-Self axis existing even from an early, potential, or "prenatal" stage.  Whereas the Child as filius would represent an already actualized and fairly well understood ego-Self axis.  In other words, we are not directly responsible for the Self, but we are responsible for our relationship to the Self . . . and that relationship is like a precious child.

In the dreams and fantasies of women, I suspect the Child (and the symbol of pregnancy in general) is more likely to represent any new birth or potential.  As the product of a union between the animus and the ego, the Child might represent the new ego or a reconstructed ego that utilizes new strategies that can relate to the Will of the Self.  But this new ego remains unformed/undeveloped (or even dormant) for a long period of time (the so-called putrefactio and ensuing purification before it is actually "born").  This Child, then, "grows up" into an adult ego.

So it is not precisely the same thing as the filius philosophorum, which is a "puer aeternus" (albeit, not with the conventional negative connotations Jungians usually give this figure).  The filius is always a child, the Sun Child . . . because our relationship to it will always be the same.  We must always nurture and provide for it.  It isn't meant to "grow up" . . . which means it is not really a part of the ego at all.  It is a work in to world, that is closely related to, but still Other than the ego.  Perhaps we could say that it is the offspring of the ego and the Self (via the animi) . . . but that it is not truly born (actualized/objectified) until the end of the second opus and the creation of the Red Tincture.

Sorry that my post here is rambling.  I have to go now, but I will think about this more and would like to hear more of your thoughts on the Child.

Yours,
Matt

Thanks a lot for your input. I don't know anything about Tinctures (an alchemical term no doubt), but some of your "rambling" does remind me of Crowley, whose Little Essays toward Truth I deem very highly.

As for my thoughts on the Child: at the moment I would just like to say that, though innocent, the Child need not be innocuous. As an example I will present you with a link to a clip by the metal band Melechesh. They obviously (to me) have an innocent pleasure in being demonic. This should remind us of the fact that the Antichrist is as essential to the Christian symbol of the Self as is Christ - and perhaps even more so.

"The highest state a philosopher can attain: to stand in a Dionysian* relationship to existence - my formula for this is amor fati.
It is part of this state to perceive not merely the necessity of those sides hitherto denied, but their desirability; and not their desirability merely in relation to the sides hitherto affirmed (perhaps as their complement or precondition), but for their own sake, as the more powerful, more fruitful, truer sides of existence, in which its will finds clearer expression."
[Nietzsche, The Will to Power, section 1041.]

(*Dionysus, as opposed to Christ - who is "hopelessly split into two irreconcilable halves" [Jung, Aion] -, is a true symbol of the Self. He is also a child figure.)

Kafiri

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Re: The Child Archetype.
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2007, 10:17:57 AM »
Quote from: Dragon Child

Note that I called the child a symbol of the Self. We may compare the Self and its symbols to God and his incarnations (e.g., Christ) respectively. God is visible in his incarnations, but he is himself invisible. We might say that "he who has seen the child archetype has seen the Self". This does not mean that they are identical.


Quote

...Jung has dealt extensively with the psychology of the child archetype, where he makes clear that the motif of child, when it appears in symbolic material such as our story, means far more that the concrete, literal 'child.'  The child motif, says Jung, is almost always associated with something miraculous or divine-the wonder-child whose origins are extraordinary(virgin birth) and whose deeds are somehow associated with redemption of the darkness and recovery of the light.  As such, says Jung,
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it is a symbol which unites the opposites; a mediator, bringer of healing, that is, one who makes whole....  It represents the strongest, the most ineluctable in every being, namely the urge to realize itself.  It is, as it were, an incarnation of the inability to do otherwise.
                     (Jung, 1949; paras 278, 289; emphasis in original)

So the child then is a boundary concept, stretching between the potential wholeness of the Self and its actualization in the ego's world of reality. It represents the eternal in time.  It links the real and imaginal worlds and the promise that the imperishable numinous world might find life in this world.  It is for this reason that the child is mythology's almost universal answer to the question 'Does God manifest himself in history?'  As Moses, as Christ, as Bhudda, as Krishna, the answer is always the divine child.  In terms of previous discussion, we could say that it represents symbolically the potential for realization of the invioable personal spirit or Self in 'this life,' i.e., in the personal personal history of the individual.

So it is no wonder, then, that so many fairy tales begin with the desire for a child. With the world of reality seperated from the psychoid, magical world in which transpersonal powers reside, there is no spontaneity, no life, and no genuine possibility for personal growth.  Things dry up.  There is no depth, no hope. We have seen that precisely this split between ego and Self is the legacy of early trauma.
     Donald Kalsched, The Inner world of Trauma, Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, p. 203
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
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