Author Topic: Wheel of opposites as super-archetype  (Read 4290 times)


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Wheel of opposites as super-archetype
« on: October 26, 2007, 04:35:30 PM »
I have an intuitive image in my brain that I want to get out here.  It might qualify as a kind of super-archetype in that it seems to be an organizing principle for how archetypes (in pairs of polarized opposites) are related to one another.  Having finished writing this I think it is of a bit of a hyper abstract intuition and it may not seem very grounded the more you try to consider it in any practical way so be warned.  Maybe it will develop into something more readily practical.  In any case, right now it seems "significant" to me. 

First consider the color wheel...

You have a radial arrangement of a finite set of colors which represent the whole color spectrum at a given resolution.  In this case, we have a resolution of 12 parts to the whole of the color spectrum.  The colors on opposite sides of the wheel are "complimentary colors" as they, in combination, cancel each other out moving to gray as they are mixed in equal proportions.

Now in looking at certain pairs of opposites--

eros & logos
extroversion & introversion
masculine & feminine
connective & separative
upper & lower
rational & irrational conscious functions
perfection & completion
horizontal & vertical

--I have frequently had the feeling that certain pairs line up as if they overlapped somewhat.  For example, I have used the polarity of masculine-feminine and separative-connective as if they were synonyms for the most part.  I came up with separative-connective in no small measure as a way of trying to distance myself from a potentially sexist approach to qualifying dream characters.  However, in spite of my conscious desire to make this discriminationn, I find the masculine-feminine polarity lining up in near parallel with separative-connective and with other polarities as well which tend to perpetuate the stereotypes. 

Other examples of pairs of polarities "lining up":

logos-thinking & eros-feeling

extroverted-sensation & introverted-intuition (at least I can recognize the distinction but I find the overlap fairly strong here)

rational-upper & irrational-lower

masculine-upper & feminine-lower (as in Father in Heaven & Mother Earth)

The most famous case of overlap probably comes from the "Yin-Yang" symbol:

Where yin = black = passive = feminine, etc and yang = white = active = masculine, etc. 

I would say that the yin-yang symbol and its typical associations are obviously controversial, but the associations linked with that symbol are sometimes supported by experience in examining dreams and myths.

What about this one?

ego-white & shadow-black

I have seen, in the dream of a person of African-American descent, this alignment reversed...

ego-black & shadow-white

So I know that the alignment is also subjective. 

My idea to put context to all of this is an image of a wheel of opposites like the color wheel.  The complimentary color pairs arranged on opposite sides of the center of the color wheel are analogous to the common polarized opposites encountered in dream interpretations and myths.  The "pie pieces" or "flower petals" representing "colors" or "polarized qualities", in my view, overlap each other to some extent rather than exist in fully discrete sections.  To the extent that they overlap, they are in alignment.  So yin=black and yang=white.  But I also think that each petal only partly overlaps with the other petals.  So it is also true that yin != black and yang != white. 

I suspect that there is a dynamic relationship between the polarized opposites such that there is always some overlap (integration-connection) and some separation (differentiation-separation) between the petals of this "flower of opposites".  This means that our psyches will create images within this greater matrix and there will always be a mixture of these two qualities when these polarized pairs of opposites are being used.  If so, the idea of a perfect flower with fully separated petals is an extreme position as is a flower with fully overlapping petals.  Some of us come from a "everything is interconnected (overlapping)" perspective which tends to devalue the individual perspective, at best weighing it down in "relational considerations".  Others overvalue the individual (separated) perspective leading towards a kind of "survival of the fittest" mentality no matter how incomplete that perspective may be.

Anyway, given that I am a very visual person I hope that I haven't made this image (which seems simple and straightforward in my mind) seem too complex.  It is a very intuition-oriented image.  Perhaps, one way to state the "heart" of the image is to say that petals are always moving and adjusting in degrees of separation.  A concretistic intuition will "cement" pairs of opposites together or force them apart while a more dynamic intuition will allow for relativistic and contextual considerations.

All this is to say that the relationship between pairs of opposites (that is, between ego-shadow AND black-white, not between ego AND shadow) is a dynamic ambiguity of separateness and connectedness where we find that the individual may have a biased stance towards one or the other unconsciously, but, with education, will move to a relativistic stance on how pairs of opposites relate to each other.