Author Topic: The Anima Work, III: Initiation Dream  (Read 3714 times)

Matt Koeske

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The Anima Work, III: Initiation Dream
« on: November 21, 2007, 06:02:40 PM »
Scene One:
I watched an old 1950s film about a kind of futurist dystopianism in a run down theater with a few male friends from high school/college.  My friends had all seen the film before and were big fans of it, but I found it boring and couldn't hear the audio very well.

Scene Two:
I was leaving a catacomb-like gymnasium shower room after showering and feeling that I had just completed some kind of important and difficult task.  I met my parents and younger brother outside who had come to pick me up.  My mother was yelling at me, because she had been trying to make me a gift but hadn't completely finished.  She opened the trunk of the car and pulled out a bouquet of flowers that had a big chunk missing from it.  She gave it to me anyway saying, "Here!  Take it.  I don't want it anymore!"  She said I was ungrateful.  As she yelled at me, I said nothing and stood stoically.  Eventually, I asked her why she was yelling at me like this, as I had done nothing to deserve it.  She grew more distraught and muttered, "I talked with my mother today" [she had a very troubled relationship with her mother and saw her mother as the source of all her pain and damage . . . a complex she passed on to me].  "You can't take it out on me," I said.  And we all got in the car.  I wanted to be kind, but I couldn't help but think that flowers were a strange gift for me.  I tried to tell her I appreciated her gift and that she could have it back if she wanted to finish working on it . . . but my efforts at soothing her had no effect.

We set off with my father driving and went back into the catacomb of shower/locker rooms (that was also like a dark parking garage).  My father got lost and disoriented, acting as if exit was hopeless, but I helped direct him out.

Scene Three:
Now we were walking in a nearby neighborhood (to the one I grew up in).  An ambulance was stopped on the right side of the road with a side door (like in a minivan) swung open.  We peered in and saw an old man on a stretcher.  The paramedics were performing an emergency operation and were in the middle of cutting his pants off to expose wounds beneath.  We assumed he would die soon and walked on.

My father said, "Wasn't that Mr. Inverso?" [this wonderfully symbolic name actually belonged to the father of a kid I played baseball with when I was younger . . . who, significantly, was also named Matt].  After walking about a block, we realized my brother was no longer with us . . . and we went back to find him by the ambulance still (although not looking in).  We collected him and walked by the ambulance again (this time on the other side).  My mother turned to my father and asked, "Do you think we should teach him [my brother] the lesson of the future?"  She made it sound like it would be a painful lesson to learn.  We had decided against it, but my brother than rushed to the ambulance door, pulled it open and stuck in his head right next to the dying man.  My brother exclaimed something out of surprise that may have been a bit vulgar and we felt embarrassed for disturbing the man in his time of death.  I collected my brother and we walked away.

Scene Four:
I now seemed to be by myself and I walked into a park/golf course.  I wanted to play golf but a number of pompous, rich kids were in front of me.  They all had large, fancy sets of clubs, but it seemed I had only one club, my driver.  Then it seemed I had misplaced this driver.  It was supposed to be standing up on a rack along with other people's clubs, but it wasn't there.  I found one just like it but with an old-fashioned wooden handle (and felt a little disappointed). 

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an attractive young woman (about 19-21) with black hair and inquisitive, powerful eyes pick up a small box of three golf balls as if to steal them.  "Uh, uh, uh!" I jokingly scolded.  I told her I wouldn't tell anyone as long as she put them back, and she did.  I asked her (since she seemed to be a thief) if she had also stolen my driver.  She said she hadn't, but I kept asking her about it in a half-joking, flirting sort of way.  I told her I wasn't like those other rich kids, that my driver was the only club I had, and it was old and well used.  She felt a bit bad for me, but assured me she had nothing to do with its disappearance.

I jokingly (perhaps pretending to be a police officer) asked her for her license.  She then looked a bit scared and said, "Oh my God, you're a cop aren't you?!".  I assured her I wasn't.  My parents wandered by at this point.  She showed me her license, it wasn't a driver's license but something else.  She said, "This is the only license I have".  It was a card that indicated she was some kind of a witch that belonged to a coven or clan.  The card described the clan.  I found this revelation enthralling and begged her to tell me all about herself and her clan.

Scene Five:
We walked on talking intimately and really seemed to hit it off.  We approached the house where she lived.  The neighborhood was poor, but her house was a huge Victorian mansion, although rather run down.  As we entered the house, I had become Doogie Howser [teenage doctor and wunderkin from an old TV show] as well as myself.  We went up to her room, which was on the 5th floor.

As we continued to talk I discovered the woman was a gypsy who was very poor and had to become independent from a very early age.  She was a misfit and a wanderer.  I felt a great deal of respect for her and also a powerful attraction.  Her room was very bare, but somehow comfortable or familiar feeling.  We made love and then sat in bed continuing to tell each other the stories of our lives.  At some point I told her that I had always wondered what a woman's orgasm felt like (for the woman) . . . and she said she could show me (due to her magical powers) and did.

Scene Six:
Afterward, we walked down the stairs and went into her kitchen, still talking away with fascination.  I asked her if she had had many older men for lovers.  She told me she had had three: one was a jerk, one didn't work out but she said she might still marry him one day, and I was supposed to be the third (although she and I were really the same age . . . and both older than Doogie Howser).  We were going to go back upstairs to have sex again (as we seemed to have a kind of ravenous sexual hunger for one another), but instead we went through a large door that she said she had to enter.

In this other bedroom there was an Asian woman about 25 years old who looked haggard and ill.  She sat in her bed watching a documentary on TV, and we sat down on the bed to join her.  I was introduced to, but barely acknowledged by, the Asian woman.  The black haired gypsy woman talked to the other woman about her illness and asked her if she had taken her medicine.  The Asian woman said she had, but she had taken it later than she should have, which was why she looked so ill.

I saw a hand mirror on the bed and picked it up.  It had been smeared with something and I tried to erase/clean it with a pencil eraser.  The TV documentary was talking about misfit children in our society that were poor, lived with drugs, alcohol, disease, crime, mafia-controlled neighborhoods, and all kinds of everyday corruptions.  I though it seemed to describe the gypsy woman perfectly.  Although I had managed to erase the original stain on the mirror, the mirror was now covered with eraser smudges.  I felt bad about this and said I would take it into the bathroom to wash off.  These smudges had something to do with the illness of the Asian woman.

The bathroom was square and looked more like a kitchen.  As I was washing the mirror, the gypsy woman walked in to help me.

Scene Seven:
Then we were back in her bedroom, and I was no longer Doogie Howser, but I was talking with her about him.  She said that he tends to get caught up in his own life of being a doctor and doesn't give enough time for other things.  I agreed, but told her that he couldn't help it right now, because he had been a doctor since he was nine and knew nothing else.  I said that he just needed help to figure this out and that she should hang in there with him and not get too upset because he really needed a friend. 

She seemed to quietly agree, but as I looked deeply into her eyes I saw sadness, pain, many years of hardship.  It suddenly became clear to me that she had suffered at least as much as him and that she was the one who really needed a friend.  I felt a bit guilty as this realization dawned on me and was about to speak to correct my earlier statement and apologize when I awoke.

This is a very long and complex dream, and it is not my intention here to make a full analysis of it.  Rather, I wish to merely draw from it to help construct and explain what is the quintessential stage of the anima work: the initiation of the ego by the anima or into the anima work.  This dream is, despite its complications, the most comprehensive and clearly stated anima initiation dream I have yet come across . . . and I think it will serve as a rich source for an investigation of this aspect of the anima work.

The first few scenes of the dream (before the anima figure of the young gypsy woman showed up) are filled with personal complex material (as the presence of immediate family and childhood neighborhoods often indicates).  Still, there are some important, archetypal precursors to the anima initiation touched upon in these scenes. 

The run down theater showing an old 1950s dystopian film could be seen as a representation of an old perspective (way of seeing/viewing) that no longer suits the ego awakening to individuation.  The theater was crowded (suggesting conventional "mass" attitudes) and my high school friends represented male attitudes that are not conducive to the new orientation required by the anima work.  The 1950s would be a symbol of an era in which popular notions of gender were very "archaic", pre-feminist, and rigid.  The dystopian, apocalyptic story the film was telling suggests an ego-attitude in decay.  The impending destruction or dissolution of the old ego.

But I was having a hard time getting interested in this film or even hearing it properly.  It held no attraction for me.  So here I am differentiating myself from the tribal, adolescent construct of the male ego and specifically from its attitude toward gender and the Feminine.

This differentiation leads to a transformation and "cleansing" of the old attitudes in the shower room.  But such a purification ritual leads one to a more precise confrontation with the original source of the Feminine, the mother.  My mother's gift to me is complex.  On one hand, it is very kind and thoughtful.  On the other hand, it (flowers) is more conventionally a gift one would give to a woman than to a man . . . perhaps even with romantic connotations.  Additionally, the gift is imperfect, incomplete . . . and the giving of the gift is done with anger and resentment.

This behavior (archetypally speaking) makes sense when we consider the bouquet of flowers to be a kind of prefiguration of the anima.  After all, we know that 1.) the anima develops out of the unconscious Feminine, which was founded on the mother/Mother, yet 2.) the expression of the Feminine represented by the anima is in conflict with the Mother-as-Feminine; the anima woos the male ego away from the Mother and from blind, childlike dependency on the instinctual unconscious and toward a more Erotic partnership between the ego and the unconscious/Self.  3.) The anima, born from the Mother archetype in the way it is, is not complete at first, but rather arrives as a sort of prima materia . . . perhaps even as a kind of inanimate object (e.g., a statue or "trapped/enchanted maiden" or mermaid) or piece of vegetation (trees are common . . . or things/people that come out of trees).

The development of the anima into the "mystical twin" or soror mystica figure common to many anima dreams and tales is dependent upon the "worthiness" of the male ego, his ability to engage with her, to love her and long for her.  This longing (which is a projection, essentially, a transference) is what fleshes out the anima figure.  The male ego projects his hidden, and in some ways "better", self onto her, and the form of the anima is derived from this projection or mirroring.  As this process unfolds, the male ego, enamored with what is essentially the projection of his unrealized traits is drawn toward the anima figure.  Gradually and if the work progresses and doesn't stall in a "drowning fascination", the man will incorporate more and more of theses projected anima traits into his own conscious personality.  The incorporation of these traits into consciousness and the accompanying paring away of the anima figure to its archetypal/instinctual core are what the anima work is all about.  In this process, not only is there incorporation (of shadow and Otherness that belong to the conscious personality), but also differentiation.

The anima work sees the beginning of the differentiation between the ego and the Self.  The ego takes what belongs to it into consciousness and simultaneously recognizes the realness and value of the Self-as-Other.  As this process is on going and especially as it is just beginning, there is an inevitability of inflation or egoic identification with the Self.  This inflation is a staple of the animi work simply because of the combination of ego and archetype that marks the early stages of the process.  When we peel away a little strip of projected ego-material from the anima and see something "divine" underneath, we tend to prematurely conclude that we will continue to peel away more strips of divinity and reattach them to our ego-identity.  As mad as the inflation is (and often feels), this conclusion is really quite logical.  It just happens to also be entirely incorrect.

But believing in such "logic" is enormously tempting, because the feeling that we are divine or powerful or wise or whole or magically/spiritually endowed is extremely comforting to the weakened ego drowning and dissolving in the dissolution stage (the stage where the anima work is most pronounced and almost entirely contained).  But eventually, as we reclaim more and more ego material from our animi, we will run into an impasse where it becomes clear that this reclamation is not really going to deify us.  One climbs up over the hill and realizes that the rest of the journey is downward.  The ascension is over (it was only ever an illusion).  Most people, when they intuit this disappointment, turn around and go back the way they came.  In this way, they can continue to pretend (and convince themselves) that they are more divine and powerful than they really are.  Many men who pursue New Age spiritual interests heartily (like Jungians, for instance) fail at precisely this stage and for precisely this reason.  But from what I have seen, an even larger number of men (Jungians included) fail in the anima work even earlier on, simply by refusing to reclaim any ego material projected onto her at all.  These men are transfixed by the thrill of the mysterious anima on her pedestal or beneath her glass coffin.  Perhaps such men sense that there is a devouring maternal factor lurking behind that beautiful visage . . . or perhaps that the imprisonment of this beauty is their (the men's) own doing.  Best not to awaken those you have wronged and who might seek revenge.

If we cannot bring ourselves to "lose" or surrender or accept defeat (and transformation) then we cannot pursue the anima work.  Such surrender requires tremendous courage.

A man has to brave the rage of the mother in order to embark on the anima work . . . as is demonstrated in this dream.  This is one of the first acts of egoic heroism and the beginning of the ego's identification with the hero.  The hero is capable of withstanding the devouring rage of the mother and also of loving and pursuing (redeeming) the Erotic anima.  Many of the projections reclaimed from the anima figure will be heroic.  After all, one cannot be truly brave when one is hiding under the skirts of the Mother.  Other reclamations are more conventionally shadowy: weakness, "femininity", penetrability, emotionality.  But to claim one's own weakness, it should be noted, requires an act of strength and bravery.  To bring shadow into consciousness is to depotentiate the control it had over the ego.

To return to the dream, we might say that my father getting lost in the locker room catacombs is another aspect of the maternal devouring that must be navigated through before approaching the anima.  The dream ego's ability to stay calm and find the right path when the father was not is a small redemption of the Old Masculine that was dependent on the protection and providence of the Mother.  It is not surprising then that the father would play this role symbolically, as, of course, he is the one "mated to" the Mother.

The following scene in the dream of the ambulance and dying old man is very alchemical.  This Mr. Inverso is like the alchemical Old King.  He is dying (and having his clothes cut away) in order to be mixed into the prima materia (the alchemical solutio) from which the New King (the heroic ego aligned with the filius philosophorum) will be born.  He is the "inverse" of the New King . . . and perhaps we could also say that he is "turned inward" as the ego must be before the individuation process can begin.

My younger brother's morbid fascination with this man's death could refer to the personal shadow's desire or obsession with remaining with the Old King, the maladaptive ways of the ego.  But the "lesson of the future" is that all things die and transform from one state to another.  The shadow may indeed stand in some kind of danger from the anima work, as the increasingly heroic orientation of the ego engaged in the anima work would seem to threaten to depose the shadow (although, I have personally found this not to be the case, not at least in the sense that the heroic ego "conquers" the shadow; eventually, the ego that is heroic enough will even sacrifice himself to save or empathize with the shadow).  I can't help but see a little "alchemical humor" in the exclamation my brother makes when he pokes his head into the ambulance.  It was something like "Oh shit!" . . . and of course, the Stone is "found in filth" or in a dung heap (or, in other words, the prima materia formed from the coniunctio putrefies and blackens before it is purified and transformed into the White Stone . . . and eventually into the Red Stone).

In the following scene of the dream by the golf course, a contrast is made between rich and poor . . . which we could pretty accurately associate with valued and unvalued aspects of the psyche.  As a "one club golfer", I am now identified with the fledgling heroic ego.  The clubs could be seen as phallic symbols . . . but (at least in the rich kids) they might also be a pun on belong to clubs or having tribal affiliations.  The heroic ego of the individuant has only one club of affiliation: the Self.  But here, even this affiliation seems to have vanished.  The missing driver is like a depressed drive to live (in the material world).  That is, of course, one of the key aspects of the inwardness the anima work requires.

But the symbol is more complex still.  The phallic driver (the "power club" in golf) could be said to represent the heroic ego in "conquering" mode.  He has great power, but lacks wisdom . . . and so doesn't deserve this "weapon" yet.  The hero is only a hero when his weapon is an extension of who he is.  To have a powerful weapon that enables or tempts (like the Ring in Tolkien or handguns in street gangs) is not honorable, not heroic.  "It is great to have a giant's strength, but terrible to use it like one."

One of the primary lessons of the anima work is that true strength and heroism flow from right action, not from some kind of artificial endowment.  A big driver or sword or gun is really only another Mother figure to be dependent on.  The lesson of heroism is that adulthood (or honor or heroism) is the sacrifice of dependency . . . or that we can connect with others without possessing or becoming dependent on them (for our sense of self).

This is why the anima does not bring the hero his sword but rather takes it away.  Of course, in the dream she claims innocence of this act . . . and in truth, the anima is not responsible for taking the "drive" away from the ego.  The male ego may feel weak or castrated in the very beginning of the anima work.  The man is probably suffering some kind of depression or loss.  Many men will never embark on the anima work because they can't face their own pain or weakness or impotence.

But the anima is not really the thief of this drive and old sense of masculinity.  She is its replacement.  She is the "upgrade".  In the dream, the gypsy woman replaces the driver . . . with herself.  And this swap reorients the entire dream.  The heroic action is no longer a competition (perhaps against the "rich kids" with all their clubs), no longer a warrior self-assertion against the Old (Mother-bound) Masculine.  Heroism becomes the intimate attraction to the anima and the willingness to sacrifice outer pretenses in order to move toward union with her.

Seen in the emblems of the Rosarium Philosophorum, this shift from golf/competition/lost club to romance with the "found anima woman" is reflected by the movement between these two stages:


Although this movement is common in Jungian men, my personal feeling is that this is where the opus, anima work, and individuation process stop for almost all Jungians.  The next stage is the descent into and dissolution in the mercurial bath:

In this mercurial bath (which I will discuss in more detail in the next installment, using the next dream in this sequence), the ego has already opted to give everything to the anima, to make the ultimate sacrifice.  This would typically mean a radical upheaval in one's life and a transformation of personality that is marked by the death of the old ego and its dependence on the provident, maternal unconscious.  Jungian individuation, in its conventional formulation, simply doesn't go that far (it did, I believe for Jung, but doesn't for his followers, because he did not adequately explain what was needed to make this sacrifice . . . even as he intuitively embraced it in his own life and Work). 

Regrettably, this stage has become tabooed in the Jungian mentality . . . largely (I suspect) because it is that peak of the hill I mentioned earlier, the tipping point, the point of no return.  To go beyond this point is to damn oneself to a non-provident existence and give up one's spiritual and psychological childhood forever.  This point is also the turning point for the resolution of the inflation.  So to get stuck at this point is to become mired in the inflation.  This is the most deluding and dangerous stage of the Work.  What I see in so much conventional Jungianism are individuals trapped in this stage who believe they have passed through and "individuated", finding their god and purpose, becoming wise and spiritual.  This attitude can often be recognized by its aggrandizement of the unconscious (a making of the unconscious into a religion instead of seeing it as a natural, transformative urge that is only as useful as it is actualized) and tendency toward tribalism (Us vs. Them thinking and the emphasis placed on mental health through "true tribe-seeking"). 

We could summarize the characteristic of this attitude pretty satisfactorily as "un-initiated".  In other words, the individual has not made the essential realization and commitment to the animi work that is evidenced in the last scene of this dream.  We see a lot of this in the New Age and online communities.  In this mentality, there is a conflation between the anima as "Goddess" (e.g., as Sophia) and the anima as Mother.  What results is a regression to a more primitive state of consciousness that actually rejects the anima in favor of the Mother.  This embrace of the Mother (and continued dependence on and usurpation of the unconscious) enables the puer psychology to prevail in the personality.  The puer can fly hard and fast, but his "flight plan" is always anchored to the Mother, enabled by the Mother.  These puer flights typically manifest in the many transcendent New Age spiritual interests.  They are "mind-expanding" and self-involved . . . and generally not ethical in any practical way (although they often have grandiosely ethical-sounding philosophies that are simply never put into practice . . . and never could be).  More importantly, these New Age spiritualisms become affiliation markers . . . and are actually in this sense quite effective at generating some kind of satisfaction.  In other words, they help label individuals in such a way that they can find other similar individuals and feel a kind of tribal Eros or participation mystique, basking in the realms of mysticism, transcendence, and the occult.  Of course, none of this has anything to do with individuation or the anima work . . . and seeing as this is the topic I wish to address currently, I will return now to it.

The transition from concentration on what has been lost to what has been found is initiated in the dream with my noticing that the gypsy woman is stealing a box of three golf balls.  We could no doubt analyze this symbol in great depth, but I'm not sure how much it would end up saying about the topic at hand.  Suffice it to say that the threeness of the balls could be seen (for instance) alchemically as the three initial, differentiated elements of the prima materia that are, through the opus) transformed into the one thing, which is the union of conscious and unconscious in the task of living adaptively.  Called the lapis philosophorum or the quinta essentia, among many other things.  The three alchemical substances are Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt or spirit, soul, and body or animal, vegetable, and mineral.

In the Rosarium emblem of the hermaphrodite, we see the alchemical 3-and-1 transmutation (of base metals into silver) represented by the three serpents in one hand and the one in the other (the one serpent is usually portrayed as coiled or sometimes as the Uroboros).  This is a representation of form from formlessness or order made out of chaos through the Work (the Art).  Instinctual nature organized through consciousness.

Trinitarian symbols are also often associated with concentrated energy or an active principle.  What might it mean that the anima woman in the dream is trying to steal these three balls?  The feeling I had as the dreamer was that she needed them somehow and was stealing like a poor and starving person might steal food in order to survive.  The balls then could also take on the connotation of the Masculine fertilizing/nourishing element.  The anima needs this "insemination" from the heroic ego in order for the coniunctio to take place and produce the lapis or filius, the healthy relationship between the ego and the Self, the unified purpose.

But the theft seems to activate the ego's "police officer" mode.  He resorts immediately to his power and authority (as king of consciousness).  He scolds her but doesn't punish her.  At first, the ego feels the desires or hungers of the anima throw the world of the psyche out of order.  But as he commits to his attraction to the anima, he is essentially substituting himself for the trinitarian ball symbol (just as in the Rosarium, the three substances transform into Sol and Luna, the Opposites).  Instead of taking the box of balls home, the anima will take home the heroic ego partner.  No doubt many men in this psychic situation would fear that the anima's desire to "steal their balls" is a threat to their manhood, a threat of castration even . . . and so they will defend themselves against this anima threat in any way they can.  But the heroic ego is like a heroic Fool from a fairytale.  He says, "Why take only the balls when you can have the whole package".  To "have someone by the balls" is to have them unconsciously by their weakest or most vulnerable part or by their complex.  To negotiate with the anima by saying, "You put back those balls and I'll come willingly" is the beginning of heroic consciousness.

The showing of the license that follows is also reflected in the Rosarium emblems above as an increase in intimacy (a shedding of clothing).  The more I know about the anima woman in the dream, the more I am intrigued with and even in love with her.  The following scenes and sexual encounters portray a deepening of the intimate connection and "twinness" between the heroic ego and the anima, which culminates in the anima's magic ability to produce a "female orgasm" in me.  Much of the initial anima work can be felt as a "feminization" and increasing identification with the newly awakened "feminine" aspects of the psyche that are incorporated into the ego. 

Jung seemed to have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of the anima work (mostly hate) that may have led to him inserting a kind of "pre-modern" or at least "pre-feminist" sexism into his anima and animus theories.  Jung's preferred attitude was to resist feminization during the anima work.  He talks about this in Memories, Dream, Reflections especially in his resistance to what he saw as a temptation from his anima for him to look at himself as an artist (instead of, one supposes, a scientist . . . or at least a physician).  Essentially, Jung is trying to have the best of both worlds.  On one hand, he encourages valuation of the anima (and the Other or shadow aspects of personality), but on the other hand he still wants to assert that "men should be men and women women" . . . i.e., the socially constructed, egoic sense of gender should be obeyed.

My personal feeling is that such resistance to enantiodromias is not necessary . . . and really should even be discouraged.  I even suspect that what Jung, the "great man", prescribed is not really the same thing as what Jung, the individuant and alchemist, really did.   We are, after all, talking about a man who kept an extensive journal in which he "allowed his anima to use his own voice" to express her thoughts.  He then even rewrote this journal in a more "fancified", romantic language.  This is not the behavior of someone living the dictate "men should be men and women women" . . . regardless of any desire he might have had to wear a campaign button declaring as much on his lapel.

Why Jung was two-faced about this embrace of the anima can only be guessed at (at least in the absence of various materials guarded by the coiled dragon of the Jung heirs).  It stands as a flaw or wound in his theory, a discrepancy between the personal philosophy the man lived by and his professed "medical theories".  My guess is that Jung was ashamed of his intimacy with the anima . . . which I suspect is due to the incredible inflation that he felt in her "embrace".  That is, he was ashamed of himself, of his own inflation . . . which he saw as brought on by the temptations of the anima.  Some indication of this can perhaps be glimpsed in his statements about his Salome vision, where he saw himself being worshiped by the anima as Christ and then experienced a deification as the lion-headed Aion.  This was the part of the vision expurgated from the published Memories, Dream, Reflections.

That a sane and ethical man would experience some shame regarding this vision is entirely understandable.  Regrettably, it seems this shame was not dealt with in full consciousness.  As a result, we have inherited a Jungian theory of individuation and the anima work that inevitably falls apart under the weight of inflation and cannot assist its individuants through the entire body of the anima work.  Ultimately, though, I am less interested in Jung's personal foibles and failings than I am in the revision, correction, and completion of the anima theory.  Which is specifically why I decided to write this journal on the anima work a number of years after being embroiled in and enthralled by that work.  I can only hope that someone (Jungian perhaps) will be able to get something out of this writing.  Whether or not my attempts to explain this will prove meaningful or useful for others remains to be seen . . . but I feel quite certain that no one following the conventional path of the anima work as it is understood in the Jungian community stands any chance whatsoever of completing it.  The theory is, quite simply, broken.

The issue of feminization during the anima work is, despite my disagreements with conventional Jungian thinking, a very important one.  But the next dream in this series deals very specifically with this issue.  We could say that the present dream depicts a willingness to sacrifice one's old sense of masculinity in order to join with the anima, whereas the next dream will portray the Self's resolution to the problem of "sacrificing too much".  We would do well to continuously remind ourselves as we investigate such things that individuation (to which the anima work belongs), although not without its dangers, is not a self-destructive process or even a perilous battle with a demon hellbent on the ego's destruction.  It is a natural, adaptive process.  Yes, we experience it "religiously".  It is numinous.  It is the archetype of spiritual discipline, even.  But it is not morally "both black and white".  To follow the process of individuation with devotion is a healing and growing experience that increasingly benefits the health of the ego.  The "blackness" of the process, the danger, is in diving in but then chickening out.  Resistance to the process after it has begun can be dangerous.  But this "danger" doesn't come from the instinctual unconscious.  It comes from the ego and its rigid, prevailing belief systems.

Another way of saying this is that dangers to the ego perceived by the ego are not necessarily dangers to the Self.  We never have to "steel ourselves" against the forces of the unconscious as Jung prescribed.  Danger only lies in the selfishness and cowardice of the ego.  If the instincts are allowed to express themselves, we will adapt healthily.  That is what instincts do.  They are not our enemies.  They are not the Freudian id.

The next phase of the anima work that the current dream depicts is the introduction to the anima-as-Wound.  Initially, the anima is a shiny new toy to the lusting ego.  She is the perfect compliment, the perfect lover.  We want her because we want her to fulfill us, to make us feel "whole" or alive or larger than we felt originally.  This colors the anima experience and clouds our eyes.  But the anima herself has other plans.  She is probably open to a really good lay just as much as the ego is, but that "perfect lay" will not fulfill her (nor will it ultimately fulfill the male ego . . . since the animi/ego fulfillment is the unified purpose of ego/Self relationship).

After the "tease", the anima work transitions from a focus on the excitement of new romantic and mystical satisfactions for the male ego to the needs of the anima (as representative of the Self) herself.  This dream portrays the transition by making the anima two-fold.  She has a sister who is ill and confined to her house.  The real love of the anima is not specifically for the heroic ego (as he would like to think), but for the undervalued Self.  Here, the Self is the Asian sister with the mysterious disease that keeps her bedridden.  The gypsy woman is dedicated to the health and healing of the sick sister above all else.

We might even say that the "chance happening" of the encounter by the golf course was really an elaborate seduction.  She needed me to help heal her sister.  I am, after all, a medical prodigy (as Doogie Howser), a highly gifted physician and healer.  I don't mean to suggest (as we might if this was the waking world and not the dream world), that the gypsy woman prostituted herself to me in order to "buy" my medical expertise for her sister.  In the dream world, the attraction between ego and anima is entirely genuine (one partner's desire and love is a mirror image of the other's).  But this attraction is also a segue to the next stage . . . which is the valuation of the imprisoned anima (the alchemists or Gnostics might have referred to her as "imprisoned in Matter" as Sophia was).

It's one thing to desire someone, but something else entirely to "lift them up" or help them.  This stage of the anima work is essentially a redemption of the Fallen Feminine by the conscious, heroic male ego.  He moves from asking what the anima can do for him to asking what he can do for her.  In the symbol of the smudged mirror I am trying to erase and then clean we can see the "disease" of the Self very nicely "explained".  This disease is an inability of the Self to see its own reflection (i.e., in the ego).  The ego itself is the disease and the smudge on the mirror that prevents reflection.  The Self, in order to drive a healthy organism, needs to be reflected in or facilitated by the ego.  So the ego must learn to "wash the mirror", to get its own selfish interests out of the way of the instinctual Self that is attempting to live adaptively.

As I set out trying at first to erase the smudge (ultimately ineffective even if well-intentioned because erasers leave debris and do not remove stains well), I notice that the anima woman is like the depressed and undervalued children on the TV documentary.  Therefore, the attempt to "erase" the disease of egoic selfishness from the ego/Self relationship allows me to realize that the anima is a "suffering soul".  I also learn that my attempts to erase the mirror smudge are not adequate and I must become more proactive.

The properly cleansed mirror could be seen as facilitating the interaction and realization in the next scene.  Instead of focusing on the ego's needs (a kind of alienation resulting from "gifted child syndrome"), I awaken to the realization that the needs and wounds of the anima outweigh the pain of the ego.  Not only that, but I realize that, as a doctor, Doogie-me is in a prime position to be able to help heal the gypsy woman and her ailing sister (who are essentially one and the same). 

Technically speaking, the alienation wounds of the ego are very much the same thing as the illness of the older sister/Self . . . but the alienation is the way the ego selfishly perceives the Wound (of the Self) while the Self is more seriously threatened by it.  To the ego, the Wound is felt as a threat to livelihood and self-image, but to the Self, the Wound is a true, psychical injury or illness.  The ego is radically plastic.  It can change and transform and adjust.  The Self is much more material and fixed.  It has determined needs.  All real pain comes from the unfulfilled needs of the Self or from any damage that has penetrated to the "material" level of the psyche.  The ego can "heal" by merely changing its attitude.  The ego is arbitrary, a fiction.  But the Self can only heal by being effectively connected to the world, by exercising functional libido.

When the individuant comes to understand this and realizes that the anima work is not about satisfying or improving or exalting the ego, but about learning how to redeem the anima-as-Self and help it drive adaptive living, then . . . and only then, is the individuant initiated into the anima work.  That isn't to say that many important things don't happen (and these things must happen) before the initiation.  But only with this initiative leap will the anima work move toward becoming what I call "the Work", the devoted process of ego transformation and adaptation as it is adopted as a conscious, spiritual discipline.

To be initiated by the anima in this way is to turn the corner and start the sacrifice of the dependency on a maternal unconscious.  It is, to put it more religiously, God (or the Goddess) who must be redeemed by the pursuit of spirituality, not the ego.  The initial hunger for transcendence is now (with the anima initiation) starting to be disassembled.  It won't be sacrificed until the climax of the coniunctio stage and the onset of the Nigredo.  But the anima initiation is the seed of this eventual sacrifice.  It reverses the flow of spiritual intentionality from Self-to-ego to ego-to-Self.

We should also note that this initiation is far more than a mere recognition of a non-ego in the psyche.  It is the recognition of the specific needs of this non-ego and understanding that these needs must become the ego's raison d'etre.  After the anima initiation, it will soon become evident that it is impossible to hold this attitude while also holding the conventional religious attitude prescribed by many institutional, tribalistic religions.  That is, one cannot be both a spiritual child/dependent and also a "redeemer of God".  One cannot ask for mana and salvation while also realizing that any chance for salvation (of the Self) comes from the ego's Work.  I don't mean to suggest that one necessarily comes into conflict with the mythos of a religion like Christianity.  Luckily for us who are Christianized, the mythos of Christianity is (when stripped down and redefined a bit) entirely conducive to individuation.

But being initiated into the anima work would mean that one can no longer be a sheep of the Church following the rules and dogmas blindly and waiting for salvation.  Instead, the individual identifies with the Christ figure . . . not in an inflated way which focuses on the mythical power of the Christ, but in the sense that the Christ becomes a model of behavior and attitude to aspire to.  Probably long before we are initiated by the anima, we will have had to deal with inflated identification with a Christ-like figure.  Inflation always uses intuition to "peek ahead" at later stages in the Work in order to "dress in the same fashion" as we imagine a "better version of ourselves" might dress.

But the anima initiation actually begins the resolution of the inflation (although absolute resolution of inflation takes much longer and is perhaps never entirely possible . . . the temptation of inflated attitudes being only depotentiated so they can no longer possess the ego; but they still exist in the psyche).  This is due to the shift of spiritual emphasis from the ego to the Self.

The Catholic self-deification taboo has attempted to imprison the archetype of the ideal individuant in the totemic Son of God (the crucifix) and dissuade individuals from monkeying around with it.  But Gnosticism and the pagan Mystery tradition (from which the Christian mythos was adopted) do not totemize and exalt/imprison the godman in what we now see as the common fashion.  Gnosticism specifically, saw the introduction to Christ (on the so-called "pneumatic" level) as an initiation . . . and the baptism initiation ritual adopted by Catholicism seems to have derived from proto-Gnostic practices (which adopted it from Mystery practices).  In my psychologized language about the anima initiation, I am essentially saying the same thing.  The Christ (fully realized heroic ego) is awakened by the anima initiation.  To do the anima work after this is to walk in the footsteps of the Christ . . . the initiated, heroic ego.

In practice, this could be tremendously hard to determine, because the fascination with the Christ archetype will well-predate anima initiation.  But until the initiation, the Christ fascination or identification is really only a pipe dream, an inflation.  To actually walk in the footsteps of the heroic ego is not to be transcendent and spiritually empowered.  Not at all.  It is to surrender.  To be "last" as the Gospels say.  To associate with tax-collectors and whores and other undesirables, to give up all one's possessions and take to the Road in pursuit of God, the Self.  To walk in the footsteps of the heroic ego is not only to be humbled . . . it is to know and accept that one is walking to one's death.

Of course, the Christ myth does a wonderful job of explaining all this . . . but we have been conditioned to not understand how this relates to individuants, to us.  But the Gnostics and the alchemists understood this very well (in their own language).  Regrettably, despite the fascination with both Gnosticism and alchemy, Jungian psychology fails to effectively differentiate the pre-initiation inflation from the post-initiation sense of heroic self-sacrifice.  This leaves us Jungians with quite a mess to either wallow in or try to clean up.

Whether we are trapped in an inflation or actually being initiated by the anima can be very difficult to determine.  One must subject the circumstance to an analysis on a case by case basis.  And to be fair and honest, I feel I can say with absolute certainty that as we approach and pass through the anima initiation, we will be an undifferentiated "spiritual body" of inflation and genuine heroism.  This takes years of "alchemical" work to differentiate.  But the surest sign that one is not yet initiated into the anima work and one's spiritual imagination is more inflated than genuine, is the determined belief that one has "conquered one's demons" and inflations and now stands purified.

Anyone who has actually gone through this will admit that the differentiation is never so pretty or clean . . . and will also probably be able to tell us that any successful differentiation always came with a learned empathy for the shadow and the inflation rather than a vanquishing or purging of it.  Inflation cannot be excised, only depotentiated.  That is a painstaking process to say the least.

But after the anima initiation is accepted, the work with the anima is "Logos work".  The sexual, erotic element of the relationship is depotentiated and the learning or spiritual discipline begins.  What is essentially happening at this point is that the anima is teaching the ego how to speak the language of the Self.  The bulk of the anima work involves the acquisition of such a language (actually, it is more of a creation than an acquisition).  When the fundamentals of this Logos (way of communicating between the ego and the Self or an effective egoic language in which the Self can be understood . . .  such as the one I'm writing in now) have been established, the anima will have given to the ego everything that belongs to the ego, returned all the ego's projections of Otherness.  At that point, the ego is faced with the great sacrifice of its relationship to the anima.  Part of this sacrifice is the final absorption of projection, which is the absorption of the projection of the very role the anima played as go-between for the ego and the Self.

When the ego is able to accept the great responsibility for this role, the anima will die or fade back into the instinctual unconscious (be depotentiated).  She will have lost her form (the result of egoic projection in the first place).  But that is at least a couple dreams and installments away at the moment.  However, there is a distinct chance that, with the anima initiation, some intimations of the eventual great sacrifice will be glimpsed (and probably, without any such intimations, one has not yet been anima initiated).  We must at least be able to distantly intuit this (and accept it) in order to submit to the initiation.  There will be plenty of time to shout "let this cup pass from me" when the time comes.  It is always easier to imagine our heroism than to live it.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 12:18:21 PM by Matt Koeske »
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]