Author Topic: the Hero Archetype  (Read 37871 times)

Sealchan

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the Hero Archetype
« on: January 31, 2008, 05:53:58 PM »
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Quote from: Kafiri on Yesterday at 07:19:38 AM
Matt,
I disagree with you here.  The "heroic sacrifice" is a precursor to an encounter with the Self.  The Hero's task is to develop his ego strength until he can bow down(sacrifice) before the anima.  Take a look at this post:  http://uselessscience.com/forum/index.php?topic=166.msg743#msg743

Further Beebe writes:  "Like all mythic images, the anima is a root metaphor for an unconscious style of thought and behavior that underlies conscious choices. . . .  only the anima can deliver a man into a consciousness that is based, not on heroic self-mastery, but rather on empathic participation in life." It seem to me that men need this form of consciousness before they can relate to the Self, as von Franz says, "in the right way."

Hi Kafiri,

This leads to one of my fundamental gripes with conventional Jungian thinking.  The difference you note is, I think, primarily a difference in the way I use some conventional Jungian terms.  This notion of the hero that Beebe and many other Jungians use is entirely foreign to me (on a personal/experiential level).  I see it crop up in some myths . . . Sigfried, for instance (which was probably the foundation of Jung's hero notion), Heracles, and Gilgamesh (for a poem criticizing this attitude in a Gilgamesh figure, see my poem "Slaying Humbaba").  But the heroes in fairytales rarely resemble this conquering mode that stands against the Dark Mother and falls to the seduction of the mysterious woman or witch.  In fairytales, the hero has more of the Fool in him and doesn't succeed by might but by fortune, luck, blessing, and sometimes wit (i.e., by "plasticity").

For me, that is the real hero.  This Siegfried ambitious conqueror type has no appeal for me at all.  And so, yes, I agree that that kind of "hero" must be initiated (or more accurately, "killed") before the anima work can begin.  This is, perhaps, why in the stories of such heroes, they die in the end.  That "heroic mode" cannot go on indefinitely.

This is probably worth separating into a separate thread on the Hero archetype.  I think kafiri has finally identified one of the deeper points that I also am in disagreement with you on.  I'm not sure I know Kafiri's full position and I haven't read through your post but I am excited to have found a hook into some of the intuitive discrepancies that I have been feeling regarding some of your views.

Siegfried is an excellent example and, again, without having read your post let me inject my understanding of the hero archetype.  Taken from Wagner's opera, The Ring of the Nibelung, the third opera Siegfried focuses on the raising of Siegfried, his escape from the machinations of his foster parent and enemy Mime, his battle with the dragon Fafner, the transformation of consciousness caused by the tasting of Fafner's blood, the defeat of his hidden father Wotan as he ascends the Fire Mountain and awakens his destined bride Brunehilde whom he first mistakes for his mother and then discovers his sexual instinct in her ending with the imminent coniunctio as the music swells to a glorious climax.

To me this story is all about the first part of life (half may be too much) where the child awakens to the world within and without and develops his ego to be able to separate and connect on its own agenda and not succomb to potentially overwhelming outer influences.  Siegfried defeats Fafner and gains the ability to hear the song of the bird both instinct and spirit in order to follow his destined path into the arms of his anima.  The hero descends to the underworld (Mime's cave, Fafner's cave) and defeats the dragon-enemy, achieves the treasure and returns to the upper world (via Wotan) where he must translate the inner value-treasure to a worldly good (adventures of Siegfried which are briefly indicated at the beginning of the fourth opera Twilight of the Gods).  At the top of the mountain Siegfried meets and joins with his anima. 

This indicates the ego's development as a non-self-conscious process of descent and ascent.  This is roughly equivalent to today's development from childhood to early adulthood when the individual becomes an independent contributing member of society.  The inner accomplishment is the preparation of the ego to be ready to join with its complimentary opposite anima/us as well as the outer accomplishment of the slaying of the mother and father (in this story the mother dies in child birth and the father is a God so he is merely defeated in combat, but his active role in the epic saga ends at this point) which is to be understood as the stepping away from the traps of the mother and father complex, and the actual achievement of the soul mate symbolized by the marriage or sexual union. 

All of this is "pre-individuation" in my view.  This is the non-self-conscious developmental style that Campbell has shown extensively in his Hero with a Thousand Faces.  It includes the encounter with the Mother, Father, Shadow, Anima/us but is not required to be self-conscious.  This is early Genesis, pre-literate mythology and not post-literate, fairy tale or post-Christ/Buddha type of myth.   Also the post-Celtic Arthurian romance tales are very much kill the dragon, get the girl.  There are more feminine oriented tales especially in the European and other folk tale and fairy tale traditions that still half fit Campbell's Hero's Journey model but contain enough differences to warrant the several books written on the subject by Neumann and other mainly female authors.

In my understanding most of what you talk about Matt is a later process of self-conscious development where the whole Hero's Journey is visited and revisited but with a growing sense of familiarity and deconstruction.  This is where the fourth opera comes in in Wagner's cycle.  Twilight of the Gods details hmmm...(I'm just now realizing how the second anima theme is demonstrated here)...anyway, details how Siegfried's isolated power is now subject to corruption by the world he has conquered.  He is tricked with a potion to forget his anima-bride left behind on the mountain top and to fall in love with a less noble lady.  Her brother plans to kill him (echoes of the Isis-Osiris-Set-Nephthys quaternity?) and take Siegfried's inheritance.  Well, eventually this plan works and by the time it does Brunehilde has shown up and gone through the whole process of hating Siegfried and then finding out that he was duped.  So Siegfried falls (and we have the theme music to the movie Excalibur as a result) and we see the glorious accomplishment of Wotan who in a Christ-like or Bodhisattva-like self-sacrifice accomplishes the salvation of the world from the curse of the Ring which, as far as I can tell, is the curse of tyranny and the choking out of free will.  As self-consciousness post Christ/Buddha grows the gods diminish. 

Now Parsifal...there is an individuation story...

Kafiri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2008, 08:23:05 PM »
Sealchan,
Thank you for starting this thread - let the festivities commence!!!

Let me begin explaining a couple of things from my perspective.  First, Matt is correct in a very limited sense when he relates the hero to the ego.  IMO this relation has it genesis when the ego "identifies" with the archetype; in this situation the ego is unconsciously bound to the archetype.  Let me be clear here also, about one critical aspect of projection that is quite often overlooked; to wit:  it is one thing for me to project onto others, it is a quite different matter for me to "carry" a projection.  By carrying a projection I mean that someone else has projected an archetype onto me.  When a "weak" ego "carries" a projection, the archetype in the projection is activated in the carrier.  In the case of a "mother's son" the mother projects the hero onto the son.  This tends to activate the hero archetype in the unconscious of the son, and the weak ego identifies with the archetype.  This is very clear in both the story of Parsifal and Perseus.  In both these myths the father is absent from the story.  Both tales begin with only the mothers and the sons.  This is the key departure point.  In the Perseus tale he must eventually slay the Medusa(the mother complex); and he accomplishes this only with the aid of the feminine(anima) in the form of the Gray Women and Athena.  As to the Grail legend:
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When the anima is not projected on to a woman but remains in her own place in the soul, she is for man a mediatrix of the contents of the unconscious.  The Grail Bearer, whom Perceval is to meet later, can be considered such a figure.  On the whole the there are many feminine characters in the Grail literature who bear the stamp of the anima and are to be understood less as real women than as anima figures endowed with superhuman qualities and archetypal traits.
Emma Jung and M.L. von Franz, The Grail Legend, P. 65

This is why, IMO, Beebe is correct that we men, particularly if we are "mother's son's", must come to terms with our Anima if we are to mature psychologically. Sealchan does this have any resonance for you?
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2008, 12:26:16 PM »

From Wikipedia:
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The monomyth (often referred to as "the hero's journey") is a description of a basic pattern found in many narratives from around the world. This universal pattern was described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).[1] A noted scholar of novelist James Joyce, Campbell borrowed the term monomyth from Joyce's Finnegans Wake.

Campbell's insight was that important myths from around the world which have survived for thousands of years, all share a fundamental structure. This fundamental structure contains a number of stages, which includes

   1. A call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline
   2. A road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails
   3. Achieving the goal or "boon", which often results in important self-knowledge
   4. A return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail
   5. Applying the boon, in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world

In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell wrote:
“ A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

The classic examples of the monomyth relied upon by Campbell and other scholars include the Buddha, Moses, and Christ stories, although Campbell cites many other classic myths from many cultures which rely upon this basic structure.


In the monomyth, the hero starts in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unusual world of strange powers and events. If the hero accepts the call to enter this strange world, the hero must face tasks and trials, and may have to face these trials alone, or may have assistance. At its most intense, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help earned along the journey. If the hero survives, the hero may achieve a great gift or "boon." The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, the hero often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero is successful in returning, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world. The stories of Osiris, Prometheus, Moses, Buddha, and Christ, for example, follow this structure very closely.

Campbell describes some seventeen stages or steps along this journey. Very few myths contain all seventeen stages — some myths contain many of the stages, while others contain only a few; some myths may have as a focus only one of the stages, while other myths may deal with the stages in a somewhat different order. These seventeen stages may be organized in a number of ways, including division into three sections: Departure (sometimes called Separation), Initiation and Return. "Departure" deals with the hero venturing forth on the quest; "Initiation" deals with the hero's various adventures along the way; and "Return" deals with the hero's return home with knowledge and powers acquired on the journey.

The monomyth structure can be found in many popular books and films, such as the Star Wars and The Matrix movie series, and the Harry Potter series of novels.


Campbell's Monomyth Stages (From The Hero with a Thousand Faces):

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Chapter I: Departure

    1. The Call to Adventure: The adventure begins with the hero receiving a call to action, such as a threat to the peace of the community, or the hero simply falls into or blunders into it. The call is often announced to the hero by another character who acts as a "herald". The herald, often represented as dark or terrifying and judged evil by the world, may call the character to adventure simply by the crisis of his appearance.

    2. Refusal of the Call: In some stories, the hero initially refuses the call to adventure. When this happens, the hero may suffer somehow, and may eventually choose to answer, or may continue to decline the call.

    3. Supernatural Aid: After the hero has accepted the call, he encounters a protective figure (often elderly) who provides special tools and advice for the adventure ahead, such as an amulet or a weapon.

    4. The Crossing of the First Threshold: The hero must cross the threshold between the world he is familiar with and that which he is not. Often this involves facing a "threshold guardian", an entity that works to keep all within the protective confines of the world but must be encountered in order to enter the new zone of experience.

    5. The Belly of the Whale: The hero, rather than passing a threshold, passes into the new zone by means of rebirth. Appearing to have died by being swallowed or having their flesh scattered, the hero is transformed and becomes ready for the adventure ahead.



Chapter II: Initiation

    1. The Road of Trials: Once past the threshold, the hero encounters a dream landscape of ambiguous and fluid forms. The hero is challenged to survive a succession of obstacles and, in so doing, amplifies his consciousness. The hero is helped covertly by the supernatural helper or may discover a benign power supporting him in his passage.

    2. The Meeting with the Goddess: The ultimate trial is often represented as a marriage between the hero and a queenlike, or mother-like figure. This represents the hero's mastery of life (represented by the feminine) as well as the totality of what can be known. When the hero is female, this becomes a male figure.

    3. Woman as the Temptress: His awareness expanded, the hero may fixate on the disunity between truth and his subjective outlook, inherently tainted by the flesh. This is often represented with revulsion or rejection of a female figure.

    4. Atonement with the Father: The hero reconciles the tyrant and merciful aspects of the father-like authority figure to understand himself as well as this figure.

    5. Apotheosis: The hero's ego is disintegrated in a breakthrough expansion of consciousness. Quite frequently the hero's idea of reality is changed; the hero may find an ability to do new things or to see a larger point of view, allowing the hero to sacrifice himself.

    6. The Ultimate Boon: The hero is now ready to obtain that which he has set out, an item or new awareness that, once he returns, will benefit the society that he has left.



Chapter III: Return

    1. Refusal of the Return: Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.

    2. The Magic Flight: When the boon's acquisition (or the hero's return to the world) comes against opposition, a chase or pursuit may ensue before the hero returns.
   
    3. Rescue from Without: The hero may need to be rescued by forces from the ordinary world. This may be because the hero has refused to return or because he is successfully blocked from returning with the boon. The hero loses his ego.

    4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold: The hero returns to the world of common day and must accept it as real.

    5. Master of the Two Worlds: Because of the boon or due to his experience, the hero may now perceive both the divine and human worlds.

    6. Freedom to Live: The hero bestows the boon to his fellow man.



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Other Formulations

Campbell's proposed structure has been expanded and modified since its conception. Many modern characterizations of it add in new steps (such as the hero having a miraculous birth) or combine or prune others. For instance, Phil Cousineau, in his book, The Hero's Journey, divides it up into the following eight steps:

   1. The Call to Adventure
   2. The Road of Trials
   3. The Vision Quest
   4. The Meeting with the Goddess
   5. The Boon
   6. The Magic Flight
   7. The Return Threshold
   8. The Master of Two Worlds


Another eight-step formulation was given by David Adams Leeming in his book, Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero:

   1. Miraculous conception and birth
   2. Initiation of the hero-child
   3. Withdrawal from family or community for meditation and preparation
   4. Trial and Quest
   5. Death
   6. Descent into the underworld
   7. Resurrection and rebirth
   8. Ascension, apotheosis, and atonement


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

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2008, 12:27:18 PM »
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This is why, IMO, Beebe is correct that we men, particularly if we are "mother's son's", must come to terms with our Anima if we are to mature psychologically. Sealchan does this have any resonance for you?

Sure, although I usually feel out of my element in looking at how interpersonal dynamics affect an individual's archetypal associations, this certainly sounds plausable. 

I would agree generally that a male ego in relationship with its anima is better off than one that remains in relationship with a mother figure exclusively and I would say it is preferable to relate to an anima that is not a projection onto a known waking world figure rather than one that is.  Each indicates a progressive step in the differentiation of the individual from an original unconscious connectivity to these forms of the feminine other (to the masculine ego).

But I would like to say that identification with the hero archetype is functional at times.  In my understanding, it is especially helpful at a very young age (before one could possibly not be susceptible to archetypal identification) such as around 5 years old.  I think that after this stage of ego development the usefulness of hero identification diminishes excepting when engaging with the collective where it can come in handy if you are self-conscious about it.  Otherwise, you suffer in the way that so many media stars have suffered and are suffering...lonely (separated) amidst the adoring multitudes whose adoration somehow eventually does not provide you with the needed meaning...

The relationship between the hero and the mother is an interesting one.  The miraculous birth of the hero is understood against the background of the Great Mother unconscious.  The hero is born with all the attributes he needs to succeed.  It is as if he is the divine solution to the problem that another "brooding" consciousness has already asked for due to a problematic polarization that it has contained.  But if this "brooding" a.k.a. feminine consciousness is mapped to the whole psyche then containment is granted.  So the Great Mother is the ultimate psychic container.  And just as the Great Mother unconscious is the source of consciousness, it is also the source of a solution to the problematic polarizations that the ego-consciousness finds itself in later. 

The hero is the complimentary perspective to the above view of consciousness born of the unconscious.  In what I call the "separative" view (patriarchal, masculine), this same story is told from the view of the ego.  From this view the ego is self-created.  It has pulled itself up by its own bootstraps working against rather than with the pre-existent parental forces that be.  Later the ego must return to what is truly the Great Mother's body (uroboric incest) to get the anima-treasure and return with it back to the upper world.  The heroic ego is, by birth, ready for this challenge but the more psychologically sophisticated the storyteller the more the hero is seen to personally struggle through the experience of the return to the mother (unconscious) to resolve the dilemna's of consciousness. 

There is a lot of room for confusion here regarding a mother complex as a problem versus the archetypal dynamics typical of a heroic consciousness having to voluntarily re-enter the realm of the Mother.  I think that there it may be extremely difficult to differentiate the two, in fact, it may not be possible from the examination of a dream alone without knowing in detail the individual's waking world situation.  I have been endeavoring to discover such a way in my own dreams but have only my own conscious self-understanding to go on.  In the end I usually come back to a mystical sense that the heroic strengths and tragic flaws of the ego are two-sides to the same coin.  Problems are opportunities as the Ferengi like to say.

What is a Mother complex if one does not, in fact, have an active problematic relationship, in the waking world, with one's mother?  How do we independently verify the claims of a dream as to our personal developmental condition?  Dreams will often make us look like the villian in one dream and the hero in the next, or cowardly in one dream and brave in the next, etc...  So how do we objectively apply a diagnosis of complex X?  Or is the complex diagnosis simply one way of looking at the psychic configuration that does not preclude another perspective which need not consider the complex as the "real issue"?

Perhaps one method would be to review dream content generally to look for thematic biases (a general lack of the presence of the father or mother, for instance) and then suggest that the psyche is "complexed" in this way or that. 




Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2008, 12:32:45 PM »

Neat, graphic style site with Monomyth cycle wheel: http://ias.berkeley.edu/orias/hero/
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2008, 03:06:24 PM »
This is probably worth separating into a separate thread on the Hero archetype.  I think kafiri has finally identified one of the deeper points that I also am in disagreement with you on. . . .

Siegfried is an excellent example and, again, without having read your post let me inject my understanding of the hero archetype.  Taken from Wagner's opera, The Ring of the Nibelung . . . .

To me this story is all about the first part of life (half may be too much) where the child awakens to the world within and without and develops his ego to be able to separate and connect on its own agenda and not succomb to potentially overwhelming outer influences.  Siegfried defeats Fafner and gains the ability to hear the song of the bird both instinct and spirit in order to follow his destined path into the arms of his anima.  The hero descends to the underworld (Mime's cave, Fafner's cave) and defeats the dragon-enemy, achieves the treasure and returns to the upper world (via Wotan) where he must translate the inner value-treasure to a worldly good (adventures of Siegfried which are briefly indicated at the beginning of the fourth opera Twilight of the Gods).  At the top of the mountain Siegfried meets and joins with his anima.

Chris, although I've heard the music, I have never intimately acquainted myself with the Wagner version of the story.  In college, I had a Germanic Myths and Legends class in which I read the original rendering of the Sigfried/Sigurd story (which is summarized here) that ends with his tragic (not heroic) death.  We could say that his "crime" was an inability to commit to the coniunctio and dissolution (ego-death).  Thus, I associated him with Gilgamesh who also ultimately fails in his quest for immortality.

As far as the Wagnerized version goes, I think it is worth considering that it became an inspiration behind National Socialism, which is an ideology of what I was calling the conquering hero.  I don't mean to suggest that it isn't a "genuinely mythic" story, merely that there is inherent in it the very same egomania I attribute to the conquering hero.  This egomania is always replete with devaluation of the Other and the "base".  We could say that these things are representations of the instinctual unconscious that have not been recognized or valuated.  The conquering hero's egomania also prevents him from truly uniting with the anima (as Beebe and Kafiri have said).  Additionally, the egomania and desire to conquer and colonized (in the name of the ego) engenders a brutal and horrific shadow, which is the mirror opposite (and twin) of the conquering hero. 

This is sort of what Jung tried to write about in his infamous essay, "Wotan" . . . but (as I argued in the previous thread), I think he was too enraptured by this conquering hero myth (and its notion of the Great Man) to get enough distance from the complex to critique it accurately.  As a result this was one of the main roots of the accusations of his antisemitism.  The reality of all this is, I think, much more complex than it is often rendered (by either his supporters or his detractors) . . . but I do feel quite strongly that Jung was partly enraptured by this conquering hero mythos.  And that it had a detrimental effect on his thinking (not to mention his reputation).

This indicates the ego's development as a non-self-conscious process of descent and ascent.  This is roughly equivalent to today's development from childhood to early adulthood when the individual becomes an independent contributing member of society.  The inner accomplishment is the preparation of the ego to be ready to join with its complimentary opposite anima/us as well as the outer accomplishment of the slaying of the mother and father (in this story the mother dies in child birth and the father is a God so he is merely defeated in combat, but his active role in the epic saga ends at this point) which is to be understood as the stepping away from the traps of the mother and father complex, and the actual achievement of the soul mate symbolized by the marriage or sexual union. 

All of this is "pre-individuation" in my view.

I agree with you that this is "pre-individuation" (as in before individuation begins).  My only nitpick is that I would say that none of this really has anything to do with individuation and is not a necessary "proto-individuation" or preparation for individuation.  Epic though it may be, I think this is a myth of (modern or proto-modern) culture more so than of human psychology.  We only need to go through such a myth if we are "ego-inflated" and have fallen into the complex of the conquering hero, the ego that believes it can and should control everything.  I see this as a disease that is especially noticeable in those who have obtained (or have been given) power.  This is the attitude that must die in us (if it exists) so that we can enter into the instinctual individuation process (and "animi initiation").  But the attainment of such an attitude is not, in my opinion, an essential part of pre-adult ego development.  It is not the "archetype" of ego development . . . but rather, the myth of a particular complex whose signature is egomania.  As it depicts a complex more so than an adaptation, it more closely resembles Freud's favored Oedipus Complex than a true "hero's journey" of individuation.

My take on childhood ego-development is that it is more of an indoctrination process than a "conquering" of the mythic parents or the parental unconscious.  For instance, I think very few people in our society have actually moved beyond the child/parent relationship to their unconscious.  If they had, Christianity (which encourages this dynamic) would no longer be a suitable mass religion and expression of human spirituality.  In order for a child's ego to develop through adolescence, no conquering is necessary . . . and I would argue that any feeling of conquering is an illusion, perhaps even a delusion of inflation.

It may be that that inflation can sometimes manifest as a belief that one has conquered his or her instincts, "mastered" chaos, and taken control of his or her destiny.  And perhaps this notion is derived intuitively from a distant glimpse of the individuation instinct (and then horribly distorted), but this isn't genuine individuation.  The mark of individuation is the "see-through" and dissolution of tribal affiliations.  I.e., individuation.  The becoming of an individual, something no longer defined by the collective.  This is not in any way "empowerment" or "mastery of self".  It's very much the opposite . . . a surrendering to the instinctual process of individuation, usually represented by the death of the "social personality" or the part of the ego defined by the Tribe and affiliations to it.

The tricky thing is that there are definitely parallels between the individuation mythos (Hero's Journey) and this egomaniacal transcendence and self-empowerment.  For instance, death/rebirth symbols.  My feeling, though, is that the death of the conqueror is not really the same things as the alchemical/shamanic/individuation death, dissolution, dismemberment . . . or stripping of the ego's tribal affiliations and identity.  In the conqueror's myth, I suspect we are seeing something like the death of "ego weakness" and the rebirth of the empowered ego (i.e., the death of the ego that is not approved of by the group and the birth/fabrication of the ego that is closer to the group's projected ideal).  A real world example of this might be the "pick yourself up by your bootstraps" ideology behind a body building binge or the notion that we must prove our worth by earning a medical or law or doctorate degree.

Sometimes these experiences help us realize that we are capable of more than we realized (a la a "vision quest"), but I think that much of the time they are elaborate masks or outfits we put on in order to stave off our feelings of weakness.  We don't actually "conquer" our weakness and fear, we just manage to hide it from society and hope that, in the eyes of the group, we will be seen as strong and brave and accomplished.  But it's just a fortress, a defense . . . and if and when individuation proper comes upon us, this fortress must be destroyed.  The more substantial it is, the harder it will be for us to individuate, the more painful it will be when it is being torn down. 

This is a pretty well-accepted aspect of the ideology behind asceticism.  In Buddhism, this would be "attachment" and "desire".  The idea is that the spiritual life, the relationship between ego and Self cannot be pursued effectively unless these barriers are torn down.  I think this is reflected in the Gospel saying of Jesus about it being easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven.

This is the non-self-conscious developmental style that Campbell has shown extensively in his Hero with a Thousand Faces.

As my post of Campbell's hero outline shows, Campbell's conception of the hero went beyond this.  Actually, I have no major gripes with Campbell's outline (minor ones, yes).  It fits pretty well with my general conception of the hero.  But as I mentioned in the post from the other thread, I feel that Campbell and the Jungians do not make an adequate differentiation between the egoic conqueror and the true hero.  They have been bamboozled by the seeming overlap in the early stages, but they have not inquired sufficiently into the differences.  That's why I feel a differentiation needs to be made.  And that's why I feel the failure to make that differentiation serves the occlusion of individuation in the Jungian system.  In the past I have expressed this also as the Jungians not having a functional system to deal with inflation.  They recognize it, but can't resolve it, because they cannot differentiate the true hero from the conqueror.

[A side note: this inability to make a differentiating judgment would, in Jung-speak, derive from a failure to apply or valuate the "feeling function".  The "thinking function" doesn't need to make a differentiation here, because it all fits nicely into paradigmatic categories like "death and rebirth" or "road of trials".  As a devalued bit of abstract information, the conqueror cannot be differentiated from the true hero.  But the feeling intelligence comes in to tell us that one thing is different from the other based on the discrimination of value.  Seen in this light, it is no surprise that the Jungians have failed to make this necessary differentiation . . . since feeling is a devalued function in the Jungian psychic pantheon.  Much like sensation . . . whereas thinking and intuition are exalted.]

My guess would be that the mythos of the conqueror is a good portrait of the shadow of the hero.  Psychologically speaking, this would be the fearful and fragile ego that puts on the hero's clothes and usurps his power in order to defend against his own weakness.  And I use the masculine pronoun here because this is very much a patriarchal, male myth of ego transcendence.  Yet another example of how it is specific to a cultural construct and not a pure expression of instinct.  This conqueror shadow/persona is what the individuant needs to keep a good eye on.  It is what undermines efforts at individuation.  Its inflation leads it to believe that what it's doing is individuating, when in fact it is defending against individuation.  It is what I mean when I say "the Demon of the complex" . . . as this Demon would manifest in someone seeking or desiring individuation.

In my understanding most of what you talk about Matt is a later process of self-conscious development where the whole Hero's Journey is visited and revisited but with a growing sense of familiarity and deconstruction.  This is where the fourth opera comes in in Wagner's cycle.  Twilight of the Gods details hmmm...(I'm just now realizing how the second anima theme is demonstrated here)...anyway, details how Siegfried's isolated power is now subject to corruption by the world he has conquered.  He is tricked with a potion to forget his anima-bride left behind on the mountain top and to fall in love with a less noble lady.  Her brother plans to kill him (echoes of the Isis-Osiris-Set-Nephthys quaternity?) and take Siegfried's inheritance.  Well, eventually this plan works and by the time it does Brunehilde has shown up and gone through the whole process of hating Siegfried and then finding out that he was duped.  So Siegfried falls (and we have the theme music to the movie Excalibur as a result) and we see the glorious accomplishment of Wotan who in a Christ-like or Bodhisattva-like self-sacrifice accomplishes the salvation of the world from the curse of the Ring which, as far as I can tell, is the curse of tyranny and the choking out of free will.  As self-consciousness post Christ/Buddha grows the gods diminish.

The sense I got was that the Nazis looked on the deception and betrayal of Siegfried (by a "lesser man") as akin to the threat the Jews and other "undesirables" posed to German entitlement.  This parallels the perennial "blame the Jews" theme made into dogma by early Christianity.  I don't meant to claim that this is the kind of thing Wagner had in mind (I really don't know much about his intentions) . . . but again, I think it begs us to question why this theme can be so easily appropriated or misappropriated for the justification of immoral and destructive (Other-persecuting or -purging) behavior.  This is a large-scale example of why the differentiation I'm calling for is needed.  How do we discriminate?  How do we make sure we can tell the difference between individuation and egomania?

Criticisms on this issue have been leveled at Jungian psychology in the past (and reiterated by Richard Noll and others more recently).  What is the Jungian system for differentiating individuation and inflation?  I personally feel that there isn't one.  Instead, there is a taboo that totemizes inflation, characterizing it as the Big Bogeyman of "confrontation with the unconscious".  But because it is tabooed and totemized, we really can't know anything distinct about inflation and how it works.  The taboo prevents us from making the necessary differentiation . . . and this suggests that the very purpose of the taboo is to prevent the necessary differentiation that individuation requires.  This is akin to what I call the "self-deification taboo" and I think it is largely a Christian phenomenon.

I'm not suggesting that no Jungians make it past this obstacle (as not everyone is prone to extreme egomania or inflation), merely that they don't very well understand how they are able to do so . . . because they can never examine this inflation closely enough to bring a more scientific or rational language to it.  It also means that many Jungians might feel they are "individuating" while in fact they are caught in the snare of the inflation (this generally manifests with the individual's conflation of individuation with attainment or enlightenment or some other form of spiritual empowerment . . . like Kundalini awakening).

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

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2008, 05:42:40 PM »
Let me begin explaining a couple of things from my perspective.  First, Matt is correct in a very limited sense when he relates the hero to the ego.  IMO this relation has it genesis when the ego "identifies" with the archetype; in this situation the ego is unconsciously bound to the archetype.

I have been calling the hero the "heroic ego".  I feel that the hero is not one of the "Self-derived" archetypes.  It is an archetype of ego formation and development.  It isn't, therefore, an archetype that we should worship or bow down to.  Rather, I see it as a model for Self-devoted action and attitude that the ego aspires to.  This is part of the reason why, when we abide by this model, we experience sacrifice and symbolic "ego-death".  The heroic ego is the ego that is always devoted to the Self and not to the world or to tribal expectations or to egoic pursuits.

But in waking life, we cannot "become" the heroic ego.  It's function is not to govern material decision making (not directly), but to govern internal relationality (to the Self).  If an individuant is having success with the Work, s/he should be able to hear the voice of the heroic ego among the pack of "advisers" in the mind.  It still won't always be easily differentiable form the other internal advisers that may be giving poor or at least selfish or defensive advise . . . but it will be audible.

In conventional Jungian thinking, there is sometimes the belief that the ego shouldn't identify with (or even use as a model) archetypes.  I agree (that this is generally pathological) except in the case of the hero or heroic ego.  It is fair to say, I think, that the heroic ego is what the Self employs to encourage the waking ego to relate functionally to it (the Self).  The heroic ego is the portal through which such relation can take place.  The animi are like "lures" used by the Self to direct the ego toward this portal and toward identification (during introverted and meditative movements) with the heroic ego.

This is why the heroic ego and the animi together form the syzygy, the coniunctio, the divine hermaphrodite of alchemy.  I make a very strong distinction between identifying with this heroic ego and identifying with the Self.  The identification with the Self is an inflation.  Individuation is, I believe, meant to make a very clear distinction between ego and Self.  This is why I emphasize the individuated relationship with the Self as a relationship with the Self-as-Other (or Shadow-Self).

But this healthy identification with the heroic ego is functional only in the Work, only internalized and psychologized.  If we imagine ourselves to be heroic egos in our waking life and daily behaviors, we are also suffering from inflation.  I don't mean to claim that the heroic ego can't be a driving force behind real life decisions and actions (especially in the "second opus" period of individuation).  It certainly can.  But the individuated ego knows that although the action might appear heroic, the actor is not a hero, but rather the servant of an inner model.  That is, the real heroic ego is the attitude that surrenders itself to the Self and allows the Self to guide action.  Thus, even in action, the ego is surrendering internally.  This is similar to the wei wu wei of the Taoists: doing without doing or effortless doing.  I have sometimes called this "right action" to differentiate it from passive detachment.  It is acting with the Self's Will (and this sometimes means not completely understanding and certainly not controlling or determining the action).

When we believe that we are heroic in our action, we are mistaking our will for the Will of the Self . . . or more accurately, claiming that our egoic will is divine.  That is an inflation . . . and it takes a lot of Work to be able to properly differentiate.

Let me be clear here also, about one critical aspect of projection that is quite often overlooked; to wit:  it is one thing for me to project onto others, it is a quite different matter for me to "carry" a projection.  By carrying a projection I mean that someone else has projected an archetype onto me.  When a "weak" ego "carries" a projection, the archetype in the projection is activated in the carrier.  In the case of a "mother's son" the mother projects the hero onto the son.  This tends to activate the hero archetype in the unconscious of the son, and the weak ego identifies with the archetype.  This is very clear in both the story of Parsifal and Perseus.  In both these myths the father is absent from the story.  Both tales begin with only the mothers and the sons.  This is the key departure point.  In the Perseus tale he must eventually slay the Medusa(the mother complex); and he accomplishes this only with the aid of the feminine(anima) in the form of the Gray Women and Athena.

Excellent point . . . but I am not satisfied with the term "weak ego" here.  "Normal ego" would be better.  It is not a weakness to carry parental projections, because carrying projections from our parents is ubiquitous and unavoidable.  We should not judge ourselves too harshly in this matter of humanness, because if we do, we will never succeed in resolving the complex engendered by this inheritance.

In these situations (and I can certainly speak here from personal experience, as this is the core issue of my personal complex), what we are inheriting is not just the projection of the hero, but the projection (more like "dumping" or "saddling") of a dissociation of Opposites . . . which is essentially what a complex is.  That would mean that we don't only inherit the hero, we also inherit the hero's shadow, the Demon.  And the way the complex is likely to play out is that we (as individuals) get bogged down because the hero and the Demon are embroiled in constant conflict within us.  Sometimes the hero is winning and determining our actions and attitudes, and sometimes the Demon is winning.  The "complex" or pathology of it for us is a matter of not being able to 1.) differentiate the two Opposites, and 2.) not being able to reconcile them or see how they are one and the same at some level.

So, if we identify with the hero at the expense of the Demon, the Demon will always be pulling some of the strings behind our "heroism" (and we will remain unconscious of this).  Likewise, if we identify with the Demon, we will grant unconscious power to the hero (but damn ourselves by resisting that power).  Most likely, though, we will swing between these polarities.  If this hypothetical individual (whom I identify with) engages in the Work or the individuation process, s/he will move toward a synthesis of the Demon and the hero in a way that gradually depotentiates the anxiety causing dissociation of the Opposites.  We gain sympathy for the Demon and its weakness and gain freedom from the unconscious following of the heroic mold (toward destruction . . . because, remember, the true heroic mold is self-sacrifice, so "addiction" to the hero drives one to be overly self-sacrificing).

In some people with this complex it is possible for the hero and the Demon to be so dissociated from one another that the heroic mode will actually be Demonic (although the individual will be unconscious of this).  This might lead to that conquering version of the hero I've been railing against.

As for this complex being specifically related to an inheritance from the mother, I'm not entirely convinced.  The projection of the hero can come from the father just as much, and either parent can project it onto his/her son or daughter.  But in the situation that Kafiri illuminates (man inheriting it from his mother), dealing with the Feminine can be tricky.  There will likely be a sense that maternal approval is dependent upon a certain kind of "heroism", but this will be accompanied by a sense that a certain kind of heroism is "Demonic" and discouraged by the mother/Mother.  there is (and this is what I gather Kafiri is talking about) a danger of becoming "Mommy's little hero".  I sometimes call this the Good Son.

As any Men's Movement advocate would note, this is its own kind of imprisonment.  In Iron John speak, this is why the prince needs to steal the key from under his mother's pillow and unlock the cage where the wild man is being kept.  The "superego" of the complex will tell the princely ego that this is a very bad thing to do and it will violate his mother's trust.  It will tell him that the wild man in the cage is extremely dangerous, aggressive, and "masculine" and will run amok, destroying the kingdom if he is released.

I have seen a number of Jungian men get trapped in this psychic situation where they feel they are doing what is right by never stealing the key and alway pleasing the Mother and fulfilling her projections of the Good Son.  Sometimes this involves the raising up of the anima onto a pedestal where she is obeyed and cherish (but never, shall we say, "shagged").  After all, she is pure and holy and, well, kind of like Mom . . . and so to hunger for her would be incestuous and taboo.  Jung makes a big deal of this characterization of the anima . . . too big a deal, I think.

But there is no doubt some truth to his insistence that a "stealing of the key from beneath the Mother's pillow" requires the violation of a taboo.  I didn't personally experience an issue like this in my Work, perhaps because I already saw my mother's desire for me to be a Good Son as imprisoning.  Stealing the key was no big deal.  Learning how to live with the shame of being a Bad Son (and getting through the initiation and requisite "Kitchen Work") was what really challenged me.  I.e., going down was easy; getting back up was hard.

So, my experience with the anima was not very Mother-tinged or incestuous feeling.  It was distinctly a partnership.  Only in the end of the anima work did I see the residual maternalism that is always a part of the anima.  That is, any feeling we have that the anima completes us or lifts us up or saves us is, at its core, a dependence on the Mother (maternal aspect of the unconscious).  And eventually, we will have to face this and relinquish it (which is part of what I call the heroic sacrifice).  But before we face that, we must increasingly devote ourselves to the anima relationship in order to undergo our initiation and step into the "black blacker than black" of the nigredo.  I.e., the full dissolution/coniunctio and the creation of the true prima materia (unmediated relationship between the ego and the Self).


But I wouldn't look at all of the myths in which a goddess or magical woman saves or aids the male hero as indications of a failure of initiation.  Not everything in the Work is "achieved" through consciousness.  Although I would hesitate to use the term "provided", I do think that much in the Work is "earned" and comes as the result of a transaction (such as was indicated in one of my recent dreams in which a numinous meter reader gave me a 5 and a 55 dollar bill from his own wallet as repayment for a fine wrongfully given to me).  As the alchemists said, the work cannot be done without Nature's aid and direction.  It cannot be accomplished by artifice (egoic will).  I see the Work as more like the preparation of offerings to the gods or to Nature (or the instinctual Self).  If these offerings are deemed suitable, the Self will make some transaction or exchange for them.

A few years back, I was working on a poem about a Holy Fool character named Sagging Pants Picking Icicles.  The poem was "orated" to sagging Pants by the Tribal Elders who were granting him a kind of ritual autonomy.  The poem is a "roast" of Sagging Pants, and in their chastising approval, the Elders encourage Sagging Pants to "roar" even if he does not know what he is roaring about exactly.  And then I thought, "But who will come to hear such roaring?  Who will give a shit?  What's the point?"  And so I wrote this question directly into the poem and paused.  Then, instantly, the answer came to me: "Firebird will come to hear!"

Quote
Firebird will build aeries in your belly pit
out of tar and flint stone.
He’ll sashay like an exploding peacock
among your collectables’ aisles’ neat symmetries,
shaking his bombardier ass,
molting his tail feathers in a lewd aurora
to incubate your drip-grown hatcheries.

But before I could write that stanza and complete (and comprehend) the poem, I had to take a year to understand why Firebird would come to hear.  When I figured it out (and understood that Firebird was my "spirit animal"), I was able to finish the poem.  Firebird is the vehicle through which the Self "talks back" to me, and he was given to me as a gesture of good faith in return for the Logos I created (initially through my poetry).  This Logos was the offering I left for the Self to nourish it.  Firebird is the Self as listener to and diner on the Logos.

I was (with the help of Firebird) then able to write the final poem for my book, "A Volunteer from the Audience" . . .

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For the final act . . .
all those things we have been to each other,
discreet materia and connotation,
suits and signs and signifiers,
a dim sum spread out across the table
waiting for the hunger the road discards
as it wanders.

But on your command,
the sky leaps down
like a little white dog
caught licking the plates,
and you
appear me.

You are the magician,
after all.


So, when we read in the Odyssey that, after his many disastrous and wonderful journeys, Odysseus is left upon the shores of Ithaca asleep by Athena, I don't think we should see this as a failure to be initiated or a Mother-dependency.  It's a response to his sacrifice.  And it is not unlike the later scene in which Athena steps in to stop the slaughter of the suitor's families that Odysseus, Telemachus, and Laertes are embroiled in.  The Self does intervene, but not by our egoic determination, not because we command it or want it to.  It intervenes in a compensatory or reactive way.  It is not, like the Christian God, abstract and detached.  But its influence tends to be subtle and unconscious and often devalued by the ego (taken for granted).  That's why the alchemical opus is essentially a process of valuation ("transmutation") of what is debased.

The Self does not generally "provide" . . . it transacts, and that means that our relationship with the self is a matter of us having something of worth to give it.  Therefore the alchemist doesn't profit by the Work, and yet must be (psychically) "wealthy" enough to provide Gold to the process.


Of course, many stories do portray ego fantasies of a Mother-anima providing salvation to the ego (this is common in a lot of fantasy fiction and movies).  In reality, I think such "salvation" is usually a kind of imprisonment.  I.e., the Matrix.  That's a well chosen term for the illusion the "coppertops" live under in those films.  They are protected, mothered, but only so they can be used as fuel.


As to the Grail legend:
Quote

When the anima is not projected on to a woman but remains in her own place in the soul, she is for man a mediatrix of the contents of the unconscious.  The Grail Bearer, whom Perceval is to meet later, can be considered such a figure.  On the whole the there are many feminine characters in the Grail literature who bear the stamp of the anima and are to be understood less as real women than as anima figures endowed with superhuman qualities and archetypal traits.
Emma Jung and M.L. von Franz, The Grail Legend, P. 65

This is why, IMO, Beebe is correct that we men, particularly if we are "mother's son's", must come to terms with our Anima if we are to mature psychologically.

As indicated previously, although I do feel that the anima is a "mediatrix of the contents of the unconscious" (for a man), I think this mediating is transitional.  Even the lovely mediatrix must undergo a depotentiation in order to completely separate from the Mother (i.e., the unconscious as Mother).  I think there is more indication of acceptance for this sacrifice/depotentiation in the Men's Movement philosophies than there is in more conventional Jungianism.  That's a functional improvement in the way the Men's Movement portrays the anima work, and one that I think deserves to be better incorporated into "mainstream" Jungianism.

The Work will stall if we reach the stage of the heroic sacrifice (animi depotentiation) and "refuse the call".  The complete initiation of the ego by the animi requires the abandonment of dependency on them.  And this will be indicated by the animi themselves in most cases (and when the time is right).  That is, this sacrifice is not a "dumping" of the animi or a severing of the bond with them.  The animi will say, "I have to go now.  Accept it."  And we will say, "No!  You can't!  How can I go on without you?".  And they will reply, "You will manage."  And if we keep chasing them even after they have made this perfectly clear to us, the pursuit will lead us to ruin and confusion and estrangement or "world weariness" (because we can't get our libido directed completely into the world, and therefore the demands of the world tire and depress us).  Many of Bob Dylan's songs speak of the chasing of the anima after she has told him to go on without her.

Blood on the Tracks and Desire are amazing albums that really capture this . . . but even his most recent albums sing the same "tune" (albeit slightly more wearied and bluesy).

"Shelter from the Storm" (from Blood on the Tracks) is one of the best glimpses into Dylan's core complex.  The song combines Christ/Passion-identification images with anima attachment.  Both are two sides of the same coin.  He is facing the Christlike Passion or heroic sacrifice, but he can't go the last step . . . because . . .
Quote
Well, I'm livin' in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

He just can't give up the place "where it's always safe and warm" . . . the anima relationship.  But, hey, he weaves the mythology of this state of being into some amazing songs.  Nobody captures the feeling of anima loss and longing like Dylan.

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

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2008, 06:11:19 PM »
Quote
My take on childhood ego-development is that it is more of an indoctrination process than a "conquering" of the mythic parents or the parental unconscious.  For instance, I think very few people in our society have actually moved beyond the child/parent relationship to their unconscious.  If they had, Christianity (which encourages this dynamic) would no longer be a suitable mass religion and expression of human spirituality.  In order for a child's ego to develop through adolescence, no conquering is necessary . . . and I would argue that any feeling of conquering is an illusion, perhaps even a delusion of inflation.

I would say that in our Western society, in spite of the protective instincts of the parents, today's child is taught to separate from the parents even while the same parents urge their children to be obediant.  This is because of the myth of free will and individual responsibility.  We teach our children not to lie, not to steal, not to hit (except maybe in self-defense).  We teach them that they are to blame when they do something wrong.  We teach them, if they are Christian, that they are directly accountable to God and not via another agency.  We have to go bodily to school, pass the tests without help with the answers (we are assessed not for our ability to get the answers but to reproduce them with our memories), we get punished as individuals, rewarded as individuals.  We are ironically marketed to as individuals by indicating (to everyone) that if they used product X it would be an expression of their individual inclinations (even while the commercial uses not-so-subtle associative suggestions about just how much everyone will like you when you are using the product in question).  All of this is a teaching that we are not defined as part of a whole but as a separate being. 

Today's rituals are the practical rituals of test-passing (school exams, driver's license tests, college entrance exams, etc...)and experience and skill acquisition (riding a bike, driving a car, first kiss, etc...).  They are not so much sacred as they are practically necessary and indicative of our worship of conscious experience.  They are sacred if you consider that this is all predicated on the idea that we each must prove ourselves to some greater body that holds us in judgement.  This abstraction of accomplishment goes towards the sense of self as an abstract quantity.  It is a patriarchal dominance that forces us into relationship with the abstract, the Logos and we sink or swim under that collective, separative conditioning. 

This is simply what it is like to live in a world that embraces its consciousness as an experience rooted in the individual human body.  But I think it is easy for us to forget that this is an accomplishment of centuries in the making in spite of all of the problems that go with.  Because of this excessive separative, patriarchal orientation of the collective we have wars based on principles enacted on bad data (Iraq war/freedom/weapons of mass destruction).  In spite of all that is wrong about the world today, I still want to acknowledge that the heroic archetype is the central archetype of an early phase of our conscious development and that it was a natural process, one that we cannot judge except in how we wish to continue forward with that in further consciousness.  I don't mean to justify all of the horrors that might be attributed to such a development, indeed our role now is to apply our inheritence of consciousness to the task of further development to undo our inclinations to evil.  But I do think one would be hard pressed to prove that any other way of development would have been less bloody or cruel.

Matt, it seems to me that you are dismissing over a century of comparative anthropology, mythology and depth psychology in saying that the hero archetype is a problem to be solved and not at all an important process that brings us to the greater developed conscious perspective that we have.  My guess is that you find yourself overwhelmed by the evil of it all, how hurtful, painful, cruel and destructive this process has been.  And no doubt it has been a living hell for millions.  All of these tragedies serve to feedback into our self-awareness as motivations for the next heroic contribution to our collective.

Now, at the same time, I do recognize that in Campbell's Hero's Journey, the elements are slanted in the direction of a masculine psychology.  I think one of the most important areas of continuing Jungian research has been the efforts to uncover what might be a complimentary "heroine's journey".  This has been a theme that I have pursued since I have undertaken a serious study of Jungian psychology.  What a better understanding of a feminine psychology will bring, i suspect, is a complimentary view of the Hero's Journey as the adventure of both the rescuer and the rescued, the prince and the princess.  The anima and the animus tales combine into the fuller picture that we, each of us, experience though I think we also preferentially identify with one or the other side. 

Also, do not too quickly dismiss the whole for its parts...for example, all Christians have to come to terms with the following if they are conscious students of the Word:

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/But_to_bring_a_sword:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB)

Jesus taught not to be a simple minion of authority but to stand up against even the desires of one's parents and family members and hear the truth that He was giving.  This is quite explicit here.

Also, I am pretty sure that Wagner was an anti-Semite (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner#Controversies).  But are you dismissing the mythical value of the opera because of this abhorent fact?  I would understand a personal decision not to explore that work for that reason, but I would be careful about devaluing that work for that reason.

Quote
In order for a child's ego to develop through adolescence, no conquering is necessary . . . and I would argue that any feeling of conquering is an illusion, perhaps even a delusion of inflation.

Your last sentence strikes me with a tone of sadness.  I can appreciate the equanimity behind it, but I think it is naive in the extreme.  We all have our fears and our hopes and our desires and I can't imagine those without also imagining a place for the experience of conquering, of attaining against the odds, of sacrificing something if needed to get that sense that "I have done it...I have accomplished this...I, myself!"  There must be some room for this without it being merely a "delusion of inflation".  We cannot all progress without stepping on each other's toes, having to abandon whether it will hurt someone else if we do this, setting aside some kind of good sense in order to risk something of value to get something we value more.  There just isn't human life without room for this selfish urge. 

A child must conquer his or her fear of the night, of the boogeyman, of any number of manifestations of the unconscious.  A child must conquer his or her fear of rejection, of making a mistake, of looking like a fool, of being the focus of an embarrassing situation. 

No less so is it true in the psyche that conscious development requires repression, suppression even incipient neurosis, depression or anxiety than it is that life forms require the death of other life forms to survive.  It is a dirty, wicked game or you are not playing it.

So having said all this I hoped to strike a tone that I think should be in the repetoire of all serious students of the psyche.  Oftentimes it is a kill or get killed world "in there" and we have the right as ego-complexes, to consider the option of removing our inner enemies.  We just can't let the inner bullies to keep taking our libidic lunches away from us. 

Also, I recognize that all of this is part of the very problematic knots that we each get tied up in.  It is as if in the rush of the necessity to get out of the womb and grow up and live in this world we, of necessity, create as many problems for ourselves as we solve in that achievement.  That is the heroic cycle.  Later we must move to uncover our inner despot and make him or her more civilized, more in relationship to the other inner characters.  For women I suspect that this is often reversed...too long has the young feminine ego learned to manage the greater connectivity of inner (and outer) individuals at the risk of the accumulation of libidic power for her ego.  While the stereotypical male ego might be described as all power and no civility, the stereotypical female ego can be seen as all civility no power. 

And so the early animus experience is often of the invader or criminal coming in and blandishing a destructive (separative) power over the feminine ego and her world.  The animus, all power no discretion, is easily dismissed as an evil, disruptive male influence.  But the problem is that the feminine ego hasn't taken on the patriarchal role as separate individual and stood alone in passionate defiance of the innumerable, but reasonable, suppliable demands put upon her.  While young men are allowed to be selfish, young women are chastised for this.  And so men grow up to be "pigs" who take, take, take while women become "bitches" because they dare to complain and without what they could just give.  Obviously these are extremes and stereotypes.  But my favorite place, sometimes, to look for the truth is in the banal.

So I say, let's learn to get along and then break out your hockey sticks and let's RUMBLE!!!

Another thing I would like to add to my little stump speech is that I also see the hero's journey as a archetypal model that we revisit throughout our lives.  In the beginning it may be most like Campbell's vision.  But later in successive journey's we gradually deconstruct our past triumphs.  We have to give away all we have accumulated and hoarded in our inner psychic treasury.  We uncover the evils that have gone into our conscious development to make us fit and fast enough to "get what's ours".  I think by this point we have already struck a balance with one or two shadows, hooked up with a few of our animi.  But we continue to re-visit and re-negotiate our inner relationships all through life until the bitter and blissful end.  We are born and we die to our old egos and are again reborn, many times.  Eventually we learn how to willingly submit and also to hold on for we can't just give up every last ounce of our pride or sense of self no matter how wise it might seem to do so. 

To even claim to be, to exist is a great inflation!  Who are we to say we have a divine soul, that we have the right to live in this universe so much grander, more powerful and more important than any or all of us?  Part of the human condition is hubris and I will accept and even enjoy it even as I guard against it.  There I go being mystical again...


Kafiri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2008, 11:57:14 AM »
Quote from: Sealchan

Quote
This is why, IMO, Beebe is correct that we men, particularly if we are "mother's son's", must come to terms with our Anima if we are to mature psychologically. Sealchan does this have any resonance for you?

Sure, although I usually feel out of my element in looking at how interpersonal dynamics affect an individual's archetypal associations, this certainly sounds plausable. 

I would agree generally that a male ego in relationship with its anima is better off than one that remains in relationship with a mother figure exclusively and I would say it is preferable to relate to an anima that is not a projection onto a known waking world figure rather than one that is.  Each indicates a progressive step in the differentiation of the individual from an original unconscious connectivity to these forms of the feminine other (to the masculine ego).

Let me provide another insight here from the Men's work.  And, IMO, if you look you can see this quite often in our culture.

When a male does not, in Jungian terms, integrate the anima a split occurs.  It begins with the onset of puberty.  All of the boy's emotional eggs are in the "Mother's basket," so to speak.  But as the boy begins to experience sexual longings, he simply cannot think of "Mother" in this dimension.  So he splits off his sexual aspect and begins to see the age appropriate females around him, only as sexual objects.  This leads to a great devaluation of the feminine.  And the male himself, is split.  His emotional eggs are all in the Mother basket, and all his sexual eggs are in another basket entirely.  If the young male cannot "steal the key" from under his mother's pillow he will remain forever split.  How often do we observe a man, as his wife gets near his mother's age when he was a teen-age boy, leave her and project his anima onto a younger woman?  This is a classic example of a man with arrested anima development.  Also, why do women feel the need to demand "commitment" from men?  Because they are unconsciously aware that the men they are with are still emotionally commited to mother, albeit unconsciously.  Totally lacking in our culture are initiation rituals that break the golden thread between men and their mothers.

What we refer to as more "primitive" cultures were aware of the danger to the tribe that the mother-son bond entailed.  Attached is a section of Frank Waters novel, "The Man Who Killed The Deer," which describes how the Pueblo Indians dealt with this issue.  Also Mari Sandoz's "The Son," found in her short story collection, "Sandhill Sundays" describes the Sioux approach to the mother-son bond.  One thing I do want people to understand about male initiation is this:  the father cannot do it; he and the son are after the same woman.  A survey of cultures that have male initiation rituals demonstrate that the uncles, the grandfathers or the elders are charged with the duties of male initation.
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Kafiri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2008, 08:39:54 PM »
Quote

My take on childhood ego-development is that it is more of an indoctrination process than a "conquering" of the mythic parents or the parental unconscious.  For instance, I think very few people in our society have actually moved beyond the child/parent relationship to their unconscious.  If they had, Christianity (which encourages this dynamic) would no longer be a suitable mass religion and expression of human spirituality.  In order for a child's ego to develop through adolescence, no conquering is necessary . . . and I would argue that any feeling of conquering is an illusion, perhaps even a delusion of inflation.

I would say that in our Western society, in spite of the protective instincts of the parents, today's child is taught to separate from the parents even while the same parents urge their children to be obediant.  Taught by whom? This is because of the myth of free will and individual responsibility.  We teach our children not to lie, not to steal, not to hit (except maybe in self-defense).  We teach them that they are to blame when they do something wrong.  We teach them, if they are Christian, that they are directly accountable to God and not via another agency.  We have to go bodily to school, pass the tests without help with the answers (we are assessed not for our ability to get the answers but to reproduce them with our memories), we get punished as individuals, rewarded as individuals.  But, as Campbell points out in "The Power of Myth," ". . . We are in childhood in a condition of dependency under someone's protection and supervision for some fourteen to twenty-one years -  and if you're going on for your Ph. D., this may continue to perhaps thirty-five.  You are in no way a self-responsible, free agent, but an obedient dependant, expecting and receiving punishments and rewards.  To evolve out of this position of psychological immaturity to the courage of self-responsibility and assurance requires a death and resurrection.  That's the basic motif of the universal hero's journey - leaving one condition and finding the source of life to bring you forth into a richer or mature condition. (p. 124)  We are ironically marketed to as individuals by indicating (to everyone) that if they used product X it would be an expression of their individual inclinations (even while the commercial uses not-so-subtle associative suggestions about just how much everyone will like you when you are using the product in question).  All of this is a teaching that we are not defined as part of a whole but as a separate being. 

Today's rituals are the practical rituals of test-passing (school exams, driver's license tests, college entrance exams, etc...)and experience and skill acquisition (riding a bike, driving a car, first kiss, etc...).  They are not so much sacred as they are practically necessary and indicative of our worship of conscious experience.  They are sacred if you consider that this is all predicated on the idea that we each must prove ourselves to some greater body that holds us in judgement.  This abstraction of accomplishment goes towards the sense of self as an abstract quantity.  It is a patriarchal dominance that forces us into relationship with the abstract, the Logos and we sink or swim under that collective, separative conditioning. Which Jung abhorred.  ". . . The man of today, who resembles more or less the collective ideal, has made his heart into a den of murders, as can easily be proved by the analysis of his unconscious, even though he himself  is not in the least disturbed by it. . . ."    (Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious.)

This is simply what it is like to live in a world that embraces its consciousness as an experience rooted in the individual human body.  But I think it is easy for us to forget that this is an accomplishment of centuries in the making in spite of all of the problems that go with.  Because of this excessive separative, patriarchal orientation of the collective we have wars based on principles enacted on bad data (Iraq war/freedom/weapons of mass destruction).  In spite of all that is wrong about the world today, I still want to acknowledge that the heroic archetype is the central archetype of an early phase of our conscious development and that it was a natural process, one that we cannot judge except in how we wish to continue forward with that in further consciousness.  I don't mean to justify all of the horrors that might be attributed to such a development, indeed our role now is to apply our inheritence of consciousness to the task of further development to undo our inclinations to evil.  But I do think one would be hard pressed to prove that any other way of development would have been less bloody or cruel.

Matt, it seems to me that you are dismissing over a century of comparative anthropology, mythology and depth psychology in saying that the hero archetype is a problem to be solved and not at all an important process that brings us to the greater developed conscious perspective that we have.  But is not Matt saying only that the, as you correctly describe natural function, is taken over by the needs of the collective channeled through the ego via the PR machine?  Is this not plain in the so-called "action heroes?."  My guess is that you find yourself overwhelmed by the evil of it all, how hurtful, painful, cruel and destructive this process has been.  And no doubt it has been a living hell for millions.  All of these tragedies serve to feedback into our self-awareness as motivations for the next heroic contribution to our collective.

Now, at the same time, I do recognize that in Campbell's Hero's Journey, the elements are slanted in the direction of a masculine psychology.  I think one of the most important areas of continuing Jungian research has been the efforts to uncover what might be a complimentary "heroine's journey".  This has been a theme that I have pursued since I have undertaken a serious study of Jungian psychology.  What a better understanding of a feminine psychology will bring, i suspect, is a complimentary view of the Hero's Journey as the adventure of both the rescuer and the rescued, the prince and the princess.  Sealchan this is part of what I am attempting to point out when I write of females who project their "heroic"(to remove gender from consideration) onto the sons.  They have, in essence, given away a critical, natural part of themselves that they need for their own development.  The anima and the animus tales combine into the fuller picture that we, each of us, experience though I think we also preferentially identify with one or the other side. 

Also, do not too quickly dismiss the whole for its parts...for example, all Christians have to come to terms with the following if they are conscious students of the Word:

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/But_to_bring_a_sword:

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 10:34-39 NASB)

Jesus taught not to be a simple minion of authority but to stand up against even the desires of one's parents and family members and hear the truth that He was giving.  This is quite explicit here.  But Sealchan, as a nonbeliever, who values the Christian myth for it's psychological insights, I submit the Gnostic outlook(the hidden meanings), provide much more useful data that the literal outlook that the Christian forces have adopted.  For example:
The 7th Chapter of Matthew, begins:
{1} Judge not, that ye be not judged.

{2} For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.

{3} And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

{4} Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?

{5} Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

A perfect description of the psychological concept of projection.  But the Christians completely misinterpret this passage to mean we are not to judge others.


Also, I am pretty sure that Wagner was an anti-Semite (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner#Controversies).  But are you dismissing the mythical value of the opera because of this abhorent fact?  I would understand a personal decision not to explore that work for that reason, but I would be careful about devaluing that work for that reason.

Quote

In order for a child's ego to develop through adolescence, no conquering is necessary . . . and I would argue that any feeling of conquering is an illusion, perhaps even a delusion of inflation.


Your last sentence strikes me with a tone of sadness.  I can appreciate the equanimity behind it, but I think it is naive in the extreme.  We all have our fears and our hopes and our desires and I can't imagine those without also imagining a place for the experience of conquering, of attaining against the odds, of sacrificing something if needed to get that sense that "I have done it...I have accomplished this...I, myself!"  There must be some room for this without it being merely a "delusion of inflation".  We cannot all progress without stepping on each other's toes, having to abandon whether it will hurt someone else if we do this, setting aside some kind of good sense in order to risk something of value to get something we value more.  There just isn't human life without room for this selfish urge. 

A child must conquer his or her fear of the night, of the boogeyman, of any number of manifestations of the unconscious.  A child must conquer his or her fear of rejection, of making a mistake, of looking like a fool, of being the focus of an embarrassing situation. 

No less so is it true in the psyche that conscious development requires repression, suppression even incipient neurosis, depression or anxiety than it is that life forms require the death of other life forms to survive.  It is a dirty, wicked game or you are not playing it.  Well said Sealchan!! (-)appl(-)

So having said all this I hoped to strike a tone that I think should be in the repetoire of all serious students of the psyche.  Oftentimes it is a kill or get killed world "in there" and we have the right as ego-complexes, to consider the option of removing our inner enemies.  We just can't let the inner bullies to keep taking our libidic lunches away from us.  Don't we learn of the inner bullies by what we project? The analogy that I use here is the weather; most of the time it bearable.  But quite often the weather, just like those internal bullies, go about it's business totally unaware of my existence.  During these times of storms, blizzard, hurricanes, tornado's, and so on, it is up to me to protect myself.  I must find shelter, safe haven, warmth and any and all other things I need to survive this life-threatening natural phenomena. 

Also, I recognize that all of this is part of the very problematic knots that we each get tied up in.  It is as if in the rush of the necessity to get out of the womb and grow up and live in this world we, of necessity, create as many problems for ourselves as we solve in that achievement.  That is the heroic cycle.  Later we must move to uncover our inner despot and make him or her more civilized, more in relationship to the other inner characters.  For women I suspect that this is often reversed...too long has the young feminine ego learned to manage the greater connectivity of inner (and outer) individuals at the risk of the accumulation of libidic power for her ego.  While the stereotypical male ego might be described as all power and no civility, the stereotypical female ego can be seen as all civility no power. 

And so the early animus experience is often of the invader or criminal coming in and blandishing a destructive (separative) power over the feminine ego and her world.  The animus, all power no discretion, is easily dismissed as an evil, disruptive male influence.  But the problem is that the feminine ego hasn't taken on the patriarchal role as separate individual and stood alone in passionate defiance of the innumerable, but reasonable, suppliable demands put upon her.  While young men are allowed to be selfish, young women are chastised for this.  And so men grow up to be "pigs" who take, take, take while women become "bitches" because they dare to complain and without what they could just give.  Obviously these are extremes and stereotypes.  But my favorite place, sometimes, to look for the truth is in the banal.  It is a dance that both sexes are involved in.

So I say, let's learn to get along and then break out your hockey sticks and let's RUMBLE!!!

Another thing I would like to add to my little stump speech is that I also see the hero's journey as a archetypal model that we revisit throughout our lives.  In the beginning it may be most like Campbell's vision.  But later in successive journey's we gradually deconstruct our past triumphs.  We have to give away all we have accumulated and hoarded in our inner psychic treasury.  We uncover the evils that have gone into our conscious development to make us fit and fast enough to "get what's ours".  I think by this point we have already struck a balance with one or two shadows, hooked up with a few of our animi.  But we continue to re-visit and re-negotiate our inner relationships all through life until the bitter and blissful end.  We are born and we die to our old egos and are again reborn, many times.  Eventually we learn how to willingly submit and also to hold on for we can't just give up every last ounce of our pride or sense of self no matter how wise it might seem to do so. 

To even claim to be, to exist is a great inflation!  Who are we to say we have a divine soul, that we have the right to live in this universe so much grander, more powerful and more important than any or all of us?  Part of the human condition is hubris and I will accept and even enjoy it even as I guard against it.  There I go being mystical again...Good on you Sealchan, you old Mystic you!!! (-)howdy(-)


"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2008, 04:34:35 PM »

I would say that in our Western society, in spite of the protective instincts of the parents, today's child is taught to separate from the parents even while the same parents urge their children to be obediant.  This is because of the myth of free will and individual responsibility.  We teach our children not to lie, not to steal, not to hit (except maybe in self-defense).  We teach them that they are to blame when they do something wrong.  We teach them, if they are Christian, that they are directly accountable to God and not via another agency.  We have to go bodily to school, pass the tests without help with the answers (we are assessed not for our ability to get the answers but to reproduce them with our memories), we get punished as individuals, rewarded as individuals.

Chris, to me these things you mention are indoctrinations into ordered social behavior.  They are designed to keep the tribe coherent, not to promote individual expression or responsibility.  The very notion of abiding by laws (where violation is punishable by the tribe) is a relief of moral choice-making from individuals.  That is, an individual doesn't have to contemplate his or her actions based on their consequences or fairness to others; they merely have to obey laws unconsciously.  Law is an expression of tribal Eros in a concretized or totemized form.  The purpose of the law is to benefit and protect the tribe.  In our case, to benefit society.  The notion of individual rights and freedoms is still a relatively new one, one that denotes the modern . . . but these laws generally were created to increase tribal or inter-tribal cohesion.

That is, people (who weren't empowered, white males) or groups fought for their rights to vote or own property or live and travel where they wanted to.  Their fighting/activism eventually made it clear that they deserved these rights and that society as a whole would function more smoothly with these rights given to the underprivileged.  In our capitalist society, the bottom line in these modernist progressions was often money.  People with more rights can buy and own more things.  Even prejudice can't withstand the libido of economy indefinitely (in the modern world).

I know you feel that the modern myth is the myth of free will, but I half-disagree.  Yes, the belief in free will is important to us, but I don't think it is a "myth" proper, not in the Campbellian or Jungian sense.  That is, I don't think free will is rooted in instinct like myths have always conventionally been.  Therefore, my half-disagreement would have it that the modern myth is the myth of the individuant . . . which is what we see in most of the popular religions in fully modern cultures.  Buddhism is probably the most self-evident, but Christianity is definitely a myth of the ideal individuant, although this individuant figure, the godman, is often worshiped as a god instead of used as a model to emulate.

In stating that this is a myth, I mean to differentiate it from something we merely believe in.  Free will is something many moderns believe in . . . but the myth of the individuant is an unconscious driving force in our story-making.  A myth doesn't have to be realized.  As Kafiri said previously, myths can live us when we are unconscious of them.  One of the problems with the myth of the individuant is that we don't have an singular sacred text that brings this into modern language.  And so what we see today in the spiritual front is eclecticism and syncretism.  We might take a little Christianity, a little Eastern philosophy, a little existentialism, a little rationalistic science, a little democracy, etc.  But there is no one source that brings the myth together completely.  Yet, the very fact that we can formulate our myths and tribal affiliations in this eclectic fashion evokes the idea of the individuant.  That is, we are unconsciously striving for the "perfect" realization of this individuant within us . . . but we don't have functional guideposts.

As for free will, I think it is an illusion, mostly.  It is a belief that we are masters of our instincts, that we have transcended Eros and instinctuality.  I agree with the Jungian tradition here in seeing this attitude as dissociated and neurotic.  The more individuation Work we do, the more we are confronted with our lack of egoic freedom . . . or at least with the lack of value in such freedom/dissociation.  That is, the more we individuate, the more we live for the Self and the less we live for the ego.  On top of that, unconscious egoism tends to be especially tribalistic.  In such unconsciousness, we do not actually transcend our instinctual roots, but remain ignorant of them . . . and therefore, we remain ignorant of how "determined" our behavior is by forces other than the ego (like instinct and social conditioning).

We are ironically marketed to as individuals by indicating (to everyone) that if they used product X it would be an expression of their individual inclinations (even while the commercial uses not-so-subtle associative suggestions about just how much everyone will like you when you are using the product in question).  All of this is a teaching that we are not defined as part of a whole but as a separate being.

What you refer to is called "lifestyle marketing" and it is one of the contemporary "genius strokes" of the PR industry.  This industry very consciously figured out that people will buy individualized "identities" based on the tribes they identify with.  In our modern existence, these tribes tend to organize around "lifestyles", what we like to do, who we like to hang out with and absorb identity from.  Like many "advancements" in the PR industry, this came from the application of the psychology of the unconscious to the task of manipulating people out of their money.  This particular psychological tidbit and family jewel is simply our unconscious drive toward tribalism.  We very much like to live in or belong to tribes.  We extract our beliefs and identities from these sub-collectives.  Lifestyle marketing is profiteering based on the sale of tribal identity indicators (converting tribalistic libido currency into monetary currency . . . but not for the survival and betterment of all; instead this wealth is used to benefit those outside the tribe who have incorporated in order to remove it from tribes it was instinctually intended for).  See the BBC documentary, The Century of the Self for more on the history of the PR industry and its use of psychology.

The problem here is that there is a difference between true individualism (or individuation) and tribalism.  Lifestyle marketing still conforms more than it promotes individualism (and by a huge margin).

Today's rituals are the practical rituals of test-passing (school exams, driver's license tests, college entrance exams, etc...)and experience and skill acquisition (riding a bike, driving a car, first kiss, etc...).  They are not so much sacred as they are practically necessary and indicative of our worship of conscious experience.  They are sacred if you consider that this is all predicated on the idea that we each must prove ourselves to some greater body that holds us in judgement.  This abstraction of accomplishment goes towards the sense of self as an abstract quantity.  It is a patriarchal dominance that forces us into relationship with the abstract, the Logos and we sink or swim under that collective, separative conditioning.

I'm not sure I would call these things "rituals" . . . simple because they are not sacred, and rituals are meant to be sacred.  That is, rituals are meant to bring instinct into culture in an organized and constructive manner.  The things you mention here are, again (in my opinion), merely items of indoctrination into cultural conformity.  But they do not incorporate instinct ritually or in an organized fashion that emphasizes the numinousness of the ritual and its function as transformative aid or adaptivity.

This is simply what it is like to live in a world that embraces its consciousness as an experience rooted in the individual human body.  But I think it is easy for us to forget that this is an accomplishment of centuries in the making in spite of all of the problems that go with.  Because of this excessive separative, patriarchal orientation of the collective we have wars based on principles enacted on bad data (Iraq war/freedom/weapons of mass destruction).

I don't see how these elements of modern society are different than pre-modern societies . . . nor how the things you mention could be seen as progressive.

In spite of all that is wrong about the world today, I still want to acknowledge that the heroic archetype is the central archetype of an early phase of our conscious development and that it was a natural process, one that we cannot judge except in how we wish to continue forward with that in further consciousness.

It's true that children feel the heroic archetype and tend to identify with it in their fantasies and relate to it in the stories they hear and see.  But I'm not sure that the hero is really the culture-creating archetype.  I think the sociality instinct is the culture creator.  Sociality instinct + adequately sustainable environment + time = modernism.  The heroic instinct that children identify with is, I believe, an ego-modeling instinct.  Basically what I mean when I use the term super-adaptive instinct.  Children love the hero because the hero can not only survive, but flourish.  The hero is not destroyed by the world, but is, essentially, the raw spirit of life or individual libido.

But young children don't really understand the hero in an organized way (such as Campbell provides).  They only feel or intuit the generalities of the hero.  As the child is indoctrinated and socialized, the hero becomes depotentiated and marginalized.  We all know this to be true . . . and so we look back at our heroic ideals, fantasies, and aspirations from childhood as "foolish" or simplistic or wrongheaded.  I mean to suggest that the hero and tribal cohesion/indoctrination are forces often at odds with one another.  In the modern world where we believe the myth of free will and think we are culturally constructed (or egoically constructed), the idea of the anti-hero has become prominent.  The anti-hero is like a shadow hero.  S/he does not integrate properly into society . . . is a "mutant", is culturally dysfunctional.  But it's just the flip-side of the hero archetype, and it demonstrates that in modern society, the hero has been cast into the shadow.

That means that any individuating we do must be done through the shadow and in defiance of cultural expectations and tribal affiliations.  By the standards of modern culture the archetypal hero has no place in society.  And this has an ancient tradition is the hero-as-shaman who is not allowed to live entirely within the tribe, but must remain on the outskirts.  The shaman as individuant is, in this sense, tabooed.

But of course, the archetypal/mythic imagination of humanity can't be beaten out of us.  We still have heroic models galore in our fiction and films.  We yearn to believe our sports start are heroic (and so are always very disheartened when they turn out to be morons or assholes).  But these fantasies of the hero often deviate from a truly archetypal structure . . . probably because there are ulterior motivations behind their conceptualization.  Hollywood might build its heroes to appeal to a specific (uninitiated) demographic.  Individual writers might concoct their heroes based on their own psychology, complexes and all.  Even the Jungian and Campbellian notions of the hero (I would contend) are not entirely adequate for modern language . . . and do not allow us to fully comprehend and valuate the hero as a psychological influence.

The places where the hero shines through in a more complete light are in the collective texts like fairytales.  These manifestations of heroism have been revised again and again as they adapted to the environment of the oral tradition . . . perhaps like Dawkins' memes or mind-viruses, but in a more positive form.  Of course, sometimes individual artists have a very powerful and contemporary vision of the hero and are able to bring this to life in their art.  That is, I'm not suggesting that individual creation of myths is impossible by any means . . . but collective creation does tend to flesh out archetypes better on average.

I would contest that we simply have no coherent and complete modern hero archetype modeled for us . . . and that all of the old models are obsolete in one way or another.  Children's heroes seem like good ideals to use as models, but these models prove to be ineffective as the children approach adulthood.  And we tend to get dismayed by this and conclude that heroism is a pipe dream of ignorant youth.  But I disagree.  We just need to re-myth the hero and give it new, more contemporary, more complex expression.  This is precisely what we who follow spiritual disciplines are trying to do.  And so we give up old constructions like the conquering hero (which prove maladaptive), and we refine our notion of the hero to be an individual who is not only determined and strong, but flexible, empathetic, forgiving.  Instead of transcendence, we recognize that harmony with others and our environment (and within ourselves) is a more functional and adaptive goal.  And we seek this goal just as heroically as ever.

Whenever we do something "good" (even as it contrasts with our selfish desires or "better judgment"), it's the hero that orients us.  It's the hero on which we model our action.  I think of the archetypal hero as like an alchemical substance in a mixture.  The idea is to extract that substance from the other substances in the mix, because these other substances are "contaminants".  In other words, they are egoic desires, projections, selfishness, fear-driven defenses, and imprisoning anxieties largely based on what we are expected to be by the Tribe.  The expressions of the hero archetype we see in our cultures are more or less purified mixtures.  Sometimes they only contain 10% hero.  Other times, maybe they have 70% hero in them.

The goal of archetypal orientations like Jung's and Campbell's is to be able to differentiate these kinds of expressions based on a knowledge of what the pure heroic substance really is.  This allows us to understand that the 10% hero mixtures are not really good models.  They are not adequate expressions of the true hero.  The conquering hero, I'm arguing, is one of these too-diluted expressions of the hero.  It's one that is contaminated with a lot of egoic nonsense and "propaganda".  This might appeal to certain egos and even to certain cultures that tend to worship the ego . . . but it constitutes a usurpation of the heroic instinct and a misunderstanding of the heroic archetype.


Matt, it seems to me that you are dismissing over a century of comparative anthropology, mythology and depth psychology in saying that the hero archetype is a problem to be solved and not at all an important process that brings us to the greater developed conscious perspective that we have.  My guess is that you find yourself overwhelmed by the evil of it all, how hurtful, painful, cruel and destructive this process has been.  And no doubt it has been a living hell for millions.  All of these tragedies serve to feedback into our self-awareness as motivations for the next heroic contribution to our collective.

All I'm saying is that the "contaminated" notion of the conquering hero is not a genuine manifestation of the heroic archetype.  The heroic archetype as I have been defining it is (I think it is evident) something I hold in very high regard.

My disparagement of the conquering or egoic or ego-inflated hero is actually in complete accord with conventional Jungian thinking.  It was, I think, my initial concern that, despite this disparagement of the egoic and uninitiated hero in Jungian thinking (that Kafiri noted in his quotation of Beebe), there was still too much embrace of this egoic hero in the Jungian shadow.  My feeling is that there needs to be a better language for differentiating this ego-driven "hero" from the archetypal/instinctual hero.  With Beebe, Kafiri, the Jungians, and the Men's Movement there is good recognition that this egoic pseudo-hero is totally incompatible with individuation and initiation by the animi . . . and I agree with their attitude on this issue.

But I worry that the baby could be thrown out with the bathwater, because I see the heroic archetype (in its "true" and undiluted form) as something that is every present as the one and only mediating "mindset" or "attitude" between ego and Self.  Essentially, in my definition, the hero archetype (or heroic ego) is a representation of the ego's healthy relationship with the Self.  This kind of hero should not be "initiated away".  Rather, initiation brings one into closer accord with the heroic attitude.  Although it is bound for symbolic death and self-sacrifice, it is just as bound for resurrection.  To do the Work, we must be eternally heroic.  That is, we must, in order to listen to and honor and facilitate the Self, do so through the heroic attitude or heroic ego.  This heroic ego is surrendering and flexible, though, not rigid, transcendent, and conquering.

One aspect inherent (but not entirely conscious, I think) in the Jungian oriented groups of the Men's Movement is an over-valuation of the senex (which means the undervaluation of the puer).  I see this as a dissociation.  The puer-senex is really one thing psychologically speaking.  We do not start as puers and evolve into senexes (as is often implied in the mythopoetic Men's Movement).  The senex is a deacon of tribalism . . . and so would reject "heroism" as a "puer antic" and nuisance.  As Robert Bly has said, the puer lives on the vertical plane while the senex lives on the horizontal.  But the world of instinct is a spherical, three dimensional place.  Bly values the horizontal over the vertical, but I see this as dissociated, a valuation of one Opposite over its Other.  I am looking toward the Third Thing in this equation (and its three-dimensionality).

The archetype of the puer-senex coniunctio is the Fool.  The Fool is the prima materia or the evolving Stone of the Philosophers.  It begins in baseness, on the dung heap, but grows to encompass the hero and wise woman/man.  And therefor it is the Heroic Fool that can unite the Opposites of puer and senex.  In holding this attitude, I have a major gripe with conventional Jungian thinking, which polarizes puer and senex . . . thus, thrusting the puer into the shadow.  This gives us Jungians the tendency to wear the senex robes of wisdom and groundedness while leaping for every star.  We say, "No, no!  You didn't see me leap!  Obviously you are unconscious.  You are inflated.  You don't understand the Self, the unconscious, the anima!"  But we are, I feel, our own underminers.  Because we have not learned to effectively value the puer (and Fool), we have blinded ourselves, condemned ourselves to an Oedipal quest which we call "individuation".  But because we have made this fundamental mistake, we end up "marrying the Mother" and "murdering the Father".

Here, the Mother is the unconscious as represented by the anima, and the Father is something like biological instinctuality.  This Father is a Saturnine Will that isn't really complete without the Son.  So instinctual Will starts off as a kind of prima materia trapped in Matter (and in the maternal conception of the unconscious).  The Son is the heroic ego that redeems the Father by alchemically extracting his Will from Matter, from its imprisonment in unconsciousness and chaos . . . purifying it (with the Logos) . . . and re-infusing it into Matter (into instinct) so that this Matter/instinct is redeemed/animated/made adaptive.  In other words, the ego learns to become the instrument of the Self through a process of valuation and surrender . . . and that is the stuff of the Hero's Journey.

As Freud saw, Jung indeed had some of the Oedipal dynamic driving him . . . and I feel he never completely resolved it.  Our inheritance as Jungians is a maternalized portrayal of the unconscious or Self and a dissociation between the puer and senex poles of the ego.  A dissociation that means the hero is fractured.

That's my general take on the hero as it relates to Jungian thinking.

Now, at the same time, I do recognize that in Campbell's Hero's Journey, the elements are slanted in the direction of a masculine psychology.  I think one of the most important areas of continuing Jungian research has been the efforts to uncover what might be a complimentary "heroine's journey".  This has been a theme that I have pursued since I have undertaken a serious study of Jungian psychology.  What a better understanding of a feminine psychology will bring, i suspect, is a complimentary view of the Hero's Journey as the adventure of both the rescuer and the rescued, the prince and the princess.  The anima and the animus tales combine into the fuller picture that we, each of us, experience though I think we also preferentially identify with one or the other side.

This is a project whose valuation I share with you.  But it has been my experience thus far that the Heroine's Journey is very much the same as the Hero's, and that individuation has less to do with sexual identity than with ego-orientation to the Self.  As the alchemists envisioned, this is a movement toward a psychological "bisexualism".  The individuation process tends to portray the separation of Masculine and Feminine as a dissociation or illness.  In my opinion, the lack of understanding of "Feminine psychology" in Jungian thinking is a product of this dissociation and of the bias given to masculinity.  This bias seeks to associate consciousness and egoism with masculinity and unconsciousness with femininity.  I see this as rooted in patriarchal constructs of culture rather than in some biological or instinctual reality.

This fracture in Jungian thinking is just as much a product of the conventional Jungian conception of the anima (as object of worship) as it is a devaluation of the animus.  I see it as all one issue, two sides of the same coin.

Also, do not too quickly dismiss the whole for its parts...for example, all Christians have to come to terms with the following if they are conscious students of the Word:

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/But_to_bring_a_sword:

Jesus taught not to be a simple minion of authority but to stand up against even the desires of one's parents and family members and hear the truth that He was giving.  This is quite explicit here.

This is one of those key passages from the original Christian texts that is, I feel, essentially Gnostic . . . and therefore it is rejected and even tabooed in Catholicism.  What the Gnostic idea here is saying is that the Logos-as-Christ, the model of the ideal individuant, is a force that will differentiate the individual from his or her tribe.  Tribal affiliation must be sacrificed to follow the path of individuation and to find the Kingdom within.  This the Gnostics saw as the initiation into Christ, the baptism into the Holy Spirit . . . and those initiated were called Pneumatics.

But why then did the Catholics keep such a dangerous and contrary idea in their texts?  Because the original notion could be reworked to mean something entirely different (one of the problems with parables).  The Catholicization of the parable of the Logos sword holds that the greatest and most fundamental tribe is the tribe of the Church . . . and no bonds, no affiliations of any kind can supersede the affiliation to the Church.  It is a totalitarian appropriation of the original Gnostic idea.  This propaganda was especially "necessary" during the period of the early Church, because the Roman Empire was primarily pagan.  Even after Constantine, the forced conversion of the pagan population to Christianity was slow and bloody (i.e., there was much resistance).

So, used as Church propaganda, this "severing of ties" with family and older tribes was really a way of destroying tribal ties to paganism (and to a lesser degree, Judaism) and its diverse gods, rituals, and beliefs.  But these ties were meant to be reattached to the Tribe of Christ, whose sole institution on earth was the Church.  So instead of the tribal separation that the Gnostics envisioned, the Church made this a tribal purification.  One Tribe, one empire . . . the perfect totalitarian ideology.

Also, I am pretty sure that Wagner was an anti-Semite (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner#Controversies).  But are you dismissing the mythical value of the opera because of this abhorent fact?  I would understand a personal decision not to explore that work for that reason, but I would be careful about devaluing that work for that reason.

My hesitations with Wagner's version of the Sigfried myth can be represented by my comments above about the "percentage" of genuine instinctuality or archetypal foundation in his rendering.  The original story is very similar to Gilgamesh and is, I feel, a story of the conquering hero, the culture builder, the patriarchal, egoic superman . . . and not a true Hero's Journey myth.  But the original casts this as a tragedy (like Gilgamesh and Oedipus) where the hero's egoism finally leads to his early demise.  This demise is always due to the "Dark Feminine" either directly or indirectly.  That is, psychologically, this egoic hero was unable to see-through the darkness projected onto the Feminine, and it eventually became his downfall.  It is like the heel of Achilles, the fatal flaw.  The fatal flaw is always the undoing of the egoic hero . . . whereas for the true hero, the Foolish hero, the flaw is the gateway to transformation.

I don't know the Wagner version that well, but I had the feeling that the alterations he made to the original story of Sigurd cast the conquering hero in a more glamorous light . . . and showed his death as less a "comeuppance" than a betrayal by baser evils.  These edits encouraged the embrace of Wagner's epic by the Nazis whose ideology was the Cult of the Will.  The notion of such a cult is that egoic will triumphs over all base obstacles (like Others) by its "divine right".  Essentially, they are not getting the "moral of the story" of Sigurd . . . which is that the fatal flaw will ultimately destroy all striving that tries to transcend it.  The Cult of the Will is a patriarchal fantasy about "perpetual erection".  As long as you can "keep it up", you can conquer and be dominant and potent.  But this is not the way of nature.  The phallic ego cannot stay in the ascendant mode . . . nor should it, because such ascendancy always comes with the cost of externalities.  In order to keep it up, the ego must keep the shadow down.  But the libido that goes into repressing the shadow grants the unconscious shadow immense power over the ego.  And that tends to erupt in some kind of mania or purging of Otherness that can never be quenched since the projection emanates from within.

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In order for a child's ego to develop through adolescence, no conquering is necessary . . . and I would argue that any feeling of conquering is an illusion, perhaps even a delusion of inflation.

Your last sentence strikes me with a tone of sadness.  I can appreciate the equanimity behind it, but I think it is naive in the extreme.  We all have our fears and our hopes and our desires and I can't imagine those without also imagining a place for the experience of conquering, of attaining against the odds, of sacrificing something if needed to get that sense that "I have done it...I have accomplished this...I, myself!"  There must be some room for this without it being merely a "delusion of inflation".  We cannot all progress without stepping on each other's toes, having to abandon whether it will hurt someone else if we do this, setting aside some kind of good sense in order to risk something of value to get something we value more.  There just isn't human life without room for this selfish urge.

I would prefer to differentiate between striving and conquering.  I simply see no room in individuation or in the spiritual quest for conquering.  And in this attitude, I think I am in agreement with all the mysticisms and spiritual systems of human history.  The one overriding theme to spiritual pursuit is the surrender to the god.  And to think we can conquer this god is an inflation and a delusion.

But I don't see surrender to the god as a kind of ultimate sacrifice of will and libido.  Nor do I think we should overly-punish ourselves for our hubris and conquering fantasies.  The gods will do plenty of that for us.  There are many things that can be mastered in life . . . skills, philosophies, devotions.  But I think the true master of any of these things understands that mastery is not conquering.  It is not a domination of resistances, but a harnessing of natural libido, a being in harmony with instinctual or natural expression.  And that harmony or equilibrium always requires a sacrifice of the egoic desire to determine the thing to be learned.  Only as the minister of natural skill or attitude or inclination can we achieve "mastery".  All other kinds of mastery are delusional.

When I think of all of the things I've learned to do well or with greater than average accomplishment in my life (and there are not many), I can see that each achievement required relinquishment of egoic determination.  When I taught myself how to pitch and hit as a baseball player, I did not predetermine forms and insist that my skill as a pitcher and hitter be fitted to those forms or paradigms.  Instead I tried to follow what was natural motion, elegance, essential simplicity . . . and I constructed the paradigm for these forms based on what worked, what produced results.  And this meant I was always experimenting, trying different ways to see what "Nature preferred".  As a learning writer, my training was much more elaborate, but essentially followed the same pattern.  I had to discard rule after rule I was told to follow (by my teachers) until I reached a level of pure access to the instinctual unconscious, which I then allowed to determine the form and function of what I wrote.  I didn't say, "I am a sonnet writer and must write sonnets."  All of this "mastery" took a lot of seeing-through and a lot of surrender to an Other-guided process.

This is, I think, the common experience of learning a discipline . . . especially a complex or mental discipline.  As the alchemists might say, only Nature can work effectively against Nature.  But egoic will is never more than an obstacle to the acquisition of a discipline.  It is perfectly fine to want to master a discipline . . . but in order to actually master that discipline this desire must always be sacrificed to the Nature of the thing that is to be mastered.  And to speak in annoying alchemical doubletalk: only by being mastered can we master.  Perhaps a little too "koan-y", but this is the fundamental principle of spirituality, I think.

A child must conquer his or her fear of the night, of the boogeyman, of any number of manifestations of the unconscious.  A child must conquer his or her fear of rejection, of making a mistake, of looking like a fool, of being the focus of an embarrassing situation.

Such "conquering" can only be achieved by surrendering to the fear, dissolving into it, and recognizing that it doesn't actually have the power to destroy us that we projected into it.  We will never overcome the fear of rejection until we have been adequately rejected (and known rejection).  We will never overcome the fear of making mistakes until we have made so many mistakes that the fear has been depotentiated.  None of these things can be accomplished by egoic will and determination in some sort of abstract act of reasoning.  We must experience in order to learn . . . and without experience, we only deceive ourselves if we think we have accomplished anything.

No less so is it true in the psyche that conscious development requires repression, suppression even incipient neurosis, depression or anxiety than it is that life forms require the death of other life forms to survive.  It is a dirty, wicked game or you are not playing it.

I think consciousness (individuation) only requires such things as repression in order to experience them and recognize how they undermine consciousness.  Depression, anxiety, and neurosis are the symptoms of conflicts which are part of living and growing.  They are not "enemies" or opponents competing for our valued resources (although in the West we definitely tend to imagine them as such).  I'm not sure we can accurately draw a parallel between these things and the competition of species to survive.  We are not the predators of the unconscious.  It is not the Garden of Eden Cafe here to sustain us in all of our egoic appetites and indulgences.  The only thing "wicked" about individuation is that it always sets us against the Tribe and severs us from tribal Eros.  That is usually seen as wicked by the Tribe . . . and we often can't help but feel wicked in the grip of those projections.

My experience of the psyche and the Work is simply nothing like this.  What you seem to be prescribing are the attitudes that I have found to stall and obscure the Work.

So having said all this I hoped to strike a tone that I think should be in the repetoire of all serious students of the psyche.  Oftentimes it is a kill or get killed world "in there" and we have the right as ego-complexes, to consider the option of removing our inner enemies.  We just can't let the inner bullies to keep taking our libidic lunches away from us.

I have never met one of these inner enemies in my psyche.  The only opponent I've encountered has been my own egoic attitudes and resistances.  There is a lot of "blame the anima/animus/shadow/puer" talk in Jungian psychology, but these concepts are all foreign to me.  What reason would our instincts have to undermine our adaptivity?  We (as egos) are not ever the recipients of "libidic lunches", in my opinion.  When we think that the thing we feed is the ego, we are deluding ourselves.  The ego can't have its cake and eat it too.  The common idea behind egomania (that the ego is separate from and independent of the instinctual unconscious) is a fallacy, I think.  In its dissociation from instinct, the ego merely doesn't have consciousness of how its attitudes and desires are being determined.  But this unconsciousness tends to result in "infantile" behavior . . . so infantile as to often be radically maladaptive (in adults).

Also, I recognize that all of this is part of the very problematic knots that we each get tied up in.  It is as if in the rush of the necessity to get out of the womb and grow up and live in this world we, of necessity, create as many problems for ourselves as we solve in that achievement.  That is the heroic cycle.  Later we must move to uncover our inner despot and make him or her more civilized, more in relationship to the other inner characters.  For women I suspect that this is often reversed...too long has the young feminine ego learned to manage the greater connectivity of inner (and outer) individuals at the risk of the accumulation of libidic power for her ego.  While the stereotypical male ego might be described as all power and no civility, the stereotypical female ego can be seen as all civility no power.

And so the early animus experience is often of the invader or criminal coming in and blandishing a destructive (separative) power over the feminine ego and her world.  The animus, all power no discretion, is easily dismissed as an evil, disruptive male influence.  But the problem is that the feminine ego hasn't taken on the patriarchal role as separate individual and stood alone in passionate defiance of the innumerable, but reasonable, suppliable demands put upon her.  While young men are allowed to be selfish, young women are chastised for this.  And so men grow up to be "pigs" who take, take, take while women become "bitches" because they dare to complain and without what they could just give.  Obviously these are extremes and stereotypes.  But my favorite place, sometimes, to look for the truth is in the banal.

So I say, let's learn to get along and then break out your hockey sticks and let's RUMBLE!!!

I just don't see any good coming from this polarization of "psychosexuality".  The paradigm of Opposites you are applying here sounds like a step backward to me.  In contemporary, modern society, the Opposites have moved closer together and begun influencing and transforming one another.  There is still far to go, but the movement so far has been progressive.  To break out the hockey sticks would be like a retreat back to the original positions (19th century? earlier?).  We, individually, all have a greater or lesser degree of dissociation in the Feminine/Masculine dynamic, but I think the answer to this conflict is always found in the movement toward integration and synthesis (coniunctio).  That is, I feel that there is no fundamental dualism here.  The appearance of dualism is, in my opinion, non-essential.  It is the product of dissociation of something that is fundamentally one.

I agree that an act of differentiation is the beginning of the process of consciousness.  But this kind of differentiation is more a learning to recognize that any extreme position necessitates its Opposite.  Valuation starts to flow to the nether pole where the Other resides.  But that valuation is a kind of gravity that pulls both polarities toward a union in the middle.  So we differentiate and recognize the inevitability of Opposites, but next we must see-through the illusion of Opposites to their synthesis.

To even claim to be, to exist is a great inflation!  Who are we to say we have a divine soul, that we have the right to live in this universe so much grander, more powerful and more important than any or all of us?  Part of the human condition is hubris and I will accept and even enjoy it even as I guard against it.  There I go being mystical again...

We certainly belong in the universe as much as anything else does, but the notion that this is our "right" is, I feel, essentially a fallacy (although, a fallacy that expresses what is fundamentally an instinctual libido in totemic form).  That is, it is a projection of libido into a concretized belief.  As far as our desire to say we have divine souls, yes, I definitely see this as hubris.  Of course, as an atheist, I don't adhere to this belief.  Although I think it is the hubris of it even more so than the irrationality that "offends" me.  So I would say that to exist is not an inflation, but to claim that our existence is extraordinary or blessed or governed by divine right is most certainly an inflation.  It isn't one seen-through very often . . . even among atheists who reject this concept in word, there is a tendency to see humanness as a state of entitlement.

I think hubris is an obstacle to both contentment and to gnosis . . . but it isn't as much a sin as many make it out to be.  At its root, this hubris is an expression of our biological libido . . . and hubristic beliefs shared among humans (like the ensoulment and divine right stuff) are expressions of tribal Eros.  That is, our beliefs of blessing and entitlement allow us to better bond together to express communal libido and survive and flourish.  The more we believe in our right to be and even to "conquer", the more libido we will invest in our tribe's success.  But in the modern world, all these expressions of tribal entitlement become counterproductive, even as survival drives.  Our survival success and adaptability now are more a matter of learning how to effectively cooperate despite our tribal differences.  The ability to see-through these differences is one of the quintessential products of individuating consciousness.

And at some point, ultimate sustainability will, I believe, require a reevaluation of our sense of speciesistic (as well as tribal) entitlement and divine right.  At its base, this entitlement is the advocacy of the conquering of Nature.  But today we face the limitation and backfiring of our conquering and devaluation of nature and matter.  If we do not learn how to better live within Nature and its ecosystems, we increasingly run the risk of destroying that which has been sustaining us (in our unconsciousness).  Even the "supreme and divine" godlings of the Earth are ultimately dependent on the very thing they have so long felt entitled to take, use, and abuse with impunity.  I see in this encroaching predicament the confrontation of humanity with its own religiosity and spiritualistic hubris.

Perhaps humans are like gods in the power they wield.  But if we can't learn to carry the conscious responsibility of gods as well as lay claim to their power, we will continue to rush headlong to our "just" self-destruction.




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

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Kafiri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2008, 09:50:57 AM »
Quote from: Matt Koeske

The problem here is that there is a difference between true individualism (or individuation) and tribalism.  Lifestyle marketing still conforms more than it promotes individualism (and by a huge margin).


Matt,
At the risk of appearing to "nit pick" I think we need to be clear about certain terms when we use them.  Here is what Jung says about "individualism" as opposed to "individuation":
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. . .Egoists are called 'selfish,' but this, naturally, has nothing to do with the concept of 'self' as I am using it here.  On the other hand, self-realization seems to stand in opposition to self-alienation.  This misunderstanding is quite general, because we do not distinguish between individualism and individuation.  Individualism means deliberately stressing and giving prominence to some supposed peculiarity rather than to collective considerations and obligations.  But individuation means precisely the better and more complete fulfilment of the collective qualities of the human being, since adequate consideration of the peculiarity of the individual is more conductive to a better social performance that when the peculiarity is neglected or suppressed.  The idiosyncrasy of the individual is not to be understood as any strangeness in his substance or in his components, but rather as a unique combination, or gradual differentiation, of functions and faculties which in themselves are universal.  Every human face has a nose, two eyes, etc., but these universal factors are variable,  and it is this variability which makes individual peculiarities possible.  Individuation, therefore, can only mean a process of psychological development that fulfils the individual qualities given; in other words, it is a process by which a man becomes the definite, unique being he in fact is.  In so doing he does not become 'selfish' in the ordinary sense of the the word, but is merely fulfilling the peculiarity of his nature, and this, as we have said, is vastly different from egotism or individualism.
C. G. Jung, Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious, in the Portable Jung, pp. 122-123.

So Matt, IMO we need to very careful about the terms we use.  It very easy for  "individualism" to be mistaken for "indivuation" on certain forums that hold themselves out to be Jungian.  One can observe from the comments of people that their ego has adopted a "peculiar" position on a given subject, for example, the Tarot.  They then delude themselves that this "peculiarity" is evidence of individuation, when in fact, it is evidence of an ego driven individualism.  And to keep uniformity across Jungian learning and understanding we should bear the difference between the two terms, as Jung defined them, in mind.  A minor point I admit, but one I think we should be aware of.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2008, 12:46:23 PM by Kafiri »
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Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2008, 11:56:56 AM »
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So Matt, IMO we need to very careful about the terms we use.  It very easy for  "individualism" mistaken for "indivuation" on certain forums that hold themselves out to be Jungian.  One can observe from the comments of people that their ego has adopted a "peculiar" position on a given subject, for example, the Tarot.  They then delude themselves that this "peculiarity" is evidence of individuation, when in fact, it is evidence of, of an ego driven individualism.  And to keep uniformity across Jungian learning and understanding we should bear the difference between the two terms, as Jung defined them, in mind.  A minor point I admit, but one I think we should be aware of.

And maybe to clarify my view, the so-called masculine line of conscious development which is aligned with the majority of today's masculine oriented collectives is to establish the ego as a separate system from the rest of the psyche.  The feminine line of development is to maintain connectivity with the whole psyche.  Both lines of development are occurring but the ego aligns preferentially with one or the other and projects onto the animi the other developmental line.  One aspect of development is this separation of the ego from the unconscious and another is the coming into awareness of the deep connectivity of the ego with the unconscious. 

Today's modern Western culture emphasizes the masculine, separative and so we have produced a culture of alienation from the unconscious, the "secondary personalization" (Neumann) of the contents of the psyche makes the transpersonal disappear behind the personal, particular and arbitrary because consciousness has rested the libido away from the unconscious to an extent that the unconscious no longer significantly manipulates the consciousness within the greater part of the ego's domain.  So the problem of a well-adjusted modern Westerner is to reconnect to the transpersonal and help to dissolve the meaninglessness of the pervasive alienation from the transpersonal.  This requires finding and exploring the hidden affective elements of psyche and allowing them to undo the separative bias of the masculinated ego.

The hero's journey isn't really so much about the separative development of consciousness as it is about the life-death-life cycle of conscious development.  However, I think that the monomyth, as such, is more about the development of the ego as a separate element from the psyche and tends to show ego victories over other inner personalities.  The benchmark for successful ego development in this light is simultaneously the instinctual world and the collective world through which one must negotiate.  But for those of us who are looking beyond the collective's obvious solutions to life, we need to dig deeper.  This is where I think that the alchemical, individuation motifs come to the fore.  Now that we have our ego-consciousness as a separate container or alchemical workshop where mind and matter are two different things (a necessary pre-requisite) now we can do the work of re-uniting, re-valuating what was lost in the first phase of development.

So I see selfish = ego separated and valuation centered in one's separate identity.  Self is, of course, reconnection with the transpersonal such that one's particular "configuration" of personality is shown to be unique and yet, at the same time, "merely" a re-expression of the objective, universal themes that run through all mythic-spiritual knowledge.

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2008, 02:02:46 PM »
Quote from: Matt Koeske

The problem here is that there is a difference between true individualism (or individuation) and tribalism.  Lifestyle marketing still conforms more than it promotes individualism (and by a huge margin).


Matt,
At the risk of appearing to "nit pick" I think we need to be clear about certain terms when we use them.  Here is what Jung says about "individualism" as opposed to "individuation" . . .

Good point, Kafiri.  I wasn't using the term "individualism" the way Jung did.  Sloppy writing on my part.  Obviously, the individualism that lifestyle marketing promotes has nothing whatsoever to do with individuation.  Lifestyle marketing is based on tribal identity or affiliation, which is sold to us as products indicative of our "individuality" (ironically).  But a "true individual" (one who is individuated) is not defined by tribal affiliations (and wouldn't make a very functional demographic to target for marketing).

So Matt, IMO we need to very careful about the terms we use.  It very easy for  "individualism" to be mistaken for "indivuation" on certain forums that hold themselves out to be Jungian.  One can observe from the comments of people that their ego has adopted a "peculiar" position on a given subject, for example, the Tarot.  They then delude themselves that this "peculiarity" is evidence of individuation, when in fact, it is evidence of an ego driven individualism.  And to keep uniformity across Jungian learning and understanding we should bear the difference between the two terms, as Jung defined them, in mind.  A minor point I admit, but one I think we should be aware of.

Agreed, but I am inclined to question the semantics of this Jungian usage in the same way I questioned the Jungian definition of "hero".  It is important to make the differentiation that Jung did, but to call the state of being that is differentiated from individuation, "individualism", is actually a misnomer.  It would be more accurate to refer to this as "pseudo-individualism" because this individualism only pretends or deludes itself into belief in the illusion of its individuality.  Really, such "individualism" is defining itself by its tribal affiliations, its "lifestyle clique or family".  This is precisely why I prefer to call it "tribalism".  "Tribalism" is a more accurate term for this state of being or attitude than "individualism" is.

The problem you mention with many Jungians (in the online, New Age, and professional communities) is that, instead of individuating and defining themselves as something apart from their tribal affiliations, they frequently choose to define themselves as "of the Tribe of Jung".  In this tribe, Jungian language is spoken, Jungian taboos are obeyed, and Jungian gods are worshiped as totems . . . but there is no individuation unless one is able to see-through his or her affiliations with the Tribe of Jung.  Jung, of course, was completely aware of this problem, as is evidenced in his famous quip: "I'm glad I'm Jung and not a Jungian".

And even though I've heard many members of the Tribe of Jung chant this mantra they do not see-through their own tribal affiliations.  For them, individuation remains a tribal totem.  As we have seen on other sites, many will take the posture of individuated attitudes but appear (to anyone who has done a decent amount of Work) to be frauds or hypocrites or at least very naive.  This is easily detectable by anyone who follows the Work, because one can see that the "individuation postures" effected do not actually resemble the true individuated/individuating state.  Instead, these postures totemize individuation as if it was some kind of wisdom or attainment or enlightenment (even if these words are not used).  The true individuant is not filled with wise postures and knowing nods, but with dangerous questions and genuine vulnerability.

What I see in the online Jungians (and many of the professional analysts, as well) is the donning of the costume of individuation.  This is why the senex is so highly respected in Jungian circles.  It is imagined as the Wise Old Man/Woman, an attainment of peace and wisdom and professorial koan-spewing.  But the Jungians have chosen their individuation costume poorly.  The individuant is not at peace when the world around her is not at peace (as peacefulness is a product or relationship to environment or equilibrium, not "attainment").  The individuant knows that attainment is an illusion and that even the greatest states of enlightenment can be see-through and recognized as less transformations or transcendences than valuations of Otherness . . . in which the valuator, the individuant, remains relatively unchanged (except in attitude and orientation).  We can make and honor gods, but we cannot become gods.  The individuant realizes that any of these "achievements" in the Work do not make the demons and flaws in the personality vanish, but rather keep these shadow animals fed, protected, and well-groomed in the attempt to live in harmony with them.  Perfection is discarded for wholeness (as the Jungian dogma itself states).  And instead of becoming a koan vending machine and pretending that complex situations and concepts can be simplified to an enigmatic phrase or aphorism, the individuant faces complexity, darkness, and challenge with a combination of humility (an openness to learning new things from even the most unlikely sources) and dangerous questions.  The individuant knows how to accept a master or teacher wherever one appears, even within the not-individuated . . . but also how to use a sword and cut away the crap.

There are certainly Jungians who are individuants and understand these things . . . but far more Jungians do not.  And these who don't have constructed the Tribe of Jung and formed it into its current shape.

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

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2008, 01:39:22 PM »

And maybe to clarify my view, the so-called masculine line of conscious development which is aligned with the majority of today's masculine oriented collectives is to establish the ego as a separate system from the rest of the psyche.  The feminine line of development is to maintain connectivity with the whole psyche.

The problem I have with this, Chris, is that I don't see women being or striving to be any more connected to their instinctual unconscious than men.  I merely see two different preferred languages in which to practice "separation" (more accurately, dissociation).  And even these languages (in contemporary society) are not very differentiated.  That's why I don't like the Masculine/Feminine dichotomy of psyche that many Jungians are partial to.

Both lines of development are occurring but the ego aligns preferentially with one or the other and projects onto the animi the other developmental line.  One aspect of development is this separation of the ego from the unconscious and another is the coming into awareness of the deep connectivity of the ego with the unconscious.

And so not surprisingly, I see encouragement of "deep connectivity with the unconscious" as simply a general animi property . . . not something specific to anima or animus.  The modern condition is egoic dissociation and alienation from the instinctual unconscious . . . and the animi are psychic figures of valuation for the reattachment of ego to instinctual unconscious.

Today's modern Western culture emphasizes the masculine, separative and so we have produced a culture of alienation from the unconscious, the "secondary personalization" (Neumann) of the contents of the psyche makes the transpersonal disappear behind the personal, particular and arbitrary because consciousness has rested the libido away from the unconscious to an extent that the unconscious no longer significantly manipulates the consciousness within the greater part of the ego's domain.  So the problem of a well-adjusted modern Westerner is to reconnect to the transpersonal and help to dissolve the meaninglessness of the pervasive alienation from the transpersonal.  This requires finding and exploring the hidden affective elements of psyche and allowing them to undo the separative bias of the masculinated ego.

I agree that this "separative"/dissociated condition seems "Masculine" in character . . . in the sense that it is an artifact of patriarchy.  But I am not sure that patriarchy is really a good representation of what is archetypally "Masculine".  I see patriarchy as a dissociation of Masculinity based in the fear of the Other (a category that includes the Feminine for men).  It is an egomania, a conquering attitude, but it is not an attitude that is in any way productive in the individuation process.  It does not bring consciousness of or differentiation in the unconscious.  Instead it upholds the supremacy of a particular ego-position that is characterized by inflation, entitlement, and devaluation of Otherness.  It is enabled by the provident, protective Mother, which it sees as a resource with which to express its (the patriarchal ego's) power.  But just as this enabling fuels its power grab, so does it create a dependency that threatens to "pull the plug".  So sometimes the Mother is usurped and other times she is feared.

This patriarchal attitude is undisciplined, uninitiated.  It fears its own potential impotence, and so essentially over-compensates by emphasizing potency and transcendence.  What I think we are seeing here is the death of an initiation into a more holistic manhood.  Patriarchy is man in love with his own might . . . which means he is terrified of his own weakness and vulnerability.  But I think this dissociation represents a wedge between the Masculine and the Feminine.  And I think this dissociation is more complex than "something that men did to women".  "Men" are not capable of this Fall just because they are men.  Masculinity doesn't really have anything to do with it.  A change this drastic has to be caused by something much larger.

The candidate I would like to nominate for this role is Environmental Catastrophe.  This particular one was different than other natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, plagues, ice ages, and meteors.  I think it was population expansion . . . probably as the result of advances in agriculture (see Keri, I got me a knuckleball, too!  (-)485(-) (-)nnchks(-)).  I'm not ready to "blame the agricultural revolution" just yet, though.  I see this as an inevitability . . . not a sin.  The SIN came as an eventual reaction to the inevitability.

Agriculture increases wealth.  Increased wealth and increased population density eventually results in industry and the hierarchical division of labor . . . something that wasn't really necessary on this level in a tribal society.  This new wealth needs to be protected . . . and that means increase in the sense of ownership, development of the military, and more law-making.  "Tribal law" or morality is no longer intuitive.  At this point in history, the legislation of ownership, social boundaries, classes, and occupations both differentiated/divided people in a society and forced them to live and work closer together.  Instead of space between kinship groups, the new walls were abstract laws, prejudices, and hierarchies.

And the system was self-perpetuating.  More industry meant more jobs and more wealth . . . which in turn meant more military and more law-enforcement.  The larger these societies grew, the more the rulers of them must have been awed by their achievements, their power.  The more such power became the object of worship, the more gods, totems, and religions were constructed around it.  We can witness some of this in historical texts as the dethroning of the old Goddess religions.  One of the key factors of the transformation from Goddess religions to patriarchal warrior-king religions was the gradual depotentiation of not so much the Goddesses but the Goddess's consorts . . . who were typically the dying and rising gods.  The patriarchal state religions started to favor transcendent, always rising (perpetually erect) gods, solar deities, sky gods.  The dying and rising gods of old were relegated to smaller cults, which were probably able to function much more like conventional tribes.  For instance, the Mystery religions were initiation cults, preserving what was perhaps the most important artifact of primitive tribalism, passage into a sense of responsibility for one's actions in the collective or in the world.  Part of that responsibility was the maintenance of the Mystery god or goddess.  The initiate is responsible for bringing the god into the world . . . that is, for bringing instinct into culture.

All this is of course a massive over-simplification, but I think it (which we know to be generally true from historical and prehistorical records and artifacts) could account for the birth of patriarchy and the institution of dissociation between the ego and the instinctual unconscious.  Triumphs of the ego were often celebrated in the tales of conquering heroes (as previously mentioned).  The oldest surviving written text, the Epic of Gilgamesh, describes all of this proposed model very accurately (which is partly because I am using it as a source for the paradigm being proposed).

The goal of Gilgamesh, the prototypical patriarch, is to achieve worldly power and then immortality.  Immortality is a kind of perpetual erection of the ego.  First he bests his instinctual self (not Self) as represented by Enkidu.  Enkidu is like Gilgamesh's "relational body" and libido.  He is originally sent to defeat (or at least distract) Gilgamesh, because Gilgamesh has been usurping the brides of his people, insisting that he have sex with them before their husbands do.  In doing this, he is less a king than a thief.  His crazed appetite is self-consuming, self-destructive.  Appetite is (to the patriarchal ego) what stands between will and true power.  Appetite suppression or self-control is the great weapon of the patriarch.

Enkidu is originally animalistic and untamed (uncultured).  Gilgamesh's defeat of Enkidu in the wrestling match is like the egoic will's defeat of its own childish chaos and fear and undermining desire.  It is like a rather brutal "seeing-through" of our primitivistic animism.  We recognize that the spirits are not really in the trees and rocks and rivers . . . and all of a sudden, we feel a rush of power, as if those spirits have been channeled into the ego.  That's inflation, of course . . . but it is common even today, when we see-through someone else's fiction, to feel as if we have power over them ("mana").  Enkidu is like tribal man, and Gilgamesh sees-through Enkidu's dependence on nature and projection and therefore overpowers him.

But perhaps I shouldn't use "seeing-through" in this context.  It is not the same thing as seeing-through Maya and tribal affiliation.  Inspirited Matter is not so much penetrated by the patriarchal, conquering ego as it is devalued.  To truly see-through something (in the more Hillmanian sense I've been using it lately), is to differentiate its value from its disguise or superficial fiction.  The patriarchal ego (which is the roots of positivistic rationalism) does not understand that the value, the instinctual Will behind our animistic projections is essential . . . on a biological as well as psychological level, to our living.  This conquering ego merely empties the vessel of all its contents . . . just as American hunters in the Old West used to shoot bison from passing trains without even stopping to collect and utilize the carcasses.  By contrast, the Native Americans not only used as much of the bison killed as possible for food and tools and such, they recognized that in this usage, some kind of respect should be paid to Nature.  And they generally only took what they needed to survive.  The patriarchal ego just takes because it can, because the thrill of taking is a power rush.

The problem we face today after millennia of unchecked patriarchal taking like this is a drastically devalued world  . . . and nowhere for us to commune with and derive guidance from our instincts.

When Gilgamesh defeats and befriends Enkidu, he manages to still retain a sense of valuation for his friend and his instinctual drives.  Enkidu grounds him somewhat (because of this residual valuation), allowing Gilgamesh to develop more honor and discipline (allowing his instinctual drives to become more directed into achievement).  We could say that this is a kind of inner "self-mastery" for Gilgamesh, in which he realizes (like Freud's anal-retentive infant) that the conscious restriction and regulation of drives gives the ego a sense of power and control . . . which it then seeks to exercise and expand into the outer world.  But Gilgamesh retains the understanding that his instinctual drives are his lifeline.  He merely finds a way to temporarily redirect them into the goals his egoic will has set for him.  But, of course, this is a kind of destructive complex.  Following these goals will inevitably rob him of his relationship to his instincts.  His conquering mania is gradually devaluing the world around him and his sense of self in that world.  Gilgamesh is living on borrowed time, and he can only squander instinctual relationality and drain value from Matter and Self for so long before his soul is lost.

For the patriarchal ego, this model of "self-mastery" is the "archetype" of mastery over all Nature and oppositional will.

But we should recall that the most celebrated aspect of the city of Uruk, Gilgamesh's kingdom, is its walls.  These great walls were the symbol of its autonomy (from Nature) and power.  It is the perfect metaphor for the dissociated, inflated ego.  And it reminds me of one of the great Romantic poems about the fallacy of the patriarchal ego, Shelly's "Ozymandias".

Quote
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The first two acts of Gilgamesh after he has conquered and "befriended" Enkidu are the murder of Humbaba, guardian of the Cedar Forest, and the rejection of Ishtar, the Great Goddess.  Humbaba represents the power of Nature over humanity . . . and he is conquered through the human invention of industry.  The lumber industry was likely the first industry of Sumer and Babylonia.  Not only did these great trees have to be chopped down, they had to be carried (or floated) great distances to the cities of the state.  This took not only ingenuity but immense, perhaps even maniacal, will to achieve.

Gilgamesh's rejection of Ishtar is explained as his feeling that the consorts of Ishtar ended up in bad shape (dead, often enough).  He calls her a whore (and we might think of the temple priestesses or sacred prostitutes that conducted the worship of Ishtar).  Her consorts were, of course, the dying gods (like Tammuz).  Gilgamesh did not want anything to do with this death business.  He wanted to live forever.  But of course, his slighting of Ishtar had repercussions, and the great Bull of Heaven was sent down with her rage to kill Gilgamesh.

But Gilgamesh "saw-through" or drained value from this Bull, understanding (we might say) that it only drew its power from projection or animism.  He and Enkidu slay it, but in doing so, Enkidu is sacrificed (as the gods decide that Gilgamesh's arrogance must be punished) . . . and finally Gilgamesh understands what it means to lose his soul.  He undergoes the night-sea journey to find the secret of immortality . . . but ultimately fails.  The plant that would bestow immortality is eaten by a water serpent . . . which is like the chthonic shadow of ego-inflated Gilgamesh.  The serpent learns to shed its skin, but it lives underwater, in the deep, instinctual unconscious . . . far away from the reach of Gilgamesh.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is ultimately a tragedy, because the thing Gilgamesh really wanted most, his relationship with Enkidu, was lost to his egoic ambition (his unwillingness to die/submerge/be humbled/dissolve in instinct).  And as he has parted ways with both the anima Goddess and his relationship to the instinctual (through Enkidu), he no longer has any access to spiritual rebirth (which was always the privilege of the dying and rising god and consort of the Goddess).  The ability to be reborn falls into the shadow as the serpent (another symbol of the Goddess).  Gilgamesh, as symbol of the patriarchal ego, has seen-through the bonds of some of the ego's dependence on animism or projection into matter . . . but he has made the mistake of devaluing that matter.  This value is the stuff of "soul".  He has not achieved a harmonious relationship with the environment, precisely because he has misunderstood seeing-through as conquering . . . and not understood that taking up this attitude has only enabled him to conquer/castrate himself and what was most precious to him.

In the end, he has accomplished nothing through his conquering attitude.  All he has achieved is the feeling that such conquering always leads to loss.  Like the great fortress walls of Uruk, Gilgamesh has seen-through the investment of Nature or matter with power over humanity . . . but only in a way that makes him aware of his own isolation from value.


In this myth, we need to recognize that no one wins, culture is not saved or restored.  "Woman" does not fair any better than "Man".  Woman does not carry on the pre-dissociation traditions of communion between Masculine and Feminine.  The chthonic serpent has swallowed the key to rebirth.  One of the common fantasies of patriarchal man is that woman is the residual storehouse of instinctuality and Nature . . . and through her, he can be restored.  But this is a projection (as any woman who has borne this projection can tell you).  It is not Woman per se that holds the key to restoration of instinctuality, it's relationality.  Women are merely the outward symbol of relationality for most men.  But this relationality is not really "reunion with Woman or with the Feminine".  It is the ability to invest value in Otherness, in Others and in things/matter.  The investment of value requires inner wealth, the feeling that we can give these things away without being diminished by the giving.  Value is not property.  The patriarchal mentality doesn't understand this.  It so fears its own impoverishment, that it is always obsessed with taking, owning, possessing.  That is, it sees/projects the lost value or soul into these objects and tries to enrich itself through conquering and pillaging.  But this can never satisfy because the wealth is not really in these things.  It is lost in the shadows of the unconscious.  This is the key thing that the patriarchal ego does not see-through at all.  It cannot save or restore its soul with acquisition from sources (and resources) outside itself.  Soul is not "out there" to be found, claimed, and seized.  Soul is made, gestated within.

In our tribal state, we enriched, valuated, or ensouled our world via animistic projection . . . and as a result, matter was alive and inspirited.  We could relate to our instincts through our relation to Matter and Nature.  But the conquering of Nature left us with nowhere to find soul, relationality, instinct.

I think this parallels what you have been calling the ego-split . . . although I see the psychological nature of this more clearly in the Gilgamesh story than in a "separation from the World Parents" . . . because such a split/dissociation does not actually separate one from the parental at all.  We remain childlike in such a dissociation, because we are still dependent on the providence of our devalued resources.  For example, in the Gilgamesh epic, there is the Cedar Forest and Uruk's lumber industry to harness it.  For us today, there is oil.  In the early days of America, it was slavery.  We have shortsightedly seen these "resources" as superabundant . . . but they are non-renewable and/or cannot be sustained without "externalities" and destruction.  We take, but we don't give back . . . because we feel that what we take is not innately valuated.  That is, we are entitled to it with no strings attached, no repercussions.  It is ownable, possessable .  We don't need to sustain and protect it; it is provided for us . . . and our own "worth" is measured by how much we can possess, own, and take.  Not by how much we can give, sustain, replenish, protect.  Mother Nature is the provider . . . and we are the ever-suckling infant.

This is the patriarchal attitude: non-self-sustaining, irresponsible, usurping, arrogantly entitled.  It is an infantile, selfish attitude, not the attitude of an initiated adult who has comprehended the value of sustaining the group and the environment.  The modern individual is disenfranchised from the immense state.  S/he doesn't feel s/he has the ability to help sustain the group or direct/heal/preserve society.  As a result, we don't know what to do with our sociality instinct.  We lose Eros, empathy, relatedness.  Our egos are not initiated into this Eros and sense of responsibility for the group . . . and so they remain childlike and selfish.  Modern society has learned how to translate this selfishness into an economy . . . which can provide and provide.  Until the resources run out.  And then it turns in on itself cannibalistically.

All we need to do to glimpse this destructive process is look at our current government's ideology regarding "social welfare".  The deregulation and social welfare dismantling ("privatization") championed by the current regime is insanely selfish and dissociated.  There is no sense of responsibility for others at all . . . and no awareness that such social responsibility is not only an "ethical obligation" but also necessary for a self-sustaining system to survive.  Those who have, deserve . . . and those who don't have do not deserve.  Possession and greed are justice in themselves.  Because our worth is seen as only what we can own.  We have maniacally chiseled away at the "resources" and "lower rungs" of our ecological, economic, and social ladders, funneling everything we can into the empowered ego and the "power elite".  But there is no long-term thinking behind this . . . only infantile greed and appetite gratification.

Tribal societies did not function this way . . . and human sociality instinct does not function this way.  But the modern is an environmental disaster, a situation that demands we either find a way to adapt (mutate?) or else we die out.  We feel a great pull (in the face of the modern) toward tribalism, but despite the instinctual drive behind this, the "return to tribalism" (from modernism) is not really very well thought out.  Instead, our drive for tribalism allows us to be turned into resources for empowered egoism . . . because it is not being interacted with consciously.  We can't just gravitate unconsciously to our favored tribes . . . we have to create an inter-tribal ecosystem that is self-sustaining of the whole Multitribe.

But the creation of complex systems has never been within the ego's grasp.  Complex systems baffle and mystify us.  Only Nature has succeeded in creating complexity like this.  I don't know if we will be able to manage this at all . . . but if there is any chance of success, it will only come through a reliance (but not dependency) on our own instinctual nature's.  I.e., consciousness harnessed to instinctuality rather than dissociated from it.  Is this possible collectively . . . and if it is, could it make the difference?  I have no idea . . . nor any idea how something like this could be achieved even if it were possible.


The hero's journey isn't really so much about the separative development of consciousness as it is about the life-death-life cycle of conscious development.  However, I think that the monomyth, as such, is more about the development of the ego as a separate element from the psyche and tends to show ego victories over other inner personalities.

But in the conquering/egoic hero stories, the final result is always tragedy, failure, madness, self-destruction, loss of value, dissociation . . . and in the hero stories where the mode of heroism is not conquering, but surrender (such as in most fairytales and in spiritual hero myths), consciousness is not separating so much as uniting.  I just don't see the textual examples needed to support your interpretation.

The benchmark for successful ego development in this light is simultaneously the instinctual world and the collective world through which one must negotiate.  But for those of us who are looking beyond the collective's obvious solutions to life, we need to dig deeper.  This is where I think that the alchemical, individuation motifs come to the fore.  Now that we have our ego-consciousness as a separate container or alchemical workshop where mind and matter are two different things (a necessary pre-requisite) now we can do the work of re-uniting, re-valuating what was lost in the first phase of development.

OK.  But in the alchemical allegories, the initial separation of spirit from matter is accomplished through surrender and dissolution.  The ego's will is harnessed to the Will of the Self.  And the spirit extracted from Matter is exalted and considered the thing of greatest worth, the Philosopher's Stone . . . which is the "perfected" or restored/revaluated prima materia.  Alchemy shows a process of extracting valuated spirit . . . whereas as with the conquering, Gilgameshian attitude I gave as an example above, Matter is superficially conquered and spirit is lost/devalued.  Never in the alchemical work is Matter or any other element devalued.  Even the basest things are raised up, praised, and imbued with value.

The alchemists were very specific about the idea that "only Nature can master Nature" . . . not human/egoic will.  They constantly warn that those who do not rely on Nature to drive the Work are bound to fail.

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

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]