The mystics find in their heart the image of the sun

Saint Augustin by Philippe de Champaigne--1645-1650. US public domain via wikicommons.
Saint Augustin by Philippe de Champaigne–1645-1650. US public domain via wikicommons.
In the second section of Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung is taking us into the life of the mystic: a path of soul and of divine heart. Jung speaks of “the teachings of the mystics,” he says:

“when they [the mystics] descend into the depths of their own being they find ‘in their heart’ the image of the sun, they find their own life-force which they call the ‘sun’ for a legitimate and, I would say, a physical reason because our source of energy and life actually is the sun. Our physiological life, regarded as an energy process, is entirely solar” (para. 176).

Continue reading “The mystics find in their heart the image of the sun”

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The Gift of Love

Gentile Da Fabriano- The Annunciation- circa 1425, currently at held at the Pinacoteca Vaticana, via wikimedia US public domain.
Gentile Da Fabriano- The Annunciation- circa 1425, currently at held at the Pinacoteca Vaticana, via wikimedia US public domain.

Life energy moves through all living things. A seed sprouts, growing and becoming a tree, blossoming and bearing fruit. As long as the tree is healthy and without disease its life energy will follow a path. This is not a scientific declaration, but a poetic one: energy creates transformations in form.

In human terms, we call this energy ‘libido.’ The potential transformations of our energy are shaped by ‘libidinal’ desire: our instincts animate us, drive us. Our desire moves us to seek an object; in pure form libido moves us to seek out an other, not as object but subject.

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Heaven above, Heaven below: what the soul foretells

Pure Soul, Russian icon- 18th century
Pure Soul, Russian icon- 18th century. US Public Domain via wikimedia

“Everything psychic has a lower and a higher meaning, as in the profound saying of late classical mysticism: ‘Heaven above, Heaven below, stars above, stars below, all that is above also is below, know this and rejoice.’ Here we lay our finger on the secret symbolical significance of everything psychic.” (CW 5, para 77)

In the above passage, Jung is referencing a mystical text titled the Oedipus Aegyptiacus. Jung  borrows from this text to express the tension of opposites within psyche life. The psyche has an urge, aim, a desire: part an expression of base instinct and part spiritual instinct. Fantasy holds the potential to express both of these instinctual urges.

Jung explains his point of view: the [Freudian] “sexual problem” is “only one half of the meaning, and the lower half at that. The other half is ideal creation as a substitute for real creation.” (CW 5, para 77) Here, Jung recognizes the spiritual instincts of the soul. Such instincts modify base instinctual urges into the spiritual through the creation of spiritual symbols and ‘ideals.’ Through spiritual symbols the soul expresses a capacity to dialectically integrate the tension of opposites within the Self.

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Religion and the Unsayable

“This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.” -Søren Kierkegaard

Carl Jung understood that there are two aspects of the psyche: the conscious and unconscious. Conscious reality is affirmed through our capacity to speak about it. Unconscious reality is negated: it is that which the ego cannot assimilate or represent.

Human beings use conscious awareness to make sense of and represent the world around them. Conscious awareness is expressed through language. Most of us take language for granted. We use language to express our desires, feelings, thoughts. We use it to navigate our world and get what we want, focusing only on what we know and can name and speak.

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Christ’s Androgyny: image of the Self

Consegna della legge (dettaglio cristo imberbe), santa costanza roma IV secolo. US public domain via wikimedia
Consegna della legge (dettaglio cristo imberbe), santa costanza roma IV secolo. US public domain via wikimedia

Christ is an image of the Self. When images of the Self take on anthropomorphic form, we often find androgynous characteristics.

The androgyny appears from time to time throughout history, taking various forms. Images show up in art, myths, alchemy, as well as in our dreams and imagination, as an archetypal symbol of integration of opposites. Continue reading “Christ’s Androgyny: image of the Self”