Lakshmi: mother archetype as fruitfulness

Lakshmi by Raja Ravi Varma, painted between 1848 and 1906. US Public Domain via wikimedia.
Lakshmi by Raja Ravi Varma, painted between 1848 and 1906. US Public Domain via wikimedia.

Carl Jung associates the mother archetype with “fertility and fruitfulness” [1]. In the painting above, we see the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi offers a wonderful image of the fertility and fruitfulness of the mother. The Rig Veda says that “auspicious fortune is attached” to the name Lakshmi. The Sanskrit word Lakshmi comes from the words lakṣ and lakṣa, meaning “to perceive, observe, know, understand” and “goal, aim, objective” [2]

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Kali: the negative mother image as hidden and dark

Kali, Company school, c.1850 . US public domain via wikimeda
Kali, Company school, c.1850 . US public domain via wikimeda

Carl Jung speaks of the “negative side of the mother archetype”. This aspect of the mother “may connote anything secret, hidden, dark, the abyss.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 158) In the image above, we see Kali, the ‘dark goddess’. David Kinsley says, that “Kali plays the role of Parvati’s dark, negative, violent nature in embodied form”.

A common first reaction to such images is aversion. We wish to avoid that which is dark, hidden, secret. We turn our gaze from the abyss. In Tantric philosophy, on the other hand, we do not flee from such images; instead, we recognize them as essential to enlightenment.

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The Egg as an Image of God and Self

 Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516) The Garden of Earthly, Museo del Prado, US Public Domain Delights,
Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516) The Garden of Earthly Delights, Museo del Prado, US Public Domain Wikimedia

In the above image by Hieronymus Bosch, we see human beings crawling out of the water into an egg. This is a wonderful image. One could say it depicts the primal creation, but backwards. The egg is an archetypal motif of the first-born. In the Vedas, the primordial egg is called Hiraṇyagarbha or Prajāpati, meaning the ‘golden egg’. The golden egg is the seed of creation, the first-born, or first cause in the act of creating the cosmos. The Ṛgveda, speaks of Hiraṇyagarbha:

yo deveṣv ādhi devā eka āsīt
He is the God of gods, and none beside him.

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Kamadeva: the deity emerges out of original chaos

Kamadeva, God of Love, 18th-19th century. US public domain via wikimedia
Kamadeva, God of Love, 18th-19th century. US public domain via wikimedia

In the image above, we see a man sitting on a bird. He holds a bow and arrow. He is Kama Deva, the god of love. Kamadeva is said to be the son of the mother goddess Shri Devi.

Carl Jung speaks of “Kama, the God of love”, as “a cosmogonic principle.” Cosmogony is the emergence of the cosmos. In the hymn of creation (Nasadiya Sukta) from the Rig Veda (10.129), we find Kama mentioned as a cosmic principle, as cosmic love.

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Chakras and Participation Mystique

Sapta Chakra, from a Yoga manuscipt in Braj Bhasa lanaguage with 118 pages. 1899. US Public Domain via wikimedia.
Sapta Chakra, from a Yoga manuscript in Braj Bhasa language with 118 pages. 1899. US Public Domain via wikimedia.

One of the more subtle themes in Carl Jung’s work is a dialectical exploration of the nature of the psyche, specifically that of subject/ object differentiation. This exploration weaves throughout his writings.  It is most clearly brought to light in his writings on participation mystique.  Jung says:

Participation mystique “denotes a peculiar kind of psychological connection with objects, and consists in the fact that the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to partial identity.” (Jung CW 6: para 781).

Jung speaks of participation mystique in terms of projection of our unconscious contents onto others and the world around us. He says:

“People with a narrow conscious life exteriorize their unconscious, they are continually in participation mystique with other people… if more unconscious things have become conscious to you, then you live less in participation mystique.” (Visions, para 1184).

He also states: Continue reading “Chakras and Participation Mystique”