Zombie Apocalypse: a symbol of collective transformation

 Gajda, Tegning af en Zombi. US Public Domain via Wikimedia
Gajda, Tegning af en Zombi. US Public Domain via Wikimedia

What cannot be worked through at the conscious level is often worked through at the unconscious level, in dreams and fantasy. cf. Carl Jung  (CW 5, para 4-45). When encountering that which we cannot dream, we confront the limits of sense.

Film and art may present an unconscious attempts to work through collective transformation at the limits of reason and sense. In zombie movies and the growing zombie apocalypse movement, we may be seeing an attempt to dream ‘apocalyptic’ change.

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An imaginal journey into the origin and history of soul

“Language, in its origin and essence, is simply a system of signs or symbols that denote real occurrences or their echo in the human soul.” (Carl Jung, para. 13)

In its origin and essence language is a mode of the soul. Jung echoes one of the earliest psychological texts, titled the Psychologia Empirica. Writing in 1732, Christian Wolff says:

“Thinking is an act of the soul whereby it becomes conscious of itself and of other things outside itself” (cited in Jung fn 2).

It is with the soul in mind that we begin our discussion of Jung’s Essay on Two Kinds of Thinking, addressing language from the perspective of the soul. Here, language is an act of the soul, whereby the soul becomes conscious of itself.


At origin, at basis, there is no thought, no language.  Something is, but we cannot call it being or non-being, we cannot know it as full or empty. All we can fathom is that it is the ground of life: essential to life, yet unsayable, unspeakable. It, unfathomable, gives birth to soul.

Ground emerges into form, becoming the divine body of life. The divine body is the birth place of soul, the container or vessel for soul. Divinity and soul are first in unity; they are “indistinct” (Para. 23), like a baby in womb.

With time, the soul emerges out of primal unity into differentiation, initiating a process of individuation. The soul aims to become conscious of itself and others outside of itself. The soul seeks to know life, as the divine body of life. Language is a mode of the soul in communion with and about its mother world. Jung says:

“From time immemorial language has been directed outwards and used as a bridge, which has but a single purpose, namely that of communication. So long as we think directedly, we think for and speak to others” (para. 12).

In its emergent form the soul thinks for and speaks to the divine body. Language becomes a bridge between a soul and divine other. The soul realizes itself in dynamic communion: speaking, bridging, linking, and interweaving with the divine body of life.

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Dialectical struggle & the Elixir of Immortality

Kurmavatara, Made in Himachal Pradesh, India,1760-65 Artist/maker unknown, India, Himachal Pradesh, Basohli or Chamba, US Public Domain
Samudra manthan, churning of the Ocean of Milk, Artist unknown- C. 1760 US Public Domain

To live is to struggle. Whether we are rich or poor, beautiful or plain, famous or more humble, we will struggle. The struggle arises from within. It is a struggle of the mind. Yet it is this very struggle that brings forth the potential for growth and Self-realization. It is our ability to be with the struggle, to work with the tensions of life, that opens a horizon for growth and awareness.

The Vedic tradition speaks to this struggle. We are said to live within the world of Maya, the world of duality: good and bad, dark and light, sun and moon, day and night, up and down, inside and outside.

In Vedanta, this struggle of duality is related to avidyā. Avidyā is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘ignorance’ and ‘delusion.’ This word is opposed to Vidya, meaning ‘correct knowledge.’ Avidyā is represented in images of the demons. Avidyā is said to be the ignorance which prevents an understanding of the true nature of the Self, as cosmic or universal Self.

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Dreams may act in a compensatory manner to waking thought

Awareness of dream consciousness is of central importance to the process of integration and Self-realization. Carl Jung offer great insight into the nature of dreams, in particular their role in psychic integration.

Jung postulates that dreams compensates for the one-sidedness of conscious thought. He says:

“those thoughts, inclinations, and tendencies which in conscious life are too little valued come spontaneously into action during the sleeping state” (CW 8, para 466)

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Eve spins

Anonymous Author, at the Hunterian Psalter, Eve spinning, 1170, US Public Domain
Anonymous Author, at the Hunterian Psalter, Eve spinning, 1170, US Public Domain

In the image above, we see a painting from 1170 of Eve spinning. In the Middle Ages, Eve was commonly associated with spinning. Spinning is an ancient art in which plant and animal fiber fragments are spun and twisted so as to form a yarn. This is a perfect metaphor for the stories of our life, in which various fragments are twisted together to form this fate which we call our life.

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