The geography of the Collective Unconscious is wide and broad, from the underworld planes of shamanic journeys to the upper cosmic bright fields of lightness, not to mention the geometric fabric of the psychic background field.
This post is the continuation of two previous posts. So, if you haven’t read the first two posts I urge you to do so. Follow the links to read the previous posts:
* Spiritual Explorer’s Guide to the Mind – Part 1
* Spiritual Explorer’s Guide to the Mind – Part 2
In the Collective Unconscious, it is possible to encounter the most unusual beings in all kind of shapes, forms and sizes, from power animals, to glorious gods, evil dark forces, and light helpers. The list is vast.
At this point, it is important to make a distinction between who really ventures into the Collective Unconscious and who doesn´t. Some have heard about it, others have had a personal first-time experience of the place. I am talking about the “believer” and the “explorer”.
The “believer” and the “explorer” are two very different kinds of human beings. For the former suffice to have read a book or heard about it from an authority connected to the flavour of belief she is accustomed to accepting as Truth. The later needs a personal experience of the place to come about her world gnosis. For the “explorer” the Truth is a process built upon new experiences. Even so, the “explorer” lacks sometimes the skill to analyze and question the personal experience she went through and extract the essence of it so that it may be integrated into her daily life.
One often sees discussions taking place between a spiritual believer and a spiritual explorer, and it is the oddest thing to observe, as they try to discuss based on different sources of information. One is talking about something she heard about in a book, the other is talking about the place she visited and experienced firsthand.
A gross comparison would be a discussion between two friends about some exotic place, one arguing based on the travel agency’s brochures and the other returning from a trip to the place.
In general, it is very common for the spiritual believer to try to convince the spiritual explorer about the specifics of the place that she never visited. The downside of the spiritual explorer is that she is so identified with the experience that she has some difficulty to put it into perspective and realize that it is her personal experience and not dogma.
My personal opinion is that it is far better to visit the place than to delude myself about having been there just by reading the brochure, but that’s me.
Let’s explore the geography of the Collective Unconscious and what you might find there.
The Collective Unconscious
After accessing the Personal Unconscious and the Shadow, if all goes well and you harness your Personal Power (facing Fear) and assume your birthright Gifts, you are granted access to the Collective Unconscious, or Bliss Fields, as I like to call them.
The Collective Unconscious is an area of the psyche where the content is less personal and more connected with a collective psyche system, a global system used and shared by the whole human experience.
Meet The Archetypes
The content we can find In the Collective Unconscious was called by Carl Jung the Archetypes. Archetypes are psychic templates that most humans experience. They can be witnessed everywhere, in every culture and time. The template of the Great Mother is universal, although in each culture it will have its specificities, in plus, each woman will interpret that template in her own style and uniqueness when she becomes a mother.
Let us see some examples of Archetypes for a better understanding:
|Wise Old Man||Orphan||Sage|
|Wise Old Woman||Caregiver||Innocent|
The following quote from Carl Jung gives a broad idea of his notion of the Collective Unconscious at the time:
My thesis, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.”
– Carl Jung, “The Concept of the Collective Unconscious
Archetypes seem to work from both within and without, for they can express themselves as impulses and images from the interior psyche, yet also as events and situations in the external world.
We meet archetypes in real life embodied in people, in dreams, in literature, movies and in fairy tales, or when we do psychic exploration through trance, the hero’s journey, meditation, ritual, fasting, kundalini yoga, a shamanic journey, or in altered states of consciousness induced by psychedelics.
The archetypes are easy to spot. Under their external appearances, they always express a certain kind of character or action that is specific to each one of them. The table below gives a more specific idea of this:
|Hero||Courageous||Helps you be brave and act courageously|
|Jester||Fun||Helps you have a good time|
|Explorer||Discovery||Helps you experience new things and independence|
|Ruler||Authority||Helps you exert control|
|Outlaw||Rebellion||Helps you break the rules|
|Enchantress||Sensuality||Helps you love and be loved|
|Innocent||Faith||Helps you feel optimistic|
|Caregiver||Stability||Helps you care for your loved ones|
|Magician||Transformation||Transforms the ordinary into extraordinary|
|Companion||Belonging||Helps you feel connected and understood|
|Actress||Drama||Helps you feel glamorous and stylish|
|Sage||Guidance||Helps you learn about yourself and the world|
We can see an example of these characteristics on a more mythological level when we talk about a god archetype like Venus, Aphrodite or Hathor. They always represent an expression of the desire for love and the experience of beauty. As to the gods Mars or Ares they express the impulse toward forceful activity and aggression.
A word of advice: some think Archetypes as just mere templates. On the contrary, Archetypes are not inanimate templates, they are autonomous and conscious entities in their own right. The whole of the Collective Unconscious is conscious and alive. Lewis Carrol gives a good artistic image of this through “Alice in Wonderland”.
In plus, Archetypes are a source of great power and motivation for good or evil. It all depends how you connect with them, the kind of relationship you establish and your intentions. Being able to befriend an Archetype, tune to it and channel its characteristics and motivational energy can dramatically change your outlook on life, how you live it and what you aim for.
A final word of advice to the Explorer: do please be critical when you travel the unconscious. Why? Because you can be fooled in two ways:
- The Archetype you encounter might not be what you think. What you might identify as an Archetype can be a projection of your personal unconscious, and you are being fooled by yourself without knowing it;
- Another common pitfall is that Archetypes change their external appearance to you, leading you to misidentify them. One case that this is very common is with the Shapeshifter and the Trickster Archetypes (but all can change). It is not that uncommon that dark Archetypes show up as light Archetypes in order to manipulate and mislead you.
So, to be safe, always use common sense and question the validity of the Archetype and its source.
At the core of the Collective Unconscious experience, there is a duality that is of utmost importance and deals with the way we deal with the energy of LOVE, either in a constructive or obliterative way.
The Love Archetypes – The Anima & Animus
There are two very important Archetypes for the Human experience: the Anima and Animus. They are two primary anthropomorphic archetypes of the Collective Unconscious.
According to Carl Jung, at the depths of a man’s Collective Unconscious, we find the Anima Archetype, a feminine inner personality. Reciprocally, in the Collective Unconscious of a woman, the opposed polarity is found, expressed as a masculine inner personality, the Animus.
For a woman, the Animus represents the perfect idealized man. For the man it is the same in relation to the Anima, she is the perfect idealized woman, and it functions just like the Animus for the woman.
While a man’s task in assimilating the effects of the Anima involves discovering his true feelings, a woman becomes familiar with the nature of the Animus by constantly questioning her ideas and opinions.
The way a man deals with his Anima or a woman with her Animus will determine how they interact with the opposite gender including their attitudes toward love relationships and love in general, including creativity.
Anima. The inner feminine side of a man.
Initially identified with the personal mother, the anima is later experienced not only in other women but sometimes as a pervasive influence in a man’s life.
The anima is personified in dreams by images of women ranging from seductress to spiritual guide. It is associated with the Eros principle, hence a man’s Anima development is reflected in how he relates to women. Within his own psyche, the Anima functions as his soul, influencing his ideas, attitudes and emotions.
As an inner personality, the anima is complementary to the persona and stands in a compensatory relationship to it.
The persona, the ideal picture of a man as he should be, is inwardly compensated by feminine weakness, and as the individual outwardly plays the strong man, so he becomes inwardly a woman, i.e., the anima, for it is the anima that reacts to the persona. But because the inner world is dark and invisible … and because a man is all the less capable of conceiving his weaknesses the more he is identified with the persona, the persona’s counterpart, the anima, remains completely in the dark and is at once projected, so that our hero comes under the heel of his wife’s slipper.
– Carl Jung [“Anima and Animus,” CW 7, par. 309.]
As examples of the Anima in the middle ages we have the love devotion of the troubadour and his lady, we also find it in chivalry stories, and through the ages when poets talk about their divine inspiration, the muse.
Animus. The inner masculine side of a woman.
A Woman is compensated by a masculine element and therefore her unconscious has, so to speak, a masculine imprint. This results in a considerable psychological difference between men and women, and accordingly I have called the projection-making factor in women the animus, which means mind or spirit. The animus corresponds to the paternal Logos just as the anima corresponds to the maternal Eros.
– Carl Jung [“The Syzygy: Anima and Animus,” CW 9ii, pars. 28f.]
Like the anima, the animus too has a positive aspect. Through the figure of the father he expresses not only conventional opinion but – equally – what we call “spirit,” philosophical or religious ideas in particular, or rather the attitude resulting from them. Thus the animus is a psychopomp, a mediator between the conscious and the unconscious and a personification of the latter.
– Carl Jung [“The Syzygy: Anima and Animus,” CW 9ii, pars. 33.]
Any of these aspects of the animus can be projected onto a man. As with the projected anima, this can lead to unrealistic expectations and acrimony in relationships.
Falling In Love – The Play Of Anima And Animus
When the Anima and Animus are activated in man and woman, an intensity of feeling is elevated and a temporary blurring of rationality occurs, it is the “falling in love”. The woman “projects” the internal image, the Animus, on the man, and he becomes the perfect partner. A similar process occurs in a man, he “projects” his internal Anima on her, and she becomes the perfect partner too. This process of “falling in love” although delicious for the senses creates a state of illusion detached from reality.
We all know cases of going love mad and when the “fix” is over and one comes to reality one might be found abandoned, bankrupt, or emotionally assaulted. On the other hand, when partners are conscious of the process, and there is a solid base for the polarities to meet and transmute, enabling the “wings of love” to move to a higher dimension, some deep alchemy is made, and deep spiritual awakening is created. Carl Jung summarizes this last idea in the following quote:The encounter with the shadow is the ‘apprentice-piece’ in the individual’s development…that with the anima is the ‘masterpiece’.
- Carl JungClick To Tweet
Anima/animus is a bridge to the sacred, the field of the depths of the body encounters with others, self, and eternity.
There is a deeper level of Love which is intentional, deep and purposeful, carried out on a deep level, it is called the Sacred Marriage.
Knowing the Archetypes is important to further the voyage and exploration of the Collective Unconscious, but to advance, another big challenge has to be undertaken: the Sacred Marriage.
We are not talking about a normal, everyday marriage, we are talking about a very special kind of marriage. The Sacred Marriage refers to the union of the Archetypes of Anima and Animus, and of body and divine spirit. Carl Jung mentioned this Sacred Marriage as one.
The Sacred Marriage is a process that undergoes a number of phases of their own mystico-erotic relationship.
When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter the Kingdom.
– Gospel of Thomas, 22, Bible
When the Sacred Marriage has been completed, the divine spirit has been brought ‘down’ to shine through body and soul and has unified itself with them, so they all form one and the same ‘body’. The result is a new androgynous being, called in the alchemical text “the noble Empress”, which is the fusion of the polarities into a psychic hermaphrodite also called the Syzygy. A new kind of consciousness and unity has been achieved.
The Archetype of the Self-encompasses all the Human experience. It is always present and non-intrusive, even when it is not noticed or experienced.
The Self is the Unification of the Conscious and the Unconscious. Individuation and self-actualization. The principle of wholeness and total acceptance and potential.The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.
- Joseph CampbellClick To Tweet
For most, the experience of the Self is that what is closest to the experience of God, as it is an experience of unity referenced by many mystics (do not confuse this with a mental concept, it is a live experience accessible to all, always). A good example of this is the poetry of Rumi and his experiences of identification with the divine. (see also Christian mystics and Sufis).
Love is the endless ocean of God.
Maybe it is important to refer that in Jungian psychology there is this idea that there are two centres of the personality. The Ego is the centre of consciousness, whereas the Self is the centre of the total personality, which includes consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.
The Self is both the whole and the centre. While the ego is a self-contained little centre of the circle contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle.
The experience of the Self is the outer rim of Human experience. After the Self the experience has few or no human element, not to mention notions of time and space. There is no language to describe experiences beyond the Self. Tibetan monks, in Mahayana Buddhism, call this last stage the lesser lights, the limit in the human experience, death, as it is mentioned in the Bardo Thodol.
I hope you enjoy this brief journey into the geography of the mind. Now you have some pointer for the exploration. Wish you the most amazing journey. Travel long and prosper.
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