|HOME | INDUSTRY DIRECTORY | COLUMNS | REVIEWS | NEWS ARCHIVE | GALLERY | REFERENCE | FUN STUFF | SCIENCE FICTION | HORROR|
I have completed a lecture on the subject of the realized collective unconscious, which I wished to pass along to you. I would appreciate, at least, your comments. As you can see, I have no doubt about the reality of the phenomena we experienced, however I wish to seek an understanding of the reasons why. I intend to submit the paper to several Journals for publication in the coming months, and self-publish if it is rejected. I would gladly collaborate with you, if you feel our views can be reconciled.
I would ask, if you tend to disagree with my findings, if you would explain your own theories as to the nature and origin of the manifestations which we encountered in Northern Ireland.
I will be journeying to America in the coming weeks, with two British Gentlemen who are investigating Lord F.'s demise. I hope to see you there.
M. Djuna Mautaunin
Carbon Manuscript Enclosed
Lecture delivered by Djuna Mautanin at Paris, February 28, 1923.
"Medical psychology differs from all other scientific disciplines in that it has to deal with the most complex problems without being able to rely on tested rules of procedure, on a series of verifiable experiments and logically explicable facts." (Jung, Lecture at Basel, 1922).
To many people, life can be seen as a purely organic and physical process. Those who think in this way conceive our mental life as anabolic and catabolic processes in the brain-cells. These processes are necessarily thought of merely as laboratory processes of synthesis and disentegration - for to think of them as living processes is totally impossible so long as we cannot think in terms of the life- process itself. But that is how we would have to think of the cell-processes if validity were to be claimed for the materialistic view. In that case we would already have passed beyond materialism, for in Jung's words:
"Life can never be thought of as a function of matter, but only as a process existing in and for itself, to which energy and matter are subordinate. Life as a function of matter postulates spontaneous generation, and for proof of that we shall have a very long time to wait. We have nor more justification for understanding the psyche as a brain-process than we ahve for understanding life in general from a one-sided, arbitrarily materialistic point of view that can never be proved, quite apart from the fact that the very attempt to imagine such a thing is crazy in itsel and has always engendered craziness whenever it was taken seriously. We have, on the contrary, to consider the psychic process as psychic and not as an organic cell-process."
However indignant people may get about "metaphysical phantoms": when cell-processes are explained vitalistically, they nevertheless continue to regard the physical hypothesis as "scientific" although it is no less fantastic. But it fits in with the materialistic prejudice, and therefore every bit of nonsense, provided that it turns the psychic into the physical, becomes scientifically sacrosanct. Let us hope that the time is not far off when this relic of ingrained and thoughtless materialism will be eradicated from the minds of our scientists.
Structurally the unconscious and the conscious constitute the two subsystems of the psyche. At the level of full consciousness is the persona. The word originally meant the actor's mask, but it is not usd in the negative sense. We need mediation between our inner psychic life and the outside world, as much as we need a skin for the same purpose of our physical being. It would be destructive if we behaved in the same way under all situations; as a teacher in front of a class, as a lover in bed. The persona may become rigid as with the lawyer or minister who cannot stop their roles. Ideally the persona is flexible, that is, different circumstances evoke within us different qualities and aspects that are adaptive within the given context.
Empirical psychology loved, until recently, to explain the "unconscious" as mere absence of consciousness-the term itself indicates as much-just as shadow is an absence of light. Today accurate observation of unconscious processes has recognized, with all other ages before us, that the unconscious possesses a creative autonomy such as a mere shadow could never be endowed with.
Beneath the unconscious lies the lies the primordial unconscious of Jacob Burkhardt, which Jung has called the collective unconscious. Jung does not offer a distinct view of what this unconscious is, but peoples it with primordial images, which he calls archetypes. - "our personal psychology is just a thin skin, a ripple on the ocean of collective psychology. The powerful factor, the factor which changes our whole life, which changes the surface of our known world, which makes history, is collective psychology, and collective psychology moves according to laws entirely different from those of our consciousness. The archetypes are the great decisive forces, they bring about the real events, and not our personal reasoning and practical intellect ... The archetypal images decide the fate of man. " (Jung, Lecture, 1922)
Beneath even the collective unconscious, we may speculate upon the existence of what we will call the Numinosum, from Rudolf Otto's term (in his Idea of the Holy) for the inexpressible, mysterious, terrifying, directly experienced and pertaining only to the divinity.
Jung tells us: "It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us, but we are unable to distinguish whether these actions emanate from God or from the unconscious. We tell whether God and the unconscious are two different entities. Both are border-line concepts for transcendental contents. But empirically it can be established, with a sufficient degree of probability, that there is in the unconscious an archetype of wholeness which manifests itself spontaneously dreams, etc., and a tendency, independent of the conscious will, to relate other archetypes to this center. Consequently, it does not seem improbable that the archetype produces a symbolism which has always characterized and expressed the Deity . . . The God-image does not coincide with the unconscious as such, but with a special content of it, namely the archetype of the self. It is this archetype from which we can no longer distinguish the God-image empirically. One can, then, explain the God-image . . . as a reflection of the self, or, conversely, explain the self as an imago Dei in man."
We may broaden the concept a little to include the basic primordial urge, suggested by the Gnostics, from which the Gnostic demiurge, or mythical evil creator emerges to wrap spirit in flesh. We depart here from the Gnostics however, because we see an upward struggle, from numinosum, towards individuation. Following a rational descent into the psyche, we may define "God" as a chaos, blind and knowing nothing, at the center of time and the universe.
Individual existence, then emerges as an ascent from, and ultimately relapse to, the chaos of the collective unconscious. But the unconscious is not the numinous primal chaos - it is peopled with archetypes and symbols - more structured, and less complex - farther from individuation, than the roles of the persona.
Jung suggests as much when he says: "Natural man is not a "self"-he is the mass and a particle in the mass, collective to such a degree that he is not even sure of his own ego. That is why since time immemorial he has needed the transformation mysteries to turn him into something, and to rescue him from the animal collective psyche, which is nothing but an assortment, a variety performance. (Jung, Lecture at Basel, 1921)
We have long considered the unconscious to be our storehouse of energy, the psychic sphere within which transformations and metamorphoses are made possible. We can now postulate logically that the primordial unconscious, existing without the particular input of any one of its members, might manifest itself independent of the conscious.
The concept of the existence of psychical energies apart from the mind is not new. In the previous century, the world was rocked by claims on the part of Spiritualists, beginning with the Fox Sisters in America, to have witnessed, or to be able to produce, evidence of the existence of the energy of life, apart from the organism of life. "Protoplasm" was produced as "evidence" of the ability of the pure psychical emanation (usually but not always associated with the more or less recently dead) to affect our material world. In almost all cases, claims of "Spiritualist" activities turned out to be fraudulent.
In establishing the reality, at least, of discrete psychical events, we may turn to the Journal of The Society for Psychical Research. The Society was founded in 1882 by a distinguished group of Cambridge scholars Sidgwick, Broad, Bergsonin) order to examine allegedly paranormal phenomena, in a scientific and unbiased way. In forty-one volumes the Society chronicles the ability of the individual mind to affect external circumstance, without physical interference.
How much more powerful then the tentacles of the vast collective unconscious. Our everyday persona a calm and placid sea, beneath which the primordial unconscious lies like a great octopus - occasionally a tentacle may stir the surface, or a fish, flashing, disappear. To suggest that the individual unconscious can affect physical circumstance, while the collective unconscious cannot would be contradictory to reason.
In what form might the Collective unconscious manifest. Certainly, as archetype. We will enlarge upon Jung, and posit two layers of the collective unconscious , the true collective unconscious, made up of the symbols of the persona such as anima and animus, and of man's mythology (Kranfeldt, Komplex und Mythos), and the primordial unconscious, more heavily colored by the numinosum. It is from the numinosum that the most primitive aspects of our unconscious spring - thantos, and god-image.
Jung has posited that all products of the unconscious are symbolic. Throughout history, we see records of the physical manifestations of the collective unconscious. Every European nation has its mythology of "little people" whose appearances are routinely spontaneous, and defy physical logic. The faerie of Great Britain and Brittany, the gnomes of Scandinavia, the kobold of Germany, the sidhe of Ireland, and a thousand other local appellations are attached to these poltergeists. Unquiet and chaotic, they appear to be a more childlike, less civilized version of ourselves. Legends of them describe their caprice, and sometimes malevolence. In some introspective cultures, great attention has been given to the categorization of these goustlaik creatures. For our purposes, we need posit only two, perhaps interchangable, categories. The poltergeist, the noisy or mischevious spirit, and the B'swilligeist, or malevolent spirit.
The manifestation of the primordial unconscious must needs be an order of magnitude more splendid and terrifying than the manifestation of the collective unconscious. Here we see the connections between disparate mythologies so paintstakingly examined by Sir James Frazer in The Golden Bough. Here we have the creatures of primitive creation myth - the source of Tiamat and Uranus. In nearly every primitive theology we see a threefold evolution. First some primal or chaotic creature emerges, (the primordial unconscious), then the gods emerge (the collective unconscious, or archetypes), then finally our own race appears (persona). That which emerges from the primordial unconscious must needs be alien to us. But in those strange and ancient deities we glimpse it. Too, it must be largely banned from impinging on the "material" world of the persona, by the very nature of the persona. When it does, however, the result would necessarily be psychic trauma - the formation of instantaneous complexes of defense.
Finally, we must take into account the legends of possession, by demons or spirits. Immanence, or indwelling, is the spiritual proposition that the numinosium may focus into the physical body. Whether or not the collective or even primordial unconscious may collect itself behind the veil of the persona, filling the unconscious remains open to chilling speculation.
F., a member of the hereditary nobility of Great Britain was a politically important man, of acute intelligence. F. maintained a very materialistic world view, and did not admit to believing in, or seeing, apparitions. F. was widely read, in a variety of languages. F. began living with his mother in a manor house in Northern Ireland. F. showed a keen interest in the archaeology, artifacts, and history of the introspective Celtic peoples who constituted his household staff. He began to receive vists from an apparition in the form of a woman, whom the locals of Celtic stock identified with the Lenan Sidhe, a psychical vampire, which grants artistic inspiration, but drains the vitality of those so gifted. F. was attended by three Doctors, one a practitioner of physical medicine, and two psychiatrists with a background in physical medicine. Following times during which the apparition (which was observed in the course of two days by sixteen disparate reliable witnesses from Britain, Ireland, and the United States) was present, F. demonstrated remarkable excitement, and perceived an increase in intellectual acuity (though the result was incoherent to others). F. allowed the physicians to monitor his vital signs, and a remarkable climb in pulse and heart rate was always observed, and could not be attributed to physical stimuli of any kind. After about a half hour, ennui or mattigkeit set in. F. desired the attentions of the apparition, and expired shortly after being visited by the apparition. The physical symptoms of death were consistent with apoplexy.
F. had a rigid persona formed by an intense political life in London. F. was a bachelor, with classic strongly repressed sexual desires for his mother, (Freud, 1908). His mother was an oppressive personality, who had clearly smothered normal sexual development.
Jung describes anima, the opposite of the male principle animus, in this way: "Every man carries within him the eternal image of woman, not the image of this or that particular woman, but a definitive feminine image. This image is fundamentally unconscious, an hereditary factor of primordial origin engraved in the living organic system of the man, an imprint or 'archetype' [q.v.] of all the ancestral experiences of the female, a deposit, as it were, of all the impressions ever made by woman . . . Since this image is unconscious, it is always unconsciously projected upon the person of the beloved, and is one of the chief reasons for passionate attraction or aversion."
F. was dominated by animus, and formed a very strong independent complex, centered around anima. Resorting to an area where the collective unconscious was very near to the surface, F. became fascinated with his ability to call forth his anima from the collective unconscious. This complex proved fatal, causing a peculiar physical reaction. It is impossible to determine if F. death was due to a necessity to experience punishment for sexual behavior displeasing to his mother through invoking the thantos complex, or due to a malign complex within the collective unconscious itself.
The apparition which apparently initiated the death of F. was seen by others substantially after medical death. In addition the site was plagued by a set of poltergeist disturbances produced by ephermal figures which are easily identified as the sidhe, a sort of Celtic Spirit associated with mischief more than malice. These manifestations were visible only to some witnesses, but acted with enough physical alacrity to substantially interfere with the partaking of food.
Another manifestation was less distinct, associated with a Celtic legend describing "That which runs the ridges." The figure appeared differently to different witnesses, particularly with a strong argument about whether it was green, or grey. Its aspect was certainly symbolic of earth, and greenery. This manifestation would certainly be classified as b'swilligeist, and in fact may have claimed the physical life of one or more men. Several physicians treated physical injuries inflicted by the b'swilligeist, before it was dispelled with a "magical weapon" created through methods described in ancient texts. In this case, the "magical weapon" was itself a poltergeist, possessed of an energy of its own, and returning to the collective unconscious as soon as was plausible. That the focused attentions of the witnesses were sufficient to call such a weapon forth is interesting. The specific rituals represent a running record of the emergent mythology, into which the b'swilligeist was bound. Entering contact with a level of the unconscious through the ritual of the weapon, the witnesses were able to combat the b'swilligeist. Jung has said "With her cunning play of illusions the soul lures into life the inertness of matter that does not want to live. She makes us believe incredible things, that life may be lived." The b'swilligeist though recognizable to us through ancient symbols of Druidic days, dwells closer to the primordial unconscious than to the world of the persona.
In light of the many frauds perpetrated in the interests of "psychical phenomena" in the is only appropriate that we explore the possibility of other causality
Gods and Goddesses - we can neither believe nor disbelieve in such beings upon the available evidence. We can merely commit them to the numinosium with the proviso that their emergence as archetypes, from chaos, gives them greater latitude to act, but without the consciousness to control action.
Delusion or Mass Hallucination - the many scientific and evidentiary aspects of the case of F. are more suitable for a paper on Psychical phenomena than a paper on the Psychic aspects of the event. However, the three physicians present, all of different nationalities, evinced no doubt of the apparent physical tangibility of the various manifestations.
Fraud - the bizarre manifestations surrounding the death of F. do not preclude fraud, however fraud appears unlikely. The necessity for repeated deception of numerous intelligent men and women, over an extended period of time, would be difficult in the extreme. In this case, Fraud is not the logical choice of explanations - its only recommendation is a fondness for a physical theory at any cost.
R. is an American detective from a metropolitan city. R. was involved in infidelity with his partner's wife, and narrowly avoided prosecution when his partner was murdered. R. retains guilt over his infidelity. R. investigated a case in which members of a cult had stolen an archaeological artifact. Afterwards he was contacted regarding several other cases, all of which involved elements of what he considered "supernatural horror." R. formed a complex concerning his persecution by "The Black Man" whom he identifies with Satan. R. has a weak, non-denominational Christian upbringing, leaving him devoid of religious symbolism. He served in the Great War, but was not called to the front lines, and retains a deep guilt, and aggressive anger over this. R. entered psychotherapy because of alcoholism, and loss of sense of self.
R. described numerous encounters with manifestations from the primordial unconscious. His reports were, in principal, corroborated by others present, who were interviewed by the therapist.
R. suffers from numerous defensive complexes. His essential guilt over the War, and his infidelity is nearly masked under a series of complexes designed to protect against these manifestations. In the absence of any other casual factors in his childhood, or sexual relations, it is the opinion of the therapist that his psychoses result from exposure to the primordial unconscious, which he does not have a sufficiently flexible persona to accept. His reactions are characteristic of those who have extensive experience in such investigation, and bear a resemblance to "shell shock" encountered by veterans of the war.
In the Babylonian epic of creation Tiamat is the first primaeval being, primaeval Chaos, a kind of primordial godlike creature that existed before the gods were created. These beings were thought of as being monstrous and having cosmic dimensions. In Akkadian tiamat means `sea' and is used for the Persian Gulf (`Nether sea') and the Mediterranean Sea (`Upper sea'), `nether' and `upper' with respect to the course of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris.
Tiamat is the anima of `Sea' and `sea water'. She appears as such in other epics as well. In the Akkadian tablets relating the myth, names like Tiamat and the other primaeval beings to be mentioned (Apsu, Mummu) are missing the determinative sign for divinity The reason is unknown but should not be seen in relation to their wicked disposition, because, e.g., names of demons do carry this determinative sign.
Apsu, the second primaeval being that existed before the creation of heaven and earth, is the animus personification of subterranean waters. The personification of Apsu (as an individuated being who acts and speaks) is unique in the epic of creation, probably induced by the personification of Tiamat. In other texts Apsu is used in the objective/impersonal sense as the `underground water', representing the depot of precipitation and mineral water, something that can be reached by digging a hole.
Tiamat and Apsu create their offspring. Apsu is called the begetter of the great gods The clamor of the younger gods disturbed her, but she continued to indulge them. When Apsu and Mummu suggested that they kill the younger gods, she grew furious, calmed down and rejected the plan. Her restless subservient goaded her into action after Apsu is slain. They prepared to wage war against the other gods. As Mother Hubur, the underworld river, who fashions all things, she bore giant snakes with venom for blood, and cloaked dragons with a godlike radiance yet with a terrible visage, for the war. She rallied a horned serpent, a mushussu-dragon, a lahmu-hero, a ugallu-demon, a rabid dog, a scorpion-man, umu-demons, a fish-man, a bull-man, and eleven others underneath herchampion, Qingu. She gave Qingu the Tablet of Destinies to facilitate his command and attack.
Marduk came with his host to attack her. Qingu's strategy initially confuses him, and Tiamat tried to enspell him, hurling jibes at him. She was rebuffed and incited into single combat with Marduk. She continued to cast her spell and Marduk nets her, and throws a wind at her. She tried to swallow it and was undone - distended, shot, sliced in two and cut in the heart. Her crushed skull heralded her death, and half of her skin was used to roof up the sky. Her eyes became the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The Tiamat Legend can easily be seen as a reflection of the unconscious knowledge of the emergence of consciousness from primal numinous, chaos. Tiamat contains the gods within her, and they emerge to contend with each other, taking on individual personalities. In their strife, they drive her to cohesion, taking on a persona, and taking part in battle.
Our Legendry and Mythology is a product of, and a reflection of our primordial unconscious. The legends of primal deities like Tiamat, who have little persona compared with their more humanlike successors are an indicator of the development of the conscious.
But Tiamat rises to slay her noisome children. Eventually she is defeated by Marduk (individuation). There is a lesson here though. While our archetypical God-Image may be beneficent, our primordial God-Image may well be malevolent, wishing nothing more than our return to chaos. Jung warns us - the unconscious is dangerous.
It is tempting to ask "how can we believe that the unconscious can affect reality." We must pause for a moment to reflect on the nature of reality - it is merely the sum total of our perceptions. Then let us rephrase the question "how can we believe that reality is not a product of the unconscious - individual and collective.
The collective unconscious, and primordial unconscious, are vast reservoirs of myth and imagery. But they may also be active forces in themselves, sending manifestations to confront us in the world of the persona. Where their grip on the persona of the indigent population is stronger, they may perforce, be more energetic.
ILF Chief Staff Officer
The Interactive Literature Foundation is a non-profit organization that exists exclusively to promote IL around the globe by spreading information about IL, as a form of art, education, and entertainment.
ILF WWW Site