Reply To: The Process of Individuation March 26, 2021

  • Avatar of Paul Kieniewicz

    Paul Kieniewicz

    29 March 2021 at 5:09 pm

    Individuation for SMN 26/3/21

    Notes from Anne Baring

    The word individuation describes the process of psychic or soul growth. It is essentially about becoming whole – uniting the two aspects of the psyche: the conscious aspect that is known with the unconscious aspect which is unknown to begin with. Essentially, it is about reconnecting our conscious mind with our neglected soul.

    It describes the changing relationship between the ego or the part of the psyche that is focussed on survival in the world – ‘the Spirit of the Times’– and the unknown part of the psyche that Jung called the Self or greater consciousness within the collective unconscious – ‘the Spirit of the Depths.’

    It is also about becoming aware of and integrating the lost instinctive aspect of the psyche – the two-million-year-old man or woman within us. Reconnecting with Nature that we were once connected with. We have become cut off from instinct, from the unconscious, from Nature. Therefore, we are liable to become possessed and driven by the split-off instinct as many situations in the world today illustrate.

    The Self corresponds to what the Upanishads call the Atman or Spirit within the totality of the psyche or soul or to the Spirit or Holy Spirit in Christianity. There are many images of the Self which may appear in dreams. (my dream of the cosmic woman).

    This process cannot be brought about by will power or conscious effort. It happens naturally and involuntarily or can be precipitated by a powerful life experience. It may be reflected in dreams over a long period of time.

    The acorn contains the future unfolding pattern of the oak. The psyche contains the greater potential that may be unknown or unrecognized at the beginning of life but may slowly emerge and develop over the course of it. The beginning of life is about establishing the ego’s relationship with the world, growing up, the life experiences of the young adult. A strong ego is essential for this. But later on, the ego needs to create a relationship with the Self if the true creative potential of the psyche is to be realised.

    Sometimes a wound to the heartmay activate the process of individuation; sometimes an early shamanic experience or shock or an experience of severe depression or a handicap like dyslexia. The life of a creative genius like Mozart takes a different form as the talent that has to be nurtured creates the path of individuation, which often involves great suffering, as with Beethoven. Fairy Tales give many examples of how the hero or heroine has to accomplish some impossible task and is helped by an animal or a bird or an old woman living in the forest.

    The ego’s encounter with the Unconscious or greater dimension of being can begin with the experience of having reached a dead end. Nothing can help. The darkness is absolute and unremitting. Often experienced as depression, referred to in Alchemy as the Nigredo – ‘a blackness blacker than black’. Depression can sometimes be the call of the deeper aspects of the soul for recognition and relationship with the conscious ego.

    Alchemy is an ancient path of Individuation and Initiationdescending from Egypt. It describes three stages of soul-growth:

    1. The Nigredo – the encounter of the ego with the unconscious

    2. The Albedo or stage of the dawning of the light, the discovery of deeper meaning or a different path through life. Responding to the call of the Self.

    3. The Rubedo or the dawning of enlightenment

    The encounter with the Shadowor unknown aspects of the psyche – both positive and negative. Often shows in dreams as living in a house with unexplored rooms symbolising the unexplored, unconscious aspect of the psyche.

    Personal Shadow– qualities and gifts that may have been repressed through parental or educational experience. Deeply imprinted beliefs and habits of behaviour that may have crippled the unfolding of the soul and its creative life. Anger, fear, hatred, jealousy arising from life experiences that have injured the soul. Example: loss of one’s mother in childhood: rage, guilt, deep despair.

    Collective Shadowone example of the collective shadow is the inability of an extraverted culture to pay any attention to the inner world of the psyche or even to recognise its existence.

    A current example of the collective shadow is the failure of the EU to give its people early access to vaccinations, thereby increasing the number of deaths that its people will experience.

    The will to power of the primitive aspect of the shadow predominates over common sense and compassion. The situation requires the sacrifice of the will to power.

    Integrating the contra-sexual aspect of the psyche: the animus and the anima. This is part of the individuation process. A woman needs to integrate aspects of the male psyche – the power to act in the world without being controlled by a negative masculinity which derides and diminishes her feminine nature.

    Similarly, a man needs to integrate aspects of the feminine that he may have looked down on and considered inferior to his nature, yet are essential for his balance and completion.

    Jung knew that we need a radically different image of God: one that did not split nature and matter from spirit. “It was only quite late that we realized or are beginning to realize that God is Reality itself and therefore — last but not least — man.” p. 258 The Dream of the Cosmos.

    p. 427 – God has become pot-bound, stuck in the image of Him we have created.

    p. 256 – Jung’s concept of the process of individuation was to expand the field of our awareness so that we are able to relate to the complex reality of the deeper dimension of the soul. Working to create a relationship with this mysterious entity over many years is like an extended mediation which connects us not only to the life of nature but to the inner life or soul of the Cosmos. Ultimately, this is a sacred marriage of the two aspects of the psyche.

    p. 257 In Jung’s Seven Sermons to the Dead, the Gnostic teacher Basilides describes the primary ground of being as the Pleroma, the root of all, present within all yet beyond all, a nameless, boundless, indefinable and totally transcendent dimension of reality which nevertheless permeates our world in the way that sunlight permeates air.”