From Alchemy to Psychoanalysis [Map with an ‘X’]
“I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in
I wanna feel the changes coming down
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in my shadow.”
~Tool, Forty Six & Two
Assessed in the prior chapter, archetypal symbols are not literal aspects of the brain or mind—they are diagnostic tactics to help determine the dynamic neurophenomenology of them both. They are reference-points with which humans can chart their course and track their progression. There has been a sizable amount of literature put in print and online about the basic details of Jung, his archetypes, and individuation. A great deal of this literature is simple regurgitation of the fundamental concepts, left without consideration as to how these concepts may be used, what their history is, and how this history might still be affecting culture and individuals to this day. Within this chapter, the histories of alchemy and psychology that are often left unconsidered will be analyzed, and as usual, the data will inevitably speak for itself.
Before classical philosophy became a developing field of interest, theology had been the only tool with which humans could analyze the aspects of their mind and environment, and from classical philosophy came humanistic psychology. Each time marks a different and secular attempt at humankind to try and attain a deeper sense of understand that had eluded them previously. After each time, in their attempts at new ways of thinking, these schools of thought always ultimately uncover their roots and origins, and thus become unable as a school of thought to remain separate from their predecessors. This continuous body of knowledge that humankind cultivates—a body of knowledge centered around a human being’s perfect synthesis with the inner and outer worlds through the mode of expression that binds the two worlds together, i.e. the soul—is the collective consciousness. This is not the definition of “God,” briefly discussed in the former chapter as an essential perpetual and natural adaptation mechanism that propels life to flourish. The collective consciousness is more aptly considered as the instrument with which humans perceive God, meaning that the collective consciousness is inherently archetypally alchemical.
Alchemy is what the seeker is initiated unto, and the mason who seeks to build his temple of life does so with alchemy. In freemasonic ritualism, Solomon’s temple is the paragon representation of enlightenment, each man’s own body, mind, and spirit (his accumulated existence) being his own temple. Alchemy comprises the esoteric methods with which a mason builds his temple—thus the allegory of the trade of masonry. More precisely, the legendary original Freemason was named Hiram Abiff—the widow’s son—and he was Solomon’s grand architect and supervisor over the construction of the King’s sacred temple. The Book of Kings in the Old Testament states that Hiram “was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.” (1 Kings 7:14; KJV). A Freemason builds his temple—brick by brick—of his own mental, physical, and spiritual body, coalescing to create the totality of his existence, represented as a Temple with which he pays homage to the cosmos, and it is not surprise that there is a great body of esoteric ritualism that is dedicated to the elaboration of Solomon’s Greater (angelic) and Lesser (demonic) keys to the temple.
Alchemy can very literally (but never exclusively, as Egyptian philosopher, Iamblichus, emphatically warns against reducing alchemy to purely mundane elements) be gardening and horticulture, psychotherapy, metallurgy and any other chemistry, or geology, politics, and any form of liberal art. More precisely, alchemy is the search for gnosis, discovery of gnosis, and application of it—and ultimately how to reproduce this threefold practice in any given aspect of a person’s life at any given time. The alchemist does not necessarily fall under a fixed religion or doctrine, like Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Freemasonry, Hinduism, Judaism, or anything else, although it is always found within them in some form. Alchemy is a description of transpersonal, transformative theme found in all these religions. It is the memetic discipline of the human using archetypes to develop his own quality of life for the better (and sometimes for the worse.) Alchemy can almost without question be directly related to the adaptation principle. The act of initiation, to use the metaphor, is the candidate learning the ways with which he builds the temple of his existence, waking him up to his own path of unique, personalized adaptation. The neophyte must learn to find the key before he can open any locks.
Hermes Trismegistus was the original alchemist, the divine scribe of the gods, and the link between man and the heavens. Hermes was considered an essential god in the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman mystery rites of antiquity, and was known to be the god who predominated culture and its arts, like painting, writing, and poetry, as well as the intellect required to convey a message beyond the art or technical skill being used (hence the ‘messenger’ archetype). He was also considered a bit of a trickster who enjoyed a good laugh but was always considered fair and honest—if the receiver of his message was prepared to decipher it accurately. This, in effect, makes Hermes the archetypal god presiding over chaos theory as well, but classically, Hermeticism comprised of three practices: alchemy, astrology, and theurgy (astrology and theurgy will be allotted their own chapters ahead). The Corpus Hermeticum, or the Hermetica, is said to be his ancient wisdom. A compilation of Egyptian, Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, and other cultures more, the Corpus Hermeticum as we have it today was first published in the 1500’s, part of the medieval renaissance, and it was widely considered by many Christians that Hermes was a pre-Christian prophet for God, thus creating classical Christian alchemy of the renaissance era and forward.
Theurgy is the act of summoning gods, angels, and demons. This is symbolized, of course, by the fact that he is the messenger between man and the divine realms, which in turn also made him an archetypal psychopomp—meaning that he helped carry the souls of mortals to their destinations in the afterlife. It should also be mentioned that modern-day Hermeticism would not be what it is without the strong historical lineage of Neoplatonism, which was itself derived from the same mystery rites of antiquity, and all of these schools of thought are only barely mutually exclusive.
There was an effect that the alchemist sought to cause through this process of purification into gold, and this was brought about only through inevitably beginning with impurity and lead, purity and impurity of an archetypal nature being the key behind the allegory here. Art is not exclusively a “liberal art” like music, poetry, and the like, but is the process of taking something impure and purifying it. This juxtaposition of lightness within the darkness is best symbolized by the mythological phoenix and its transmutation. Inherently, art is a cathartic experience. An artist does not really go about art with any other intentions beyond catharsis, and this is a deeply entrenched, unconscious, adaptational mechanism. (If they do so exclusively for material gain, they are not a real artist in any sense—they are business people.) It is the conscious mind seeking to reconcile or purify aspects of the unconscious mind by conceptualizing them through artistic mediums.
I present the reader with the classical Hermetic cosmogony, drawn from the Corpus Hermeticum. Since Hermeticism represents a surviving combination of all alchemical symbolisms seen primarily throughout Egyptian and Greek mystery rites, we may conclude without any stretch of the data that Hermes is, in effect, the god of chaos theory. Thus, alchemy, chaos theory, and psychodynamic psychology are even less capable of remaining apart from one another.
The conception of the universe essentially begins with the wedding of the feminine primordial darkness and this first light within that darkness, which is considered the masculine principle of creation. Thus, we have the archetypal wedding of mother and father. What was once darkness, now becomes an archetype of water, representing a symbolic transformation of this feminine archetype from unknowable (darkness), into somewhat knowable but still perilous (the depths of the ocean). Consequently, the Light of the father principle begins formulating and organizing the unknown depths of the feminine archetypal waters through the act of written and spoken word, or logos. From this organization, the Light assembles the feminine depths of the unknown into the Four Elements of the physical plane: earth, air, fire, and water. From the active elements of fire and air, the Father Light organizes the seven Administrators of Destiny, and these administrators are symbolized by Dante’s seven heavens, and the classical Neoplatonic planetary correlates: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon. The final systems proposed are Nature and Aether or Ether. Nature is comprised of the passive elemental forces of earth and water, and ether is the union of the active elemental forces of wind and fire, which created the Administrators of Destiny. This will play heavily into the upcoming chapter on the classical Trees of Life and Death.
The human consciousness is diurnal, meaning it has a daily cycle that implies “day” and “night”, “light” and “dark”, “positive” and “negative”, and even “masculine” and “feminine.” Perhaps the most important connotation to address here is “positive” and “negative”, because their traditional phraseology is lost to everyone today except the philosopher and the physicist. The proton has a positive charge, meaning it has an active charge, which would be characterized symbolically as Marsian, which is associated with the masculine aggression characteristic. This is not a linear scientific equation—the proton does nothing in direct result to affect an aggressive nature—but they stem from same archetypal symbolic functionality. A person with “positive vibes” would be using this positive energy of the archetypal active charge, but this in no way means that the archetypal active charge could not create “negative vibes”. The key words here are “activity” and “action” when considering the positive. Positive and negative in the loose and generic social sense of good and bad should be completely set aside here—but good and evil are not nonexistent, they represent essential archetypal functionalities as well.
The point is made clearer by the fact that the negatively charged particle, referred to as an “electron”, in scholastic study has a lesser-known name, the “negatron”. The negative charge of the electron represents passivity and attraction, like with magnetism as an example, and through these characteristics it represents femininity. And like the archetypal active charge, the archetypal negative charge not only has the capability to attract and create a space upon which mechanisms can be built (i.e. nurturing) it provides the capability to electrocute. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and mothers are generally no exception.
When considering the symbolic dichotomy of “dark” and “light” in this archetypal, psychoanalytical sense, we find that “dark” is associated with femininity and motherhood, while “light” is associated with masculinity and fatherhood. So, by having femininity associated archetypally with the unknown, mystery, and passivity, this is in no sense misogynistic. The whole idea, in the long run, is the celebration of the both man and woman in union. Humans sleep and rest in the dark, and perform the mundane and essential duties during the light. Translated to the consciousness of a single human mind, the bright illumination of the daylight is waking consciousness, and the blackness of the night’s mystery and resolve is the unconscious mind. This dynamic exchange of conscious and unconscious is best explained through the Yin and the Yang of Taoist alchemical symbolism. Yin is darkness in the symbol, and Yang is the brightness. The little circles on either side of the swirl down the middle represents the necessity for unity amidst polarity and dualism. The dualism will never be extinguished, but it must be abridged.
Vienna, the heart of modern psychology and psychiatry has developed the only non-religious, empirical model of the unconscious mind of the human being, and it would not have developed so fluidly and sporadically had it not been for the German Idealism of the 18th and 19th century, guided by minds such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Friedrich Hegel, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Indeed, it was Hegel’s Hegelian dialectic that paved the way for the psychoanalysis, the synthesis of psychoanalysis (healing) recognized through comparing the thesis (consciousness) with its anti-thesis (unconscious).
The three best and perhaps most interesting modern expeditions into the functionality of the human mind have stemmed from Vienna, commonly known as the three Viennese schools of psychology: Freudian psychoanalysis (from which Carl Jung sprang and veered), Alfred Alder’s individual psychology with his “will to power” hypothesis of human drives and motivations, and Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy which became the foundation of humanistic psychology. His body of study and practice, Logotherapy, focused on the human’s “will to meaning”, which was the postulation that each person was in a sense writing his own story out of his life, and that the best novels or stories needed a strong sense of purpose—man didn’t look for power, sex, drugs, et cetera, because these things themselves were intrinsic to him, but because these self-perpetuating habits were a regulating function of the person who is trying to find their meaning in life, and usually tends to be missing the mark.
Goethe was specifically quintessential to modern psychology because of his illustrious use and descriptions of alchemical symbolism in a coherent and cohesive context in his writings, specifically with his rendition of Faust. In the story of Dr. Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles, Goethe created a landscape upon which the earth was a canvas for the mind—he wasted no space using classical alchemical symbolism to relay subtle and poignant meanings akin to mythology.
In her novel, Goethe’s Allegories of Identity (p.4), Jane K. Brown writes, “It is widely accepted that Goethe contributed immensely to the depth psychology that corresponds to the shift to interiorized subjectivity. According to Henri Ellenberger, historian of psychoanalysis, Freud intended ‘to incorporate into scientific psychology those hidden realms of the human psyche that had been grasped intuitively by the Greek tragedians, Shakespeare, Goethe, and other great writers.’ But none of the early psychoanalysts identified with the Greeks or Shakespeare in the same way as they did with Goethe, who served many as their ego ideal. Freud said he was inspired to study medicine by an essay on nature attributed at the time to Goethe… And Carl Gustav Jung, who ‘quoted from Faust on almost any occasion,’ begins his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by denying the rumor that he was an illegitimate grandson of Goethe— a rumor that the denial, of course, did much to propagate.” Yes, it is little remembered today that there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding Carl Jung’s possible familial relationship to Goethe, which, for the record, does not appear to be true.
Jung himself said on the matter of Goethe, “I regard my work on alchemy as a sign of my inner relationship to Goethe. Goethe’s secret was that he was in the grip of that process of archetypal transformation which has gone on through the centuries. He regarded his Faust as an opus magnum or divinum. He called it his ‘main business,’ and his whole life was enacted within the framework of this drama. Thus, what was alive and active within him was a living substance, a suprapersonal process, the great dream of the mundus typus (archetypal world). I myself am haunted by the same dream, and from my eleventh year I have been launched upon a single enterprise which is my ‘main business’. My life has been permeated and held together by one idea and one goal: namely, to penetrate into the secret of personality. Everything can be explained from this central point, and all my works relate to this one theme.” [MDR p. 206]
Archetypal symbolism is the memetic exchange that embodies subtle functions of the alchemical Microcosm and Macrocosm that have no readily available explanation. The language of symbolism is very much like mathematics and like the number, the symbol can relate a specific connotation, becoming a meme. But it is most significant when placed in a dynamic exchange such as an algorithm, where we see not just how the number functions but how it operates and interacts. The same with numbers, symbolism takes on a very specific syntax when used with specific sequencing. The snake may have a certain amount of symbolism naturally clinging to it, but when the snake is simply paired even without connotation to the apple, for example, then the human mind begins to create all sorts of mental devices, reading between the lines and attempting to deduce the relationship between the two. This is how classical mythology, and work like Dante’s Divine Comedy and Goethe’s Faust were written, and this is why it all impacted Viennese psychology on such an extensive and encompassing level.
In the story, Dr. Faust sells his soul to Mephistopheles, so he may gain incredible powers and experience the highest and deepest levels of human emotion, for he feels that his strong knowledge of science—the inner-workings of the universe and mind—has robbed him of a sense of wonder and satisfaction. It has, in other words, left him entirely depersonalized. Written to reflect the moods of European society at the time, Goethe deepened the character of Faust more than any other rendition had done. It described the doctor as a man whose intellect had robbed him of his faith in anything. The early development of the scientific method was beginning to cast doubt on the dogmatic teachings of the Catholic priesthood and humanity was historically having a difficult time reconciling science with spirit. If the often-superstitious teachings of the Catholic church had not given humanity the beauty that science had to offer, then what else was it hiding? What else might it be entirely wrong about? Humanity, in a time similar to this modern time, and many others throughout history, had unwittingly confronted its own shadow and been horrified, and it is in this sense that science truly can represent the devil and demonology sometimes. Essentially, science represents all of which is known and unknown about the world around us and does not have any end in sight. While this tool is extremely useful and can help humans adapt at more proficient rates than ever before, it may also lead us into and endless pit of faithlessness and hopelessness and moral bankruptcy—which is maladaptation.
See, Dr. Faust spent so long looking for the alchemical secrets that he forgot to look under his own nose. In this context of psychoanalysis, Mephistopheles is the projection of the shadow, Gretchen/Margarete of the anima (the story’s love interest), and psychoanalysis even commonly uses the concept of the Faustian bargain to describe the compensatory mechanisms of the self’s nature in order to “bargain” for a psychical state of peace with neurosis, which is archetypally acknowledged as the shadow. It will be elaborated in greater detail as this novel progresses, but what we may see here through the Faustian bargain is a lack of order within the human’s diurnal mind-state, and thus a maladaptation or bargain must be formed between the conscious and unconscious mind in order to continue functioning.
Whereas Freud saw the unconscious as a type of garbage heap of deposited, useless material that all humans needed to forget about, Jung always took the much deeper and empirical approach, using deduction. Instead of useless material, this collective reservoir seemed to be a reach at something beyond the traditional consciousness, beckoning the human being to look deeper with every decision. Freud’s whole-hearted belief was that every person was neurotic to a degree (which is true) and that every person just had to learn to deal with it—just accept it and move on. This is one way of looking at it, but ultimately Freud was afraid to probe deeper—he knew that neurosis was merely a gateway to yonder mental complexes but thought that humans should learn to control the unconscious and be somewhat fearful of it, rather than engage it and learn to purify it.
Jung was also inspired heavily in part by the dubbed “father of American psychology,” William James. James and Jung were easily more similar than Jung was to Freud, and James himself had a penchant for philosophy, esotericism, and religion along with his psychology. His seminal work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, is still a cornerstone of modern psychology and has already been referenced in the former chapters of this book. It is astonishingly ahead of its time, noting the similarities between the varieties of religious experiences, altered states of consciousness, and practices such as meditation and hypnosis.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate William James briefly is by quoting a letter that Jung wrote to a friend of his first impressions of the American psychologist. The letter, written in 1949 and since published for the public, reads, “I spent two delightful evenings with James alone and I was tremendously impressed by the clearness of his mind and the complete absence of intellectual prejudices… The Conference was noteworthy on account of the fact that it was the first time that Professor Freud had an immediate contact with America. It was the first official recognition of the existence of psychoanalysis and it meant a great deal to him, because recognition in Europe for him was regrettably scarce. I was a young man then. I lectured about association tests and a case of child psychology. I was also interested in parapsychology and my discussions with William James were chiefly about this subject and about the psychology of religious experience.”
Viennese psychotherapist, Wilhelm Reich, has remained popular in psychotherapy and even physical rehabilitative practices for his deep analysis and use of the concept that he coined as muscular armor. Reich saw that when the thesis of the human’s bio-electrical equilibrium was disrupted by too much mental or physical nervous tension, the synthesis between the mind and body was interrupted, and chaos ensued. Reich’s overall hypothesis, something that he called orgone energy, represented the bio-electrical stasis of a human being and was something most noted in the orgastic energies, representing a person’s vital energetic life-force—sex being only one of the ways this force manifests. Essentially, Reich was developing the Hegelian dialectic of the body, observing how the human body was nothing more than a medium for the exchange between the inner energies of the human and the outer energies of its environment, i.e. the Microcosm’s relationship to the Macrocosm.
Advents in physical therapy have already demonstrated the efficacy of Reich’s methods—at least, to a degree. Consider the concept of the anatomy-train, which is the human body’s system of fascial and myofascial linkages. The concept categorizes individual muscles into functional complexes within fascial planes, each of these functional complexes defining a major aspect of human movement. These anatomy trains are the target of acupunctural therapy as well as what is called trigger-point therapy, which is essentially an acupuncture without needles. Practices such as yoga and perhaps even some reiki can be considered as similar focuses of therapy. Medical research into the anatomy-trains concludes that daily posture, which largely stems from a personal psychological state, has a critical impact on movement and flexibility, and improper posture over time can lead to intensive malfunctions of the anatomy trains. This in turn will further affect the person’s psychological state. Thus, we have classical ideas like the spinal column as the kundalini serpent and even the thirty-three degrees of Freemasonry partly representing the thirty three vertebrae in the spine (the pillar of the temple). Jung himself touched on similar ideas with his works like, The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga.
The muscular, postural disruptions, disruptions in breath-patterns, et cetera, are the effect of an energetic exchange between the body, the Microcosm (the person’s mental environment) and the Macrocosm (the person’s physical environment). With this, we can therefore deduce that the human body is the medium of exchange—the ultimate symbol for the vehicle of experience. It is no wonder that the body is considered the brick and mortar of the allegorical temple.
Scholar, Joseph Campbell, has been considered a pioneer in the elaboration of these concepts with his research novel, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, first published in 1949, which serves as a bit of an introduction to parallels in psychology and spiritual symbols, and goes into extensive analysis about the individuation process, i.e. the hero’s journey as the Monomyth. This is described by Campbell as an axiomatic recurring theme throughout spirituality—the recurring theme of the human adaptational process through transpersonal identification, typified by archetypal characters like Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Ulysses, and Osiris, among many more comparisons. (It may behoove the reader to consider how this idea of the Monomyth relates to concepts found within the previous chapter, relating to mysticism and human adaptation.) Campbell was heavily inspired by Jungian analytic psychology but did not limit himself only Jung as a resource, and truly, his composition of a variety of different topics and sources has made his expertise invaluable to the development of analytic psychology. Today, his legacy is marked by a body of research that is similarly impressive to Jung’s or even Manly Hall’s career.
Equally crucial (if not more-so, perhaps) to the development of analytic psychology and mythological study was the legendary, hulking research novel, Hamlet’s Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmission Through Myth, by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend. This book tends to not come across very quote-worthy, since it is a very dry scientific and historical analysis about nearly-innumerable mythological concepts, its contribution to analytic psychology is so vast that it could hardly be adequately described. Not only is it recommended reading for anyone who is looking to understand how symbols correlate with one another archetypally and historically, but also how to begin deciphering the symbols of your own mind’s archetypal web. Hamlet’s Mill simply goes into so much detail about the relationship of symbols (this is the entire premise of the book) that no reader can help beginning to pick up the basic working relationships between archetypes and phenomenology.
For Jung, through a career of deep psychoanalysis with patients and an extensive study of esoteric symbolism, he sought to create a map of these major archetypes throughout the human brain, by aggregating data, cross-examining it, and letting the conclusions draw themselves out. In other words, he did not seek to explain the archetypes, but let the history of the archetypes explain themselves. The collection of archetypes used in his psychoanalysis are powerful, busy highways of human memetic exchange. Archetypal symbols, in other words, are the foundation for the matrix of memetics that society now carries with it. It directly affects how people perceive information about themselves and the world around them. They are the notes that create the music of the thought-process. Essentially, archetypes are the constructive analysis of the imagination—hence the ever-present emphasis on dream analysis in Jung’s work. The imagination is nothing more than a collection of symbols with allegorical meaning, and a human cannot have an imagination without symbols.
These are some quintessential archetypes given to describe the roles with which human interact with each other, themselves, and the environment—these archetypes are expressed throughout myth, folklore, and all around within cultures of the past and present. They are meant to encapsulate ratios, quantities, and contexts of information. They are tools of cognitive application and vary greatly depending on the individual in terms of a personal relationship to these archetypes.
- The Child
- The Thief
- The Hero
- The Caregiver
- The Explorer or Seeker
- The Rebel or Destroyer
- The Lover
- The Creator
- The Jester or Fool
- The Sage
- The Ruler
The next four archetypes are the only proposed irreducible archetypes in Jung’s research. These four are the ones which every single human inevitable has in degrees throughout their natural lives. Because of this, these four archetypes can be seen as steps or phases with which the individuation process manifests through.
- The Self – that part which we know
- The Shadow – that part which we do not know
- The Anima/Animus – that part which we wish to know, separated from us by the Shadow
- The Persona – that part which others know
Lastly, consider psychiatrist, Dr. Stanislav Grof, who has continued a great deal of archetypal research today. The bulk of Grof’s psychiatric research has been conducted with LSD-25 under the traditional scientific setting, directed toward an analysis through hypnotic regressions of thought-complexes that have accumulated through neuronal-archetypal synthesis of data. Grof’s use of psychedelic chemicals in his therapy is radical and borders on the realms of new-agey at times, but his identification of symbols in hypnotic, altered states of consciousness and the therapeutic effect on a human psyche is research that has proven quite interesting. These ideas have been evidenced in varying degrees for the last few decades in the scientific community, but Grof has really gone the extra mile fleshing some of these concepts out. He has termed these phenomena of thought-complexes, as COEX systems. Abbreviated from “Condensed Experience,”, they are differentiated into negative and positive COEX systems and meant to be a codex. This codex is a map of a person’s internal Hegelian dialectic, through the archetypal assimilation of data that accumulates a human’s cognitive experience. In other words, it is the physical manifestation and internalization of a person’s inner memetic web.
Listed below are the holotropic states, which serve as Grof’s proposed matrix of context that all COEX system progenote from. These are the initial preconditions, the irreducible complexity of the thought-process, and it is an attempt to quantify the most primal developments of the human cognitive experience by making a metaphor for life out of the human’s first experience: their birth (which was largely inspired by Viennese psychiatrist, Otto Rank’s seminal work, The Trauma of Birth.)
First Basic Perinatal Matrix: BPM I — Primal Union of Selfhood and Universe/ Amniotic Union of Mother and Child
Second Perinatal Matrix: BPM II — Expulsion from Paradise/ Cosmic Engulfment/ Onset of Mother’s Birthing Labor
Third Perinatal Matrix: BPM III — The Death-Rebirth Struggle/ Karmic Interplay/ Dynamic states of Labor in Action
Fourth Perinatal Matrix: BPM IV — The Death-Rebirth Experience/ Transition/ Separation from the Mother [leading to Introduction of Father]
The outcome of an individual’s experience during these stages, according to Grof’s research, characterizes the template and foundation of an individual’s COEX systems, which dictates how their unconscious mind will readily perceive and register archetypal symbolism.
These COEX systems represent the most accurate representation of what ancient thinkers were trying to impress with the concept of “karma,” a link that Grof has acknowledged of his research. Having much less to do with some sort of supernatural force that “puts someone in their place,” karma is action—it is habit. Brain states become character traits and the same brain states used to conduct negative actions towards others will inevitably be the same brain states used when trying to interact with the self—it is a double-edged sword.
Lastly, I provide an afterthought of modern historical context for the reader. It should be noted here that I have not and will not be advocating the research of people like Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, et cetera. When dealing with psychology and psychiatry, research inevitably deals with doctorates, institutes, funding, and other useful pieces of information that can imply larger pictures to the research. Things like the Esalen Institute, for instance, are acknowledged to be instrumental in the rise of the New Age movement in popular culture and the following names are known to have been guest speakers at Esalen throughout the years: Joseph Campbell, Stanislav Grof, Deepak Chopra, Terence McKenna, Ken Kesey, Albert Hofmann, and Aldous Huxley. While I highly respect the work of Joseph Campbell and find interest in the work of Stanislav Grof, I cannot say that I would ever recommend any of these other sources to anyone. I have already stated before that my research is in fundamental opposition with the whimsical fallacy of New Age. There is also a heavy thread of extremely liberal psychedelic promotion throughout Esalen and the New Age movement, something that I am wary of and tend to disagree with most of the time, but this will be discussed further throughout this novel. Truly, I don’t necessarily recommend that anyone allow things like the Esalen Institute to provide them with their research on a silver platter. We should all simply follow wherever the evidence leads.
Now that the adaptational and anthropological underpinnings of spirituality have been analyzed, among other things, the next chapter’s attention will be focused on the moral and ethical dilemmas of ideas like God and Satan, and salvation and damnation—ideas that are most influential to the Abrahamic religions yet can be seen throughout any given spiritual doctrine in one form or another. The more classical and esoteric diagrams of God and the Devil will be analyzed through their original and more naturalized forms: the Trees of Life and Death. Aside from taking these things literally, what might be found when approached from the scientific angles of analytic psychology, memetic adaptation, and anthropology?
Chapter Three Coming Soon…
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Brown, Jane K. Goethe’s Allegories of Identity. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2014.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton University. 2004. First published in 1949.
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Frankl, Viktor. The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy. Vintage. 1986. First published in 1946.
Goethe, Wolfgang von. Kaufmann, Walter (translator). Anchor. 1962. First part first published in 1806. Second part first published in 1832.
Grof, Stanislav. LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious. Park Street. 2009.
Grof, Stanislav. The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. Harper One. 1993. First pubished in 1992.
Hall, Manly P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Reader’s Edition). TarcherPerigee. 2003. Originally published in 1928.
Irvin, Jan. Logos Media. https://logosmedia.com/SecretHistoryMagicMushroomsProject#HowDarwinHuxley 2012.
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