Real Jungian Psychology
An offshoot of Freudian Psychoanalysis is Jungian psychology. Carl Jung’s search for a way to explain the psychology of all human beings led him to discuss and explore the collective unconscious and integrate it with conscious thinking to find healing. Jungian or Analytic Psychology has evolved into a whole field of study based on dream, myth and folklore. Jung’s work is particularly important to Wiccans who utilize his work as validation for polytheistic pastoral care.
The Historical Context
Analytic psychology came into the scene well after Freud’s work took off. World War I marked a break in their ideas and thus their friendship while each dealt with the war in their own way (Corey). It became popular with the Counter-Culture movement of the 1960’s because Jungian Psychology emphasized religion and spirituality.
The Major Contributors
§ Carl Jung (1875-1961). The son of a wealthy mother and poor parishioner father, Jung had four siblings and many religious experiences as a child which influenced his later work. A protégé of Freud, he eventually broke off to create a whole new field (Corey).
§ Jean Shinoda Bolen. A modern student of Jung’s work, she suggested that there are many archetypes that make up a person. The collective unconscious is rather like a business meeting, with one archetype at the head of the table, with others present but with varying levels of contribution. The head of the meeting may even change over time (Bolen). Her work is particularly utilized in Wiccan understanding of the psyche.
§ Joseph Campbell. A mythographer who applied Jung’s process of individuation to myths and folklore from around the world to create the “Hero’s Journey”. The “Journey” is used as a form of literary understanding to peel away the layers of meaning in a story to understand culture and understand ourselves.
- Spirituality and religion, rather than logic and science, is the focus for psychological cures and healing.
§ The Big Five
o The Persona : “The Persona is that which we present to the outside world. It isn’t really our selves, though there is a danger we can identify too much with it and believe it to be so. It is a mask. It’s not a bad thing to have, in fact it’s necessary for getting along with others. (Pettifor)”
o Thee Ego: “The ego is the centre of consciousness. It is identity…But it is not the totality of the psyche… In Jungian theory the unconscious is far too vast to ever be made fully conscious, poking about in it is not without danger, yet ignoring it is also a mistake since it leads to a brittle fixedness which at best impedes growth, at worst can break when under the pressure of the ‘threat’ of change.”
o The Shadow: “it is the receptacle for all of that which we have for one reason or another disowned. There seems to be a movement on to ‘redeem’ the Shadow, as evidenced by such books as Your Golden Shadow, but in truth there’s a great deal that’s very, very unpleasant here, since we have good reason for wanting to disown our darker natures. The avenue for an attempted redemption of the Shadow lies in the belief that everything disowned winds up here.”
o The Anima/Animus: The Anima is the female soul image of a man, the Animus the male soul image of a woman. That is the most simple definition, and one which many struggle with, since Jung seems quite absolute in defining a person’s soul image as gender opposite. “Soul image” sounds very pretty, but the Anima/Animus is not without a negative pole as well….. If one is on good terms with one’s Anima/Animus he/she can prove a valuable messenger between the unconscious and the conscious, a connecting link – a veritable Hermes.”
o The Self: “The Self is simply the centre and the totality of the entire psyche. It is the archetype which contains all the other archetypes and around which they orbit. It’s something of a paradox, and extremely difficult for the conscious ego to accept.” (Art credit: Pettifor)
- The Collective Unconscious lies under our personal unconscious, and contains the archetypes and mythical symbols that make up our human psyche. Connection to this in a healthy way is necessary for wholeness. Archetypes are used to interpret observations in the client and are treated according to the archetype. For example, a problem with one’s mother is seen as a problem with the mother archetype, which is addressed.
- Synchronicity—when two or more events happen in a meaningful way to a person, and reveals something about our unconsciousness (Jung, Wolfgang).
- Art can be therapudic and used to release tension and anxiety (Malchiodi).
- Individuation is central to all religion and all healing (Corey).
- Modern Jungian study has taken the form of Depth Psychology.
Wiccans are particularly attracted to this approach because it is accepted by the psychological community as a valid form of understanding the self, and thus a way to validate Wiccan philosophy. It is applied in pastoral counseling to help devotees unravel their dreams and discover synchronicity. Indeed, the practice of magick (active prayer, if you will) is the creation of synchronicity and is understood similar to how Jung defines it. Rather than the archetypes being metaphors, many consider them to be the Gods that actively work in our lives. For example, if I am walking down the street and praying for a sign, and a black dog runs up to interact with me, I would consider this a sign from Hekate, who rules black dogs, and interpret this synchronicity in light of my relationship with Her archetypal form, the nature of my request, and the form of interaction with the dog. Additionally, the archetype is “Drawn Down” or invoked at Esbat (moon) rituals which causes the unconscious archetype to be played out in the conscious and material world. The “Hero’s Journey” is frequently played out in ritual as participants face their shadow sides. It would be interesting to do a study to discover if Wiccan ritual creates more psychologically balanced adults and children.
While Wiccans understand the Anima/Animus, many reject it as being too polar and simplified way of understanding gender. While we recognize that one exists inside the other, the idea that being female equates with passiveness and the opposite of good is hard for many feminists to swallow. Rather, we look again to the archetypes to understand gender, and find that there are many deities who manifest different characteristics of gender: while you wouldn’t call Artemis “girly” in her behavior, you also wouldn’t accuse her of being particularly “manly”, yet she typifies the independent woman—not an effeminate man.
Bolen, J. “Goddesses in Every Woman: A New Psychology of Woman”. Harper Colophone Books. 1985
Corey, G. “Psychoanalytic Therapy”. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. 8th Edition. 2009
Jung, Wolfgang , The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche, New York: Pantheon Books, 1955
Pettifor, E. <praxis.wynja.com/personality/jungarchf.html> 1995.