Collective Unconscious (cu)

While the sea is the source of earthly life, the symbolic sea of the collective unconsciousness (cu) is the source of our psychic life.  In the sea of the cu are all the images–they are actual energies–that are common to all people on earth, both dead and alive, through the eons:  the Great Mother, God the Father, The Child, The Wise Old Man, and, interestingly, the Tarot cards, to name a few.  Jung works his archetypal theories around these images that reside in the cu.  He spends a lot of time on the Mother archetype.

The cu is a dark place because it is outside our human consciousness.  (Our consciousness, our knowledge, is symbolized by light.)  However, the Hubbel  H0liCOW project estimates the Universe is expanding at about 45 miles per second.  Are we doing that with our minds?

We know for sure the collective unconscious exists when it wants to get our attention.  It sometimes will give us psychological pain–the kind of pain you might run to the professionals for.  This emotional pain, in psychoanalytic terms,  are neuroses.  We won’t go into all that here.  Just know that one way to become conscious is through emotional pain–no pain no gain.

The cu wants to be known by you.  The more fish  you catch from the cu, and integrate into your conscious life, the more real becomes the cu, too.  See?  We can be intentional about it.  The creation of consciousness–making conscious the unconscious–is a great work.  By now, we know some tools to work with.

is honored to present the complete Jung Lexicon online through the graciousness and generosity of its author, Jungian analyst, Daryl Sharp, publisher and general editor of Inner City Books.

The clothbound Jung Lexicon can be purchased directly from Inner City Books.

Collective unconscious. A structural layer of the human psyche containing inherited elements, distinct from the personal unconscious. (See also archetype and archetypal image.)

The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.[The Structure of the Psyche,” CW 8, par. 342.]

Jung derived his theory of the collective unconscious from the ubiquity of psychological phenomena that could not be explained on the basis of personal experience. Unconscious fantasy activity, for instance, falls into two categories.

First, fantasies (including dreams) of a personal character, which go back unquestionably to personal experiences, things forgotten or repressed, and can thus be completely explained by individual anamnesis. Second, fantasies (including dreams) of an impersonal character, which cannot be reduced to experiences in the individual’s past, and thus cannot be explained as something individually acquired. These fantasy-images undoubtedly have their closest analogues in mythological types. . . . These cases are so numerous that we are obliged to assume the existence of a collective psychic substratum. I have called this the collective unconscious.[The Psychology of the Child Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 262.]The collective unconscious-so far as we can say anything about it at all-appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. . . . We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.[“The Structure of the Psyche,” CW 8, par. 325.]

The more one becomes aware of the contents of the personal unconscious, the more is revealed of the rich layer of images and motifs that comprise the collective unconscious. This has the effect of enlarging the personality.

In this way there arises a consciousness which is no longer imprisoned in the petty, oversensitive, personal world of the ego, but participates freely in the wider world of objective interests. This widened consciousness is no longer that touchy, egotistical bundle of personal wishes, fears, hopes, and ambitions which always has to be compensated or corrected by unconscious counter-tendencies; instead, it is a function of relationship to the world of objects, bringing the individual into absolute, binding, and indissoluble communion with the world at large.[The Function of the Unconscious,” CW 7, par. 275.]


Active Imagination, definition

Active imagination. A method of assimilating unconscious contents (dreams, fantasies, etc.) through some form of self-expression. (See also transcendent function.)

The object of active imagination is to give a voice to sides of the personality (particularly the anima/animus and the shadow) that are normally not heard, thereby establishing a line of communication between consciousness and the unconscious. Even when the end products-drawing, painting, writing, sculpture, dance, music, etc.-are not interpreted, something goes on between creator and creation that contributes to a transformation of consciousness.

The first stage of active imagination is like dreaming with open eyes. It can take place spontaneously or be artificially induced.

In the latter case you choose a dream, or some other fantasy-image, and concentrate on it by simply catching hold of it and looking at it. You can also use a bad mood as a starting-point, and then try to find out what sort of fantasy-image it will produce, or what image expresses this mood. You then fix this image in the mind by concentrating your attention. Usually it will alter, as the mere fact of contemplating it animates it. The alterations must be carefully noted down all the time, for they reflect the psychic processes in the unconscious background, which appear in the form of images consisting of conscious memory material. In this way conscious and unconscious are united, just as a waterfall connects above and below.[The Conjunction,” CW 14, par. 706.]

The second stage, beyond simply observing the images, involves a conscious participation in them, the honest evaluation of what they mean about oneself, and a morally and intellectually binding commitment to act on the insights. This is a transition from a merely perceptive or aesthetic attitude to one of judgment.

Although, to a certain extent, he looks on from outside, impartially, he is also an acting and suffering figure in the drama of the psyche. This recognition is absolutely necessary and marks an important advance. So long as he simply looks at the pictures he is like the foolish Parsifal, who forgot to ask the vital question because he was not aware of his own participation in the action.[An allusion to the medieval Grail legend. The question Parsifal failed to ask was, “Whom does the Grail serve?” ]. . . But if you recognize your own involvement you yourself must enter into the process with your personal reactions, just as if you were one of the fantasy figures, or rather, as if the drama being enacted before your eyes were real.[“The Conjunction,” CW 14, par. 753.]The judging attitude implies a voluntary involvement in those fantasy-processes which compensate the individual and-in particular-the collective situation of consciousness. The avowed purpose of this involvement is to integrate the statements of the unconscious, to assimilate their compensatory content, and thereby produce a whole meaning which alone makes life worth living and, for not a few people, possible at all. [ Ibid., par. 756.]

Eros and Psyche: Divine and Human in Love

The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.
-Percy Shelley
Imagination is the instrument of Self Knowledge.
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

If you’ve never experienced the dynamism  of Eros (being struck by Cupid’s arrows) during your life on earth, you’re missing out.  Eros is love, desire, sexual yearning, a condition of creation, a feeling of being alive.  But all Eros’s attributes carry a voltage.  Eros can groove a sluice in your brain, and fry your hair!

Screenshot 2018-01-27 10.33.01
Saint shot by Cupid’s arrow

Carl Jung says Eros creates such exquisite desire, such psychic tension, that it can activate the transcendent function (I call it The Rub), and open up the fastest avenue to the collective unconscious where the divinities reside.   Ecstasy (I think not the drug) can be the vehicle that carries you directly to the archetypal Kingdom of God.  Sure, this is what the religious celibates know.

Did The Virgen feel Eros for God, Himself? How could you not, if it’s God making love to you?

So I’m talking to myself, now.  (Dialogue in journal.)

I want to ask you, why do you feel shame when you feel Eros?  Even if you’re married and the secret vector is towards someone other that your husband, why feel shame?  No, no, you should be nothing but grateful to experience Eros after 25 years of marriage.  You didn’t bring on lust, but a holy rendition of love was given to you.

For Eros is the God of Love, and you are in love with Love!

It’s culturally relevant-and culture clash is one way to ignite the transcendent function-to call Eros, Deseo.  So I do in The WASP and El Curandero. During my field research, in my mind, of course, I thanked Alberto for providing the hook for my Deseo, and thus, the locomotion driving my desirous approach to The Other World (turns out My Other World, at least, was, interestingly, the psyche).  Of course it drove my dedication to the research, too, but that’s a rather mundane topic for this context.

Reynaldo. He was a little famous. I'll tell you here, I fell in love with him. But that's later in another story.
Alberto Salinas, El Curandero 1951-2013

But for god’s sake, I never told Alberto I thought he, was divine.  Although that is exactly how I felt under the force of Eros.  Who wouldn’t feel favored by making love with a god?  That’s the point:  Individuation can be furthered by transferring, instead of concretizing,  the intense yearning for your human to craving the Divine.  It draws you into the realm of imagination where stories are created and transcendence can be experienced.  The imagination, not the material world, is where it all happens.  The sin would be in humanizing Eros before the transcendent function resolves itself; before the opposites–the conscious and the unconscious–unite as in the Greek myth, Eros and Psyche.

The ecstacy of St. Teresa of Avila, Bernini sculpture

But remember: if you are thinking to Individuate by holding the tension Eros creates, you can only proceed by restraining physical consummation.  In this way you feed the desire until you think you will explode.  It’s exquisitely excruciating to hold the tension.  It’s the mystics’ ecstacy.

And finally a warning:  don’t inflate your head by identifying with the deities.  You are not The Virgin.  Nor is he your God.  You are a human becoming more so.  There’s real integrity in that.  You can thank Eros for not knowing anything about orgasms.

I Prayed for a Fight with the Devil, Once

Tender Nino in Alberto with tiny whatshernameThis young girl was not possessed, but she did have evil spirits attacking her.  Alberto seemed to be successful at bringing her comfort and relief.  It didn’t hurt that her father, who loved her a great deal, was there, too.


(excerpted from The WASP and El Curandero)

“I prayed for a fight with the devil, once,” I tell Alberto with as much humility as I can muster.

“Oh?  Why?”

“At the time I felt courageous and strong. Morally superior. Self-righteous.”

“I understand that.”  Alberto sets the repaired cross on the arm of his white, homemade, wooden throne. It’s obvious he doesn’t think that praying for a fight with the devil is so unusual. “And what happened?” he asks.

“Nothing. Well…” I hesitate because I’m embarrassed. “I was surprised the other women at the altar rail seemed horrified. I thought they would cheer for my heroism. And Father Bob asked God to grant me humility. Then he signed the cross on my forehead with his thumb like he was hitting a bull’s eye.”

As we walk back toward the house, I weigh the odds of Alberto understanding Jungian concepts about The Shadow. I decide it is worth a shot because it’s important information when defending my thesis, theoretically.

“I study Jung, Alberto. Jung was a psychoanalyst from Zurich who says that evil is not really evil, but those contents of the psyche which have to erupt, unbidden, into consciousness, because of too much pressure built up under psychological repressions. Jung symbolizes the repressions as “The Shadow.”  In real life, the repressed feelings can come out distorted in the form of a neurosis, maybe even a psychosis. Ideally, if you can channel your emotions appropriately into the light of day, you can become fully human. Otherwise you might end up acting like a demon.”  I listen carefully for Alberto’s response.

“Who is this Jung?  What spirit does he channel?” he asks with what is apparently first time, lively interest. “He sounds very smart. Is he still alive?”

“No. He died in the 1960s. But I guess you could say he helped his patients channel their own spirits.”

Alberto stops under a mesquite tree and looks at me with inquisitive, long-lashed brown eyes.  “You know, I think I could channel Jung’s spirit.  What was his first name?  Do you have any books with pictures of Jung?”

It would be a momentous occasion to see Alberto channel Carl Gustav Jung’s spirit.  So I agree to bring him some books with pictures of Jung, just to see what he can do with it. Alberto continues walking and talking, with me behind him, trying to keep a straight face.

“Emotions are one thing, but The Devil is another.”  Alberto swivels to put a hand on my back to catch me up with him.  “Some ailments, like desesperación and angusto, can be healed with psychology—I do it all the time—but not demon possession.  The Devil and his army of demons are real, whether you believe in him or not.  He’s not a myth like Santa Claus.  I know.  I have fought the demons in person.  Several times.  I’m known as the Exorcist of Edinburg!  Me, Alberto!”  Alberto sticks out his chest.


Now tell me:  who do you think has the most Integrity?

Fr. Bob for dousing my hubris?

Alberto for exorcising demons?

Me, for pushing Jung on the Exorcist?

It depends on the situation.  Alberto probably has more integrity in the consultorio than at my kitchen table.  I probably have more integrity in church with Fr. Bob than in Espinazo with the el viejos.  Because we usually know ourselves best in our own world. The more integrity we have, the less surprises.

But, bottom line:  the one who knows himself the best is the one searching and integrating fragments of himself along the way, broadening his functional integrity with the ultimate result he is comfortable in any situation.

You understand, this all happens above the rim?  Tools are called for.




Introvert or Extrovert?

Take the test


I thought this illustration was interesting, but I should introduce it with the note that an Introvert site presented it.

Jung developed the theory of introvert and extrovert as personality traits, and then expanded his insights into “personality typology.”  This typology considers:

extrovert vs. introvert

sensing vs.  intuition

thinking vs. feeling

judging vs. perceiving


The practical result for today is the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator which is used by many businesses and organizations for pre-employment screening, leadership development, team building, and career counseling.  Oh!  And marriage compatability!

Take the Meyers Briggs Personality Test

There are several sites on which you can take different renditions of the Meyers Briggs.  And there are also many books you can read for more information.  Many books.

Jung devoted one volume of his Collected Works to Personality Types.   Personality Types Vol. 6

Midlife Crisis: The porthole to the second half of life

The beginning of Individuation

“Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
and piece together
the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn,
when the past is all deception,
The future futureless,
before the morning watch
When time stops
and time is never ending.”

T.S. Eliot, ‘The Dry Salvages’

Let me say one thing first:  If you are younger than midlife, and you’re reading this, I warned you!  You must first ground yourself with firm feet, and devote yourself completely to life so that you are a vitally living member of society.  You must situate and strengthen your ego in the outer world, before you take on the tugs of the second half of life when your soul will grow legitimately curious about your inner world.  If you find it almost impossible to do this, you might check out a recovery program.

Let me say another thing second:  If you’re happy in your fishbowl, you do not have to leave it.  You do not have to quite your job, take on an, leave your spouse, or drown the kids.  Anyway the kids already live in your fishbowl.  As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Some say Individuation is a calling.

Now for the story…

Fish Bowl Coloring Page Printable Make Color Cut And Paste Fishbowl | Free Coloring Pages For Kids…Once upon a time, there was a little fishy who was born and raised in a (name your own fishbowl).  He learned his lessons, and his manners, and did everything the grownups told him to do, for he was a good little fishy and he wanted to remain in the fishbowl–not go to hell.  When he was thus prepared he was ready to step out of his fishbowl castle home.  He went to college, got a job, got married, bought his own castle home, and had kids.  He worked very hard, for he was a (name your brand) fish now.  And (name your brand) fishes’ lives require the exact accoutrements to decorate the house, the wife, and the kids.

Then the day came when being successful didn’t consider into the fact the 1-ton weights on his feet made it difficult to step into the circuit of his normal routine.  He felt stuck in his job, stuck in his marriage, and stuck with responsibility for everybody.  He felt like he was stuck in hell.

“How can this be?  I’ve lived my life so perfectly,” he puzzled.

Here’s the deal:  His entire life has been prearranged by prescriptions and proscriptions.

Anthropologists focus on one particular definition of prescription, in opposition to proscription.   Behaviors prescribed by a society are expected to be enacted; proscribed behaviors must be avoided.

He started drinking too much.  He became distant, disinterested, and disintegrated.  He started wailing inside his head while trying desperately to walk the straight and narrow of pre- and pro-scriptions with the 1-ton weights on his inebriated feet:  “Who am I?”  “What am I?”  “Where am I going?”

“What is the meaning of life?”  Existential crisis

This is where the story starts getting good.