Monday, April 11, 2011

On Archetypes

Modern magic (and Pagan religion) has on an going in-house discussion about the nature of the Gods and Spirits, and of spiritual existence itself. Some folks assert that the mythic description of the spirits is essentially correct. There is a paralel world - the Astral Plane, or the Otherworld - in which spirits exist as independent personal beings. Others assert that spiritual phenomena - gods, spirits, 'energies' etc - are purely mental constructs in the individual, connected through cultural linguistic contact pur existing only as 'complexes' in the mind. The Jungians go their further step with old Carl's "collective unconscious", itself pretty similar to the astral plane.

In working with a public pagan group that deals with the spirits on a straight-up mythic basis this discussion comes up often enough that I've developed a little model for how the two positions can be reconciled while doing damage to neither. I systematized that nicely in a post to a list today, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

1: The Cosmos is holographic - the whole is repeated within the parts. Especially, the human microcosm reflects the macrocosm.

2: The Gods exist in the macrocosm.

3: Therefor, their reflections exist in each individual human microcosm. These reflections are what Jung perceived as the 'archetypes'.

4: Thus, when we invoke the Gods, and they draw near to us, their reflection draws near to our conscious awareness. Often it is only these internal daemons of the Gods that we actually perceive in our invocations, and that can be sufficient. The Gods act as and in those reflections just as they do as and through an idol of gold. Sometimes we are able to expand our awareness outside of our microcosmic bubble, and perceive the God more directly... Those are the big events...

So, while I dislike psychological reductionism in magic and religion, preferring a directly mythic approach, my model has a nice organized place for Jung's archetypes. Remember, it's only a model...


Linda said...

I pretty much agree with what you say. I see the gods as a part of the greater whole of the cosmos, and we, as humans, tend to perceive that which is reflected within us; thus how we perceive the gods is their reflection within us. It does not negate a separate existence of their beings to recognize the archetypal energy within ourselves.

I think that some people get hung up on that - they think that archetypes are somehow not real, rather than the fact that they are a universal concept of a form of energy or a characteristic or quality.

I appreciate your post :)

Auberon Draenen Wen said...

The biggest issue is, as far as I know, the archetype theory has been refuted.

Peregrin said...

Hi - good post, thanks. I agree with your approach here, and it is in fact the traditional Hermetic understanding of the universe. Thanks :)