Jungian Archetypes of the Mythic Unconscious
Adapted from Edward. R. Edinger’s The Eternal Drama: The Inner Meaning
of Greek Mythology. And Jung’s intro to Man and His Symbols
- Read excerpt
of 1st chapter: What Is
Cosmogony: Myths of Creation
- Several versions
of how the cosmos came into existence (Bible has 2 books of Genesis, which
tell somewhat different stories)
- Simplest story:
Out of Chaos, the earth (Gaia) emerged and gave birth to the Sky
(Uranus), and together they created their progeny.
- Indicates that the creative act itself
involves exposure to chaos.
- Creation means
that something new came into the world that didn’t previously exist.
- Chaos is the
womb of all things yet to be.
- Nothing new
can emerge until one is willing to reach into the chaos and pull it out.
- Process of
splitting/bifurcation then occurs.
- Process of
achieving consciousness involves a splitting into opposites.
- Things can
remain in a state of oneness only in the unconscious.
- In consciousness,
they must divide into opposites
- Then we have
the experience of conflict.
(the tree of knowledge of good and evil) creates through a tension of opposites,
the force of which keeps all dynamic systems activated and morphing, ever
becoming new through this tension of opposites.
- Heraklitos, the pre-Socratic
philosopher, posits that strife is the eternal creator. All is always becoming. Nothing ever truly is. The logos sets
it all in motion and gives birth to the order that emerges through chaos.
Thus, as Heriklitos so eloquently puts
it, “One can never step twice into the same river.”
Not only is the river changed, but you are changed as well.
- Plato also
embraces this idea, but for him, the material/physical world is always in
a state of flux. For him, logos
means quite the opposite of what it meant to Heraklitos (also spelled Heraclitus).
To Plato's mind, Logos constitutes the world of Form where Truth
expresses a state of immutable Oneness.
- Carl Jung
then takes this idea and broadens it to describe the “Collective Unconscious”
that he considers the metastructure, or the architecture, of the psyche.
This collective unconscious, Jung believes, is the mythic structure
that provides the foundation of consciousness. His writing explores how people from all
times and all places share core myths that become the underpinnings of consciousness,
culture, and communication. For Jung,
these archetypes comprise the mythic unconscious and express themselves
in our dreams and in the stories we tell (think literature, fairytales,
movies, news, etc.). Stories that have an archetypal structure strike a
chord in our conscious lives as well as in our unconscious minds.
“We are the stories we hear and the stories we tell.”
- Early mythology
is peopled with kings paranoid about losing their power who feel compelled
to destroy whomever threatens to usurp the throne,
even if it means devouring their own offspring. Likewise, many siblings compete for power,
and in their efforts to seize power, demonstrate every sort of travesty
always backfires ultimately, though. It
works in the beginning but soon becomes too much, and a hero emerges to
right the wrong.
- Uranus imprisoned
his children (The Titans and Cyclopes) because he felt they posed a threat.
giant race with one round eye;
- Titans: giant
race overthrown by the Olympian gods.
- Gaia is upset
by their imprisonment and encourages her son Kronos
to revolt against his father, Uranus.
- Kronos waylays Uranus
and castrates him.
- The drops
of blood that hit the earth become the Erinyes/the Furies.
- The genitals
that fell into the sea give birth to Aphrodite,
goddess of love.
- The Cyclopes’-- with their one round
eye and burial beneath the earth-- represent a psychic aspect that has not
yet split into doubleness. The
roundness suggests a certain primordial wholeness (repressed by Uranus).
of Uranus’s castration: birth of
desire (Aphrodite) and punishment (Furies).
and the castration complex: The son
wants to supplant/overthrow the father and claim his power/authority.
- This overthrow
is necessary because power seeks to perpetuate itself and to eliminate all
threats to its authority. Parallel
to the psyche, an age-old principle must be overthrown before growth and
change can occur. (Remember culture-epoch theory?)
- The newly
emerging power must overcome the outmoded or oppressive power and, ironically,
becomes the new oppressor with his own power issues, which will eventually
cause him to abuse his authority and lead to his own overthrow.
This is the dialectic process at play once again:
The thesis is opposed by its antithesis, bringing about a synthesis
of the two, which then becomes the new thesis, and on and on it goes (Socrates'
dialectic method, Hegel’s historical dialectic, and the Communist
Manifesto come to mind).
- Kronos, when told
by an oracle that one of his offspring would depose him, tried to circumvent
the event and began to swallow all his children as a means of forestalling
- ZEUS is the son
of Kronos and Rhea. Rhea tricked Kronos
so that he wouldn't devour her newborn infant, Zeus. She replaced the baby
with a stone, which Kronos then swallowed, thinking he'd done away with
his son's potential usurpation of the royal power. Rhea then hid her son
on the isle of Crete until he was strong enough to challenge
his father. Ultimately, Zeus returned to overthrow his father and instituted
a changing of the gods. In Jungian
depth psychology, this exemplifies how a whole dynasty of psychic authorities
must eventually be overthrown by a new ruling class.
- The devouring
parent is an image universally encountered. In this case, the oracle told the father
that he would be overpowered by his son, so he takes drastic measures to
avert that disaster. However, as
the Greeks tell us in myth after myth, story after story, the oracle’s truth
will always come to pass—there’s no escaping it. Fate will out, and as Jung says, “You meet
your destiny on the path you take to escape it.”
- Kronos, a Titan,
was cast out in a war between the gods and the Titans.
- Two other
noteworthy Titans: Prometheus (literally means “forethought”)
punishment for losing the war was to hold up the Earth-- forever.
- Titans became
sacrifices for humanity’s well being. In psychological terms, the archetypal
contents that these meta-structures represent went into the service of the
- Prometheus, still rebelling
against the pantheon of gods, sides with humanity and gives humans fire
in the bargain. (Remember that fire
is the primordial technology that distinguishes humans from animals.
[You could argue that animals make art or that they experience love
or even that they speak their own language, but animals never make fire. Remember as well, that fire kindles our
love affair with technology as the basis for our other creature comforts.]
was assigned to supervise the separation of the sacrificial meat to determine
which part should go to the gods and which part to humans.
- Before this
time, gods and humans had eaten together, so the myth goes, but now the
new races of gods and humans eat separately. Psychologically, this demonstrates the
separation of the ego from its archetypal origins.
deceives the gods by wrapping the bones and gristle into an enticing package
of skin but leaves the nourishing meat for humans.
- Zeus punishes
humans for this duplicity by depriving them of fire, but Prometheus steals
fire and is finally punished by being chained in the Caucasus Mountains
where his liver will be eternally eaten away by a bird of prey each day
(some say a vulture while others say it was Zeus’ eagle) only to have it
grow back each night, and so forth and so on for all eternity. Eternal recurrence…
- This myth
tells of the nature of the emerging consciousness:
there is the separation of what belongs to gods and what to humans—the
ego gaining nourishment/energy for itself;
humans gain fire—light and energy: consciousness
and the effective energy of will to carry out conscious intention are
- The price
to pay for this violation (because of the acquisition of consciousness,
which occurred as a direct result of meat and fire/psychic nourishment
and energy) is that by day (the time of light and consciousness), Prometheus
suffers his eternal wound. Therefore,
consciousness can be seen as inflicting the wound, which means that
Prometheus pays for human consciousness with his suffering (much like
Christàa lot of ink
has been spilled on this parallel).
For, Prometheus so loved the world that he sacrificed himself
to promote human development. Sound
- As another
tangent of this myth, Prometheus was also punished indirectly by the punishment
meted out to his brother, Epimetheus (literally
means “afterthought”), who received the gift of Pandora (or should I say
the “booby prize”?) Pandora literally
means “gifts given by all the gods.”
- Pandora myth:
Zeus took revenge on Prometheus by sending an evil which would counterbalance
the benefits of the gift of fire. He
told Hephaistos, the craftsman god, to create a maiden, his
most beautiful creation, a woman who would be invested with gifts from each
and every god. Athena taught her
women’s work (Athena is goddess of weaving, wisdom, and war, and is tauted at the cleverest of all the gods); Aphrodite endowed
her with beauty; Hermes gave her a deceitful nature; the Charities and the
Horae adorned her with beautifully delicate clothing,
flowers, and a golden crown. Hermes, the messenger, took Pandora to
Epimetheus as a gift.
Prometheus, still loving humans, locked away in a casket all the
evils that might plague the world. This
was given to Pandora as a dowry. Prometheus
had warned Epimetheus not to accept any gifts from Zeus (beware
of Greeks bearing gifts), but Epimetheus forgot
and married Pandora. Remembering
too late his brother’s warning, he forbade Pandora to open the box. One day her curiosity got the better of
her and she opened it, releasing all the scourges to humankind. Only hope remained. Some say it was Prometheus who gave humans
desire and wild hope. The myth tells
that before the arrival of woman/Pandora, men lived without evil and hardship.
With her coming, they fell from grace and have suffered ever since
in a dangerous and unhappy world.
- Pandora and
fire are somewhat equivalent in that fire is energy and one of the aspects
of energy is desire. Pandora becomes
the object of desire. As the ego
is given the powers of desire, will, and longing, it also receives the contents
of Pandora’s box: the sufferings of human life.
(Note the parallel to Adam & Eve). Being born into ego consciousness is both
blessing and curse, with joy and suffering going hand in hand.
- As described
in these myths, the unconscious state is paradise, and the expulsion from
paradise (the archetypal primordial, undifferentiated unconscious, as represented
by the creator gods and goddesses) is the equivalent of birth into the ego-conscious
state wherein suffering and strife work to develop the individual Self (remember
Heraklitos' idea of strife as the creative force).
then, becomes the consciousness-bringing principle itself.
- In Aeschylus’
Prometheus Bound, Prometheus says
that until his interference in the affairs of humankind, they wandered aimlessly,
like children, without reason and with no purpose “…until
I taught them to discern the seasons by the rising and the obscure setting
of the stars. Numbers I invented
for them, the chiefest of all discoveries; I taught
them the grouping of letters, to be a memorial and record of the past, the
mistress of the arts and mother of the Muses. I first brought under the yoke beasts
of burden, who by draft and carrying relieved men
of their hardest labors; I yoked the proud horse to the chariot, teaching
him obedience to the reigns, to be the adornment of wealth and luxury.
I too contrived for sailors sea-faring vessels with their flaxen wings….”
He also gave them divination, medicine, metallurgy;
in short, all the human arts are from Prometheus.
- Mythic parallels
can be found in Greek, Hebrew, and Christian stories.
- There is
an advocate in the archetypal realm, whether it be
Prometheus, Christ, or Isaiah to assist the ego in overcoming the isolation
- Two main aspects
of the psychological meaning:
- 1) consciousness is accompanied by suffering
- 2) the ego doesn’t
have to do all the suffering alone.
CHAPTER 3: OLYMPIAN GODS
- Early civilized
minds took it as self-evident that there were beings who were immortal and were fundamental, guiding sources
- In psychological
terms, they can be seen as inhabitants of the collective unconscious, which
are, in turn, expressions of the archetypes.
are the psychic entities that continue to exist unchanging and unchanged
while the momentary individual egos come and go. (Plato’s physical world of becoming and
the spiritual world of Being come to mind. Plato also speaks of a connected consciousness
that interpenetrates all human psyches, and he therefore contends that all
knowledge is merely a re-collection of what we already know and have know since the birth of our individual souls from the
womb of the original source/Form.)
are the fingerprints of what Jung calls the collective unconscious. They form the deep structures of the mythic
psyche (Greek word that literally means, “the breath
of life”). He argues that these mythic
structures/archetypes keep us all connected to primal symbols and memories.
experiences that illustrate some basic and universal feature of the human
psyche turn into myth, so there is, in a certain sense,
an interchange between history and myth.
egos live out historical processes whereas archetypal images exist in a
mythological dimension that penetrates, permeates, and transcends all individuals
at all times in all places. This
psychic bond is based on archetypal images and symbols.
- These mythic structures then unify all humankind
in a primal knowledge whose truths are revealed in the highly interpretive
language of symbol and image. These
mythic forms are the ever-veiled and eternally revealed wisdom of the collective
unconscious… the interpersonal, transpersonal, collectively shared psyche.
(Think: Plato’s “Ideal Form”).
The collective unconscious, in essence, bonds single cells into one
organism whose whole is more than the sum of its parts.
All peoples at all times have shared identical images in dreams and
stories and spirituality. The details
differ, but the story remains the same.
(The Virgin birth, for example, or the holy trinity/triple goddess are common to many religious traditions.)
- Iliad gods and
humans are active on the same stage. Literally,
gods and humans were both bodily present on the battlefield.
Gods pick their favorites, as well, and then fight one another vicariously
through these “heroes.”
- In psychological
sense, we can take this interplay between humans and gods to be the interpenetration
between ego experience and archetypal factors signified by the gods.
In other words, the nature of psychological experience is that our
actions and experiences are constantly shaped and supported by archetypal
urges and powers.
- Numbers can
also be symbolic. Plato and Pythagoras
and Einstein agreed that number is the highest possible expression of truth.
- Today’s philosophy is brought to you by
the number 12. 12 Olympian gods,
the pantheon (“pan”=all, “theo”=gods); 12 hours
of day & 12 hours of night; 12 tribes of Israel; 12 apostles of Christ;
12 signs of the zodiad; 12 labors of Heracles.
- 12 is related to the symbolism of wholeness, to the mandala and the quaternity, and is
often associated with sacredness.
- As the ego
looks in the direction of the Self, the transpersonal center of the psyche,
it tends to experience the Self not as a unity (at least not at first) but
as a multiplicity of archetypal factors that one can think of as being represented
by the Greek gods.
- Seen as one
unity: the pantheon. From the viewpoint of depth psychology,
the gods stand for the archetypes, the basic patterns within the human psyche
that exist independent of personal experience.
We all have all of them
present, and it is in our best interest to honor all of them at appropriate
times and in any given situation because without this balance we run the
risk of overidentification with one element and thereby do violence to all
the others. In turn, this sort of extremism throws our psyche out of whack
and we can only see one facet of ourselves and the world.
- Hubris is a Greek word which is usually
translated as "overweening pride" or "the pride that goeth
before a fall" and comes from a verb meaning "to do violence to
the gods." It is hubris that ultimately brings about the fall of Greek
heroes because their arrogance insults the gods and disrespects their turf.
There are lots of myths that deal with this theme and many that show what
happens to people who worship only one of the gods to the exclusion of the
others. Balance for the Greeks is key to happiness and harmony.
- The gods/archetypes
are templates on which the individual life is formed.
Mythologically, these eternal patterns
are thought of as gods, existing in a special place apart from ordinary
human experience (whether it be heaven, Mount Olympus, or the sacred
mountain). Whatever the identification
or description is ascribed to this “special place apart,” it remains a realm
beyond the personal.
- Yahweh (YHVH)
in Hebrew mythology: a sky god who inhabited Mount Sinai, which was quite similar to Mount Olympus as well as
the heaven of Christians and Muslims alike.
- The abode
of the gods generally has a perfect, eternal, untarnished quality (i.e.,
streets of gold).
the Olympian realm is a projection onto the outer world of an inner state—a
state that is eternal, unchanging, and a realm of spirit as opposed to matter.
- Olympian existence
emphasized the misery of mortality.
- There exists
an eternal psyche (or something symbolized by an eternal psyche)
that is of greater duration than the ego.
- For Jung,
the collective unconscious is analogous to the abode of the archetypes/gods.
In his purely psychological views, the heavenly realm of the Greek
gods is seen as apart of the human psyche, which is beyond time and space
and beyond the control of the conscious personality.
- The Olympian
gods, then, can be understood as translations of
psychological realities into externalized realities.
- The twelve
gods chart the eternal or impersonal dimension of the psyche.
The Greek pantheon forms a set of archetypal principles, and we can
thus talk about an Aphrodite principle, a Zeus principle, an Ares principle,
the same as Nietzsche delineates in his discussion of the Dionysian and
Apollonian principles in his essay, “The Birth of Tragedy”
- We observe
and experience these principles in different ways, but they provide us a
means of making meaning. Without
these unifying principles, we could never hope to communicate. (Keep in mind that one of the major distinctions
between humans and animals is that humans are capable of symbolic thought.)
- We observe
these archetypes and principles in others, recognize them in ourselves (if
we are at all self-reflective), and encounter them in our dreams.
- The closer
we come to approaching our individual state of wholeness (what Jung calls
individuation), the more likely we are to have had at least brief encounters
with most, if not all, of these divine principles, for all humans contain
within themselves these deeply imbedded psychic structures; we all contain
within our psyche traits analogous to the Olympian Pantheon.
The Greek Pantheon: a holy trinity & paternal authority principle—>Zeus
+ Poseidon + Hades
ZEUS= The ultimate authority ruling over the three-fold
paternal authority principle, made up of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades—who can
be seen as different manifestations of the same basic principle).
- Sky god, supreme deity, comes closest of all the members of
the Pantheon to embodying the whole Self, even though he represents only
the masculine side.
with wind, rain, thunder, lightning, Zeus is master of spiritual phenomena
since the spirit world is signified by the sky and the will of the gods
by the manifestations of the weather.
is divine agent of justice and judgment, embodiment of law, punisher of
transgressions (hurling thunderbolts)
energy, which sought to fertilize/impregnate (through rape when he met resistance),
and sought conquest after conquest. An energy continually striving to realize
new consciousness and new fruits of itself.
- Hera, his wife
and sister, jealous of his numerous love affairs with mortal women, fiercely
opposed him, exacting revenge on the women he had sex with. She’s the feminine embodiment of the Self.
She teaches women the same lesson the gods teach heroes and villains
alike: when you overstep the boundaries between
human and divine realms, whether as the perpetrator or the victim, there’s
hell to pay!
- Every gain
of the ego must be paid for by punishment for having appropriated the divine
energy. This psychological fact is
seen time and again in the consequences meted out to Zeus’ mortal sex partners.
- The same archetypal
dynamic can also be seen in the union of the divine and the human that occurs
in the Christian world: the Annunciation, or the announcement by the Holy
Ghost to Mary that she was pregnant.
- Zeus and Hera are counterbalancing, married opposites that function
in an eternal reconciliation of tensions: Zeus’ role is to create, to generate as
many offspring as possible by as many different mothers as possible; Hera’s role is to resent it and attempt to frustrate
and punish individuals who succumb to Zeus’ desires. Note the parallel in the book of Job where
Yahweh is divided against himself, the other part of him appears as Satan.
- Here you can
see the ambiguity in the world of archetypes. Value neutral, the archetypes are not interested
in the comfort and well-being of the human ego but are more interested in
something beyond the individual’s ability to value or understand.
- Imagery of
Zeus strikes a strong parallel to the first hexagram of the I
Ching (the ancient Chinese oracle). Zeus embodies pure yang energy-- primal
creative power, which is light-giving, active, strong--whose
essence is the power of energy and whose image is heaven.
- As this principle
appears psychologically, it can be seen as masculine, self-righteous, moral
authority, vengeful of transgressions. If a person falls into unconscious identification
with this power principle, he will find himself acting and reacting as though
he himself were the Law, the ultimate authority. On the other hand, making an objective
connection/association with this principle rather than falling into identification
with it, can lead to the capacity for objective judgment and appraisal.
The way these archetypal powers manifest in our psychology is a matter of
degree and balance. The key is to recognize and utilize them without establishing
an all-consuming, fixating overidentification with that particular element
or principle. (Aristotle calls this the "Golden Mean" and Greeks
such as Pythagoras express this idea mathematically as the Pythagorean rectangle
or the golden spiral. This mathematical expression is seen everywhere in
nature and can be seen as the archetypal balancing act of the universe.)
- Zeus is the
personification of law and judgment, suggesting that human principles of
law and justice arise from deep within the psyche.
POSEIDON—brother of Zeus, also an authority
principle, but signifies authority from below rather than from above. Lord of the sea but has dominion over the earth.
Poseidon the earth-shaker brings earthquakes and tidal waves.
ruler of the sea, is an earthy version of Zeus; manifested from either the
unconscious depths of our psyche or from outer circumstance.
- Felt in the
earthly impact of concrete life events beyond one’s control. Embodiment of the urge for retribution.
- I Ching parallel: hexagram 51—The Arousing (Shock, thunder)=the Poseidon principle. Yang line develops below 2 yin lines and
presses upward forcibly. This movement
is so violent that it arouses terror. It is symbolized by thunder, which bursts forth from the earth and by its shock causes fear
and trembling. This is the inner
earthquake of fear that imbues a reverence for god. The superior man is always filled with
reverence at the manifestation of god; he sets his life in order and searches
his heart so that people will not harbor any secret opposition to the will
- When life
events shake your emotional or psychological foundations, dreams may include
images of storms, earthquakes, or tidal waves, which serve to activate this
- The Poseidon
personality would have some similarities to the Zeus personality, but this
authority and effectiveness would be more apt to manifest in terms of concrete
power—political and economic—as opposed to intellectual or spiritual power.
HADES—lord of the underworld & 3rd
aspect of the triad authority principle.
- Shares with Hermes the role of leading one into
the unconscious, the Underworld (psychopomp).
- Practically the only myth associated with him
is his abduction of Persephone, Demeter’s daughter and his absconding with
her into the realm of the dead.
- In later imagery, he becomes the personification
- A.K.A. Pluto, a name that associates him with
- Hades, in inner terms, was thought of as the
lord of the nekyia
(journey to the Underworld), and so was thought of as the ruler of the phenomenon
of death and rebirth, the function he served in the Demeter-Persephone story.
(Think about how creation and destruction, life and death and rebirth
happen throughout your life. You must die to the old in order to be born
again into the new. Once again, remember
APOLLO—attributes: sun, light, clarity, truty. Son of Zeus and Leto.
- Represents the principle of rational consciousness,
which many times in numerous positive and heroic figures, has difficulty being born.
- The myth of Apollo’s birth shows how the divine
can come into being in the human realm. No
firmly established ego will grant it refuge but is allowed in where there
is a more tenuous consciousness, a floating existence, which then allows it
to take root and become permanently established.
(The artistic personality.)
- Some say Leto, Apollo’s
mother, was Zeus’s kinder and gentler wife before he married Hera. Others say Leto was
one of his “other women” with whom he carried on.
Either way, the myth has it that Hera, furious
about Leto's pregnancy, sent the serpent Python to pursue her and ordered
that no place on earth where the sun shone should receive Leto
for the birth. Leto was rejected by heaven, earth, and sea.
In one version of this myth, the South wind, Zephyr, carried her to
a tiny island in the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea where she gave birth to twins on a floating
island that belonged to neither land, nor air, nor sea. In a cave on the island of Delos, she had her children.
At Apollo’s birth, the island became rooted.
This is said to have been one of Apollo’s favorite shrines, and legend
has it that as a means of keeping this site sacred to Apollo, no one was allowed
to give birth or pass away into death on the island.
- Apollo killed the Python of Delphi and took
over that oracle, becoming the vanquisher of unconscious terrors.
- Golden-haired like the sun, Apollo shoots arrows
of insight &/or death; he is god of music and the lyre. Healing belongs to his realm, and he is the
father of Asclepius, the god of medicine.
- Muses are part of his retinue—music, history,
drama, poetry, dance, creative arts, all belong to him. Muses are called on to invoke the artistic,
creative imagination to give helpful guidance and imagery.
- Power and virtue of consciousness and capacity
for truth. The opposite would be the
darker, Dionysian side.
- In inner experience, dreams that emphasize light/illumination
refer to the Apollo principle.
generally portrayed with wings on his head and winged sandals.
- Divine messenger analogous to angels (“angelos” is the Greek word for messenger).
- Moves with the wind
- God of revelation, bringer of dreams, guide
of the dark way, psychopomp (leader
of souls to the underworld).
- Depicted in art as the good shepherd, caring
for the sheep/human souls. The later
image of Christ as the good shepherd derives from this image of Hermes
- Aristophanes (the Greek comic playwright) calls
Hermes the friendliest of gods to men.
- In ancient Greece, Hermes was the
god of boundaries. “Herm” is a name
for a pile of stones marking a boundary, but later became a phallic marking
(huge penises) to guard thresholds of buildings.
- Hermes transcends boundaries; god of travelers,
patron saint of merchants; patron saint of thieves (because, as myth would
have it, on the first day after his birth, he stole Apollo’s cattle, thus
transgressing the boundary between mine and yours).
- The Hermetic principle can deceive the Apollonian
principle since Hermes need not always tell the truth; Hermes can be false,
ambiguous, and cunning.
- Hermes is a magician with a magic wand; mediator
between human and divine affairs.
- In psychological terms, he is the mediator between
the personal psyche and the unconscious.
- He is helper of heroes, a guide to secret regions.
- Hermeneutics is the science of the interpretation
of the scriptures, extracting the hidden meaning.
- He is the patron deity of depth psychology because
depth psychology seeks to relate consciousness to the unconscious depths and
create a workable interchange between the two psychic structures.
- Ancient Greeks used to say that when a silence
fell on a group, Hermes had come in to tap another dimension.
- Considered the maker of synchronicity, bringer
of unexpected coincidences, happenings that cannot be rationally explained.
- Hermes personalities are guided by an interest
in the hidden, are carriers of secret lore and things hidden beneath the surface
appearance. They tend to expose the symbolic and dark, transcend
the ordinary boundaries of human understanding.
- Falling into identification with the Hermetic
principle means that someone will compulsively point out his or her interpretations
and will feel obliged to point out hidden references, generally becoming quite
- As the Hermetic principle is encountered internally,
it can serve as an objective inner guide to the unconscious (Virgil was Dante’s
Hermes, his psychopomp through the Underworld).
- In dreams, winged beings associated with the
wind carry a mediating spirit and have one foot in each world.
These are the guides between the two realms of the human and divine,
the conscious and unconscious.
- ARES: god
of war, strife, fighting. His sister
Eris was the goddess of discord.
- Ares principle is aggressive energy.
- Aphrodite’s lover.
- Psychological manifestations of the Ares principle
would be aggression, dispute, combativeness enjoyed for their own sake.
- The Ares personality loves to fight for the
sake of argument and feels most alive when engaged in battle or confrontation.
- Embodies courage, aggressive self-assertion.
Professional soldiers, athletes, trial lawyers, etc. fall into identification
with this principle.
- As an inner experience, the Ares principle emerges
in situations where aggressive energy is required. This spirit can have its good side effects,
in that a certain willingness to fight one’s way out of original containment
or out of original collective identity is a requirement for psychological
- In Homer, Ares is prayed to as bringer of peace,
which is archetypally sound. Unless we have relation to the principle, we
will fall victim to its negative manifestation.
If we could not summon up aggressive energy when appropriate, we will
succumb to it in other ways, such as falling victim to others’ aggression
or to our own autonomous assertive energy that can destroy by emerging at
an inappropriate time. (See Fight Club)
blacksmith of the gods; master of fire; metallurgist; craftsmen.
- Son of a single parent, as was Athena, and was
rejected at birth by his mother, Hera, because of
his ugliness and lameness.
- He was thrown out of heaven, down to earth (note
parallel to Lucifer in Milton’s
- Only god who has a major relation to the earth,
which became his realm--signifies divine power descending to earth and connects
with earthly reality.
- Foreshadows the incarnation image of god becoming
- Worker in concrete reality, earthbound, and
therefore stands for the archetypal factor that operates within the personal
- Inventor of useful, cunning, and beautiful devices;
- He represents creativity that develops out of
defect or need
("Necessity is the mother of invention.")
- Only manifestation of physical imperfection
in the Olympian realm of perfect specimens.
- Identification enhanced/facilitated because
of human imperfection.
- Psychologically, this indicates that an archetypal
power has entered into personal reality and has brought the creative principle
to the earthly realm.
- Suggests that creativity is born out of a sense
of defectiveness or inadequacy that requires extraordinary effort as its consequence.
- Hephaistos principle breaks into 2 streams:
- artist & craftsman—the artistic principle
- engineer & mechanic—emphasizing utility.
- Alchemists combined the Hermetic principle and
the Hephaistos principle because they were dealing
simultaneously with symbolic, philosophic matters (the Hermetic aspect), and
as they labored over their fires with concrete material, they tapped into
the Hephaistos aspect.
- Hephaistos personality is found particularly in artists and
craftsmen, people who like to work with their hands, with earthy, concrete
manifestations: occupational therapy, practical, empirical functioning, and
craftsmanship of every sort.
OLYMPIAN GODS:ZEUS, POSEIDON, HADES= brothers forming the
authority principle; APOLLO, HERMES, ARES, HEPHAISTOS= four principles
of masculine psychological functioning.
OLYMPIAN GODDESSES: HERA, HESTIA, (DEMETER), APHRODITE, ATHENA,
- HERA= wife and sister of
Zeus and his equal in power, queen of heaven, embodiment of the feminine aspect
of the Self, goddess of wifehood, motherhood, and the rights and power of
- Most of the myths about Hera
focus on her jealousy as an outraged and betrayed spouse.
- Keep in mind that Greek myths were a product
of the masculine psyche, and all goddesses must be considered from that point
- Even so, as much power and effectiveness adhere to the feminine principle as they do to the masculine.
(yin/yang are interdependent)
- Zeus must always take Hera
also carries a grudge toward certain human heroes, particularly Heracles and
Aeneas; however, her combativeness generally has the effect of bringing them
to the peak of their power as a means of rebellion and resistance.
- Even though a myth may couch things in negative
circumstances, the net result is many times a positive development.
- The marriage quarrels between these two represent
the tensions and conflict between masculine and feminine principles; it also
shows that the masculine principle is not omnipotent and must be challenged
by its opposite.
(yin/yang yet again)
types are regal, aristocratic, born-to-command, assumes the right to be in
principle internally means to make contact with the inner feminine as an authority
to be served, which for a woman is her core experience.
- In a man’s psychology, Hera
represents the authoritarian aspect of the mother complex, against which the
masculine ego must establish itself.
- Is the counterbalancing of the masculine logos
of the sacred hearth, both of the home and of the nation. She drew more
attention in Roman culture than in Greek (called her Vesta).
- Personified the glowing fire on the family hearth,
the natural center of the family and of gatherings of family or clan.
- The domestic hearth was also the sacrificial
altar and Hestia was mentioned first and last in
every sacrificial ceremony.
- Signifies sacredness of being centered, rooted,
and contained in a collective group and in a particular region, a local soil.
- Vestal Virgins in Rome fed an eternal flame honoring
sacred loyalty to family, tribe, city, and nation.
- Associated with home, nativeness,
hearth, patriotism, nostalgia for place.
- Embodies the “geographical soul,” an aspect
of the psyche that has been determined by the geography/culture out of which
one is born. The place that the soul
identifies with most.
- One cannot worship at the hearth of the human
family until one has first worshipped at the hearth of one’s particular locality.
- For the larger and more comprehensive viewpoint
to be authentic, it must be based on a solid relation
to one’s particular origins; otherwise, the group can be nothing more than
the source of alienation.
mother, embodiment of agriculture, specifically grain.
- An entire myth and cult associated with her
grew into the Eleusinian mysteries.
- Embodiment of the nourishing mother, one of
the chief archetypal images.
- In clinical psychology, the nourishing mother
is a double image: implies a mother giving nourishment and an infant receiving it + shift
to devouring mother, reversing the process with the mother being fed rather
than the infant.
- Any woman too powerfully identified with Demeter
who has a compulsive need to nourish, ultimately becomes the devouring mother
since her insistence on feeding and caretaking, whether it is needed or not,
causes her offspring to remain infantile and their potential for growth injured
or completely denied. The mother who
must herself be fed by her children’s dependence on her, in essence, devours
their potential for individual growth and development.
Diana) associated with the moon, twin sister of Apollo, the sun; goddess
of the forest and the hunt, archer who carried a silver bow (like Apollo);
virgin goddess; brought health and well-being to virginal maidens; protectress of childbirth.
- Cold, chaste, quick to be offended by men.
- Lady of the beasts, valuing wild nature more
than human feelings and relationships
- Myth of Actaeon: Actaeon saw Artemis in the forest and watched
her bathe. Feeling violated by this
voyeurism, Artemis turned him into a stag who was
then hunted and torn apart by his own dogs.
- This myth implies that Actaeon ran afoul of his own instincts, his ego not up to
such an awesome encounter with a deity. (It
is always dangerous to stumble over such transpersonal energies unexpectedly,
or when the ego is unprepared.)
- Apollo was jealous of Artemis’ love for Orion,
a great hunter, so when Orion was swimming in the ocean one day, Apollo challenged
Artemis’ competiveness by getting her to hit that
speck in the ocean with her bow and arrow. She thus killed Orion.
- This pictures how relationships can be destroyed
in the Artemis woman because of the jealousy of the spiritual animus (the
masculine principle in the female). It
is as if the Artemis woman has a partner built into her own psyche, which
wants no competition from the human realm.
- Artemis women tend to be efficient, self-sufficient,
and not amenable to personal intimacy.
- As an inner experience, the Artemis principle
appears as an attitude that is coldly factual and impersonal and can be as
aloof and indifferent as natrue.
- The inner Artemis experience will be felt as
cruel because it is indifferent to personal human feeling and is harsh toward
weakness and regressive tendencies.
- Artemis woman is devoid of sentimentality in
contrast to Demeter, who tends to be sentimental and protective.
- In women, Artemis embodies the “survival of
the fittest” principle; in men, we might call her the natural anima (the feminine
principle of the male psyche).
- Artemis woman can be cruel to weakness but helpful
to strength, and so this principle is growth-promoting to those for whom growth
is possible; she will be hated by the regressive aspect of humanity.
goddess of love and beauty; her son is Eros, who arouses passion
by shooting arrows at his victims.
- The 3 Graces are associated with Aphrodite,
whose qualities are grace, seductive desire, charm, and the power of the pleasure
- There are many hazards in her realm.
- One should be in good relation with the Ares
principle of aggression when encountering Aphrodite.
- Entanglement with her can be dangerous, but
so too can scorning her.
Love's just like that!
who was a devotee of Artemis, so valued chastity that he refused Love.
For this slight, Aphrodite cast a spell over his stepmother Phaedra
and caused her to fall passionately in love with him.
Phaedra tried to seduce him, but when he rejected her, she told her
husband, Theseus, that Hippolytus
had raped her. Theseus prayed to
Poseidon for revenge, and Hippolytus was dragged
to his death by his own horses when Poseidon’s bull from the sea frightened
- Aphrodite takes her vengeance against anyone
who has rejected her by involving him in some perverse erotic situation.
- It can also be dangerous to pick her over other
goddesses as Paris
did when he declared Aphrodite more beautiful than either Hera
or Athena, which led to the Trojan War.
- This dissention between the gods and goddesses
demonstrates that there is no easy way to negotiate the process of psychological
- As long as the archetypal powers themselves
are divided, the ego is cast in a tragic role, split by the conflict that
exists in the "divine realm."
- As long as there are multiple principles that
have not achieved a decisive unity, life is essentially tragic.
or foolishness or recklessness will all lead to downfall and are generally
the by-product of overly identifying with one principle to the exclusion of
all others, thereby upending the natural balance. (Whatever is rejected/suppressed
will eventually bubble up with a vengeance.)
- It is only with the unification symbolized by
monotheism and psychologically represented by the Self that there is a chance
to overcome this essential tragedy.
- It is extremely dangerous to equate a woman’s
beauty with Aphrodite’s because some heinous fate awaits those who fall prey
to all-consuming pride (hubris).
- Psychologically, this means that beauty and
its capacity to engender desire must not be identified with but must be recognized
as a divine dynamism. To presume that
beauty belongs to oneself is to identify with Aphrodite or to challenge her
- Pygmalion myth:
- A sculptor who fell in love with the ivory statue
he'd carved prayed to Aphrodite to bring the statue of this beautiful woman
to life. Aphrodite answered the prayer (Aphrodite is identifiable here as
the ultimate life-giving principle,) and reveals what can happen to the imagery
of the inner world if one pours enough energy into it and bathes it in Love’s
Love as the ultimate life engendering/affirming principle.
- Aphrodite is sometimes hailed as the basic cosmogonic principle, the very source of life itself.
(In Greek "cosmos" means "order")
- The symbolism of Aphrodite overlaps with that
of the Holy Ghost. They share the symbol
of the dove.
- In alchemical symbolism, there is a term, “blessed
greenness,” which refers to Aphrodite and her life-giving capacities on the
one hand, and on the other, the spiritually conceiving power of the Holy Ghost
which was thought of as the color green and can be equated with the vegetation
spirit belonging to the life principle of Aphrodite. (Green in Islam also symbolizes Allah’s life
- The Aphrodite woman is easily recognizable in
today’s culture. She functions through
the properties of charm, appeal, and the ability and willingness to give pleasure
to convey subtle, flattering attention.
- For women who identify too strongly with the
Aphrodite function, it is as if the archetypal function lives through her
and she becomes its helpless slave.
- The independent Artemis function can be balanced
by some of Aphrodite’s warmth and charm, and the Aphrodite function can be
buffered by a bit of Artemis’ self-sufficiency.
- The subjective or inner component of Aphrodite
can be seen in an introverted or an extraverted way: Internally, it could
mean the ability to relate to beauty. Externally,
it would encompass the whole principle of Eros, the willingness to connect
with and to be considerate of the other.
- The Aphrodite principle provides us with the
ability to make life-enhancing connections with others.
deity of Athens;
once a fertility goddess, she is usurped by the Athenians and virginized; goddess of weaving, war, and wisdom; cleverest
of all the gods and goddesses; patroness of heroes such as Odysseus.
- Born out of the head of Zeus. As the myth goes, Zeus swallowed Metis (literally means “wise
counsel based on a cunning intelligence”), his first wife when she was pregnant
with Athena. (Metis was one of
the Titans, daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, and
was the one who counseled Zeus to mix mustard and salt into a honeyed drink
and feed it to Cronus to make him vomit out Zeus’
other siblings whom he had swallowed. She
is the personification of Prudence and Insight, and Zeus claimed that after
ingesting her, she gave him wise counsel from within.) The oracle told Zeus
that Metis’ first child would be a girl and that
if she had another it would be a son who would then overthrow Zeus. So, he swallowed her, and one day while walking
beside Lake Triton,
he was overcome by an agonizing headache.
Prometheus, or some say Hephaisots, split
his head open with an axe and Athena leaped forth in full armor.He
then gave birth to her himself.
- Symbolizes the feminine content that is oriented
toward the masculine and particularly helpful to it.
- Athena principle brings about civilization.
- Introduced the plow and olive tree, the supposed
origins of civilized living.
- Helmeted, she is the warrior goddess, but in
terms of strategy not violence.
- Bringer of practical knowledge; quality of wisdom.
- Bringer of wise counsel and victory.
- Psychologically, Athena women (who are also
familiar to us these days) put primary emphasis on spirit and intelligence;
companion and adviser to men, often without erotic involvement; positive relation
to the father and a questionable relation to the mother; skilled at building
bridges between a man’s mind and his feelings; she meets him more than halfway.
- Taken as an inner principle, an aspect of a
man’s psyche, she represents the feminine figure of wisdom, “Sophia”, the
highest manifestation of the anima, the inner spiritual guide, even more developed
than the purely spiritual image of the heavenly Mary.
- An image of woman that can relate a man to his
depths in a profound and comprehensive way.
- Can be thought of as a dynamism toward a certain
kind of psychological achievement or service; the personification of the urge
- Linked both to the Self and to the ego but is
neither Self nor ego/
- An expression of the Self/the greater personality,
but the conscious ego must relate to this urge and act on it to bring it into
- Thus, hero is more than the ego and less than
- Important for the ego not to identify itself
with the hero figure, although most youths tend to do so and to overestimate
the ego’s power (Icarus and invincibility).
- Jung’s definition of the term “individuation”:
- “In general, it is the process by which individual
beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development
of the psychological individual
as a being distinct fromt the general, collective
psychology. Individuation, therefore,
is a process of differentiation,
having for its goal the development of the individual personality.”
- “…characterized by a peculiar, and in some respects
unique psychology. The peculiar
character of the individual psyche appears less in its elements than in
its complex formations. The psychological
individual … has an a priori
unconscious existence, but exists consciously only in so far as a consciousness
of his peculiar nature is present, i.e., so far as there exists a conscious
distinction from other individuals.”
- Individuation and the growth of consciousness,
then, go hand in hand
- Therefore, since consciousness is particular
to each individual, there is no “collective consciousness."