Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Space Odyssey of Projection: Part I January 10, 2012

After my post “Animal Healers” in which I said that we project our unconscious emotions onto animals, a reader wrote, “I am a bit confused about the concept of “projection” within the context of Jungian Psychology. I hear Jungians use it a lot, and I get the concept in general, but only in a vague sense. For example, I understand that we “project” our own subconscious concepts of perfection on our beloved, but I’m unsure what that means. Are Jungians saying that the world we see is simply a hologram of what our subconscious minds expect to and want to see? How do we differentiate between what is existentially in the world from a projection?”

This is a great question and I won’t be able to explain it adequately in just one post, so I’ll continue next time. Projection is one of the most difficult psychological realities of all to understand because we do it at an entirely unconscious level. Your ego believes it is the center of your psyche and that everything pretty much revolves around it. Moreover, it believes it knows exactly what you are doing, and why, at any given moment. To convince your ego that it is mistaken is akin to Copernicus and Galileo trying to convince our forebears of only a few centuries ago that contrary to the evidence of their eyes, the sun does not revolve around the Earth and there is an unimaginably vast universe beyond the bowl of the sky with contents and influences yet to be discovered.

It is no coincidence that during the second half of the 20th century people throughout the world became fascinated with science fiction novels, television shows and films like War of the Worlds, Star Trek, Star Wars, E.T. and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Freudian and Jungian psychology were entering collective awareness in a big way during that era, and a major discovery was the reality of the unconscious self. With our growing awareness of an unknown inner universe came a parallel interest in the outer one.

The idea that we might contain potentially dangerous unknown contents made us extremely uncomfortable. Since these unconscious phenomena were still inaccessible to our egos, we dealt with our anxiety by imagining and exploring ideas about aliens and space ships and planetary wars going on somewhere outside ourselves and the known world. “As above, so below,” as the ancient saying goes. To put it another way, “As without, so within.” Whether or not space aliens are physical realities remains to be seen; but there is no doubt they symbolize psychological realities.

This is an example of projection. Jung said (Volume 6, paragraphs 783 and 784 of the Collective Works) that a projection is a transferral of our own unconscious contents onto another person or object. It is an automatic process that happens to everyone and is not under our ego’s conscious control. When we project our negative unconscious contents onto others we make them responsible for our discomfort, flaws, or problems. This helps us get rid of painful, incompatible contents. We do the same with positive contents of which our egos are still unaware. Then we make those onto whom we have projected them responsible for our happiness or salvation. Thus do we demonize others in whom we see our negative contents and create God-images out of entities, real or imagined, onto whom we project our positive contents. This, of course, is how wars, love affairs, and religions are formed.

Next time I’ll give some examples of what projection looks like in everyday life. Meanwhile you might want to ask yourself who you demonize, who you love, and why.

 

Angels and E.T.’s: The Androgyne Archetype November 7, 2011

The concept of androgyny has appeared in every culture.  Joseph Campbell tells us that the mythologies of both the Orient and Occident share an image of the first being, “who was originally one but became two.” With the cementing of patriarchy and the onset of Christianity, this concept became buried deep in the unconscious. As Jungian analyst June Singer has noted, “The Androgyne has been nearly totally expunged from the Judeo-Christian tradition, for it apparently threatens the idea of a patriarchal God-image.”

But with the increase in psychological awareness in today’s world, this is changing. Today we realize with Singer that, “Androgyny is an archetype inherent in the human psyche….[which] refers to a specific way of joining the “masculine” and “feminine” aspects of a single human being.” One has only to observe the rapid dissolution of gender role stereotypes and the sexual double standard, compare the clothing and hair styles of young people with those of our parents’ generation, or observe how gender-blind young people are in their choice of friends to see that this archetype is making a dramatic reappearance in Western society.

Angels are a  particularly intriguing manifestation of the Androgyne archetype. We see them everywhere: on television, in books and movies, on clothing, and in personal narratives.  According to most accounts angels are genderless messengers who come to point us in healing new directions. They exemplify the very best aspects of psychological and spiritual androgyny.

A projection of the Androgyne which has captured the imagination of the entire planet is space aliens. Whereas those who come to conquer and destroy represent our worst fears, the positive ones —  E.T. and the kindly light-filled beings in films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Cocoon — fill us with awe and hope. Whether space aliens derive from the universe without or the universe within, there can be little doubt that they signal the onset of a massive evolutionary transformation in human consciousness.

Psycho-spiritual androgyny is not about sexuality or gender, but about valuing our inner world. It emerges as we unite the disowned aspects of our masculine drive for self-preservation (developing our individuality) and feminine drive for species-preservation (developing loving relationships). If there were such a thing as pure masculinity and pure femininity, and if we could draw a line between these complementary opposites, every soul would occupy its own unique position on the continuum. Since each soul is unique, all would manifest their creativity differently. Moreover, a person with a fully activated Androgyne would radiate enormous power because consciously integrated masculinity and femininity, both at the top of their energy, is the ultimate power of which humanity is capable.

Leaving stereotypes behind frees us to become what we were created to be and relate openly and honestly to others. Thus, the Androgyne represents our potential to experience heaven on Earth: peace and loving oneness with ourselves, others, and the Mystery of Life.

Can you think of other examples of how the Androgyne is manifesting in today’s world?

 

 
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