Image and Archetype
by Thomas Singer, M.D.
ARAS has much to celebrate at the end of 2016. In the past year, we have brought two new, fine features to ARAS Online. The Concordance provides a free way to search Jung’s Collected Works by word and/or topic to find relevant references.
The new “My Lists” tool allows ARAS members to create, organize, and save files of important or relevant images. It is a perfect, complimentary tool for personal dream journals in that it provides a space for collecting amplifying symbolic images arising out of one’s inner life. We also have our wonderful ARAS staff, led by Ami Ronnberg, to thank and celebrate for their extraordinary skill and dedication to ARAS. For this final ARAS Connections of 2016, I want to single out the recent accomplishments of two long term ARAS Board members whose creative contributions to what is best in our psychological and cultural life are unique. Both are dedicated supporters of ARAS in their understanding of the value of symbolic imagery in the development of the human psyche and culture. We are so lucky in having them bring their amazing gifts to our ARAS community.
Thomas Kirsch, who has helped steer ARAS through many stages of development in the past twenty years, has recently completed a remarkable video that features an interview with him by Murray Stein in Jung’s library at Bollingen. The DVD was directed and produced by Luis Moris of Blue Salamander films. It is being distributed by Chiron Publications and can be found at: http://chironpublications.com/stein-kirsch/
I contributed the following blurb for the DVD: Tom Kirsch's fundamental modesty, quiet thoughtfulness, deep knowledge of the Jungian tradition, and direct, finely informed feeling shines through every moment of this extraordinary film. Murray Stein's sensitive and probing questioning allows Dr. Kirsch's exacting memory of people, places, and issues of different eras in his long life career as a Jungian to flow like the film's music - with a warmth and beauty that is both touching and enlightening. The film has a wonderful tone - in its color, in its conversation, and in its depth.
Deborah O’Grady, also a long time Board Member of ARAS, is a distinguished photographer whose most recent creative collaboration has been the making of a visual symphony of Olivier Messiaen’s Des Canyons Aux Etoiles. Messiaen was commissioned to create a symphony celebrating America’s bicentennial. In turn, Deborah was commissioned to offer a 21st century visual interpretation that accompanies the performance of the symphony. Deborah offers two wonderful short video introductions to this project at: https://www.deborahogrady.com/from-the-canyons-to-the-stars/ Des Canyons Aux Etoiles (From the Canyons to the Stars) will be performed at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on Friday, May 12, 2017 at 8pm.
ARAS is most fortunate to have Deborah as a Board Member as she understands in depth through her own creative efforts the power and use of the symbolic image to reveal and explore the inner and outer life in its deepest interconnections.
Please join Tom Kirsch and Deborah O’Grady in offering your financial support to the ongoing work of ARAS which exists and thrives through the generosity of its members. Please click here to donate.
by Thomas Singer, M.D.
Part One: Anima Mundi
Part Two: Flood
Part Three: Ark
Part Four: Treasure
Part One: Anima Mundi
Most of us, at one time or another in our lives, have had Plato’s thought that the world is "a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence.” In James Cameron’s film Avatar, this notion is projected into the future of the mid 22nd century in the form of the "tree of souls" which has the capability of direct neural link with living creatures.
This is a vision of a unified world in which all living things are interconnected through a world soul.
In 1970, when I was finishing medical school, I had such a dream:
I am attending a United Nations session and the discussion is focused on setting up a colossal cistern or water storage facility that will sit on top of the world. Whoever needs water in the world at a given time will be determined by a computer (this was long before computers were sitting on top of the world)—so that water for the whole earth will be regulated and distributed equitably.
I thought to myself, “I don’t like computers very much but maybe they could do a better job distributing water fairly than politicians have done. It was a global watering hole (“whole” as I misspelled it in my dream book, where I also sketched the dream image on page 3).
At the time, I did not think of this as a representation of what Jung called the “anima mundi”. In fact, I didn’t know a thing about the concept. I took the dream quite literally and thought about it in terms of finding a way to actually distribute the world’s water equitably. It was only several months ago, in early 2016, when I was preparing to give a talk in Sydney on ARAS and cultural complexes that a distant memory of the dream compelled me to go back and consult it again.
When we set out on life’s journey we seldom have a real clue about where we are heading or what may, in the background or unconscious, be guiding us. Forty six years after first having the dream, it occurred to me for the first time that a great deal of my creative energy has gone into trying to realize that dream, but in a symbolic rather than concrete way--even though the so called concrete reality of distributing water equally around the world is even more of a dire necessity now than it was then. But, if we also imagine the dream to have a symbolic meaning, the water can be seen as the realm of the creative unconscious and the dream can be seen as promoting the global distribution of life giving, creative energy through visions and imagery originating in the collective psyche—conscious and unconscious. This brings us pretty close to the vision of ARAS whose goal is to share with the world through the miracle of computer technology curated symbolic imagery from all cultures of the world and from all eras of human history. At ARAS we believe that there is a central, symbolic cistern which is the source of life-giving and sustaining imagery/energy that should be shared globally. We also affirm the idea of the anima mundi—of there being an underlying and unifying fluid reality of world soul that may find very different expressions in different cultures and in different eras, but shares in a source of common and deep meaning throughout time and place.
Revisiting the Visions of Christiana Morgan: What was left out of Jung’s ‘Visions Seminars’
by Ilona Melker, LCSW, JA
Anima Mundi, a platonic cosmic principle was re-defined for our times by James Hillman when he called archetypal psychology “bringing the platonic vision down to earth.”1 Christiana Morgan’s visions are bringing our attention down to the body, down to the earth, down to the archetypal feminine. Jung was attuned to the messages in Morgan’s visions and made them a centerpiece of his four-year-long teaching of seminars between 1930-34. In the seminars Jung pointed out that “We have seen how the unconscious of our patient has moved from the Yang principle (platonic) down into the Yin principle (earthy); from the above to the below, and that the whole series of visions demonstrated the “extraordinary difficulty of the transition from one leading principle to another.”2 We are living through this transition today and feel and experience how extraordinarily difficult it is to find respect for our individual body/soul, and a relationship to, and an awe for the earth and her creatures. Nietzsche, whose visions Jung also analyzed and taught in his Zarathustra Seminars, broke under the weight of those visions and the extreme difficulty of living them in the body. Yet, he urged us to return to the body, to the earth through the voice of Zarathustra:
Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue! Let your bestowing love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth! Thus I beg and beseech you.
Do not let it fly away from earthly things and beat against the eternal walls with its wings! Like me, guide the virtue that has flown away back to the earth – yes, back to the body and life: so it may give the earth its meaning, a human meaning!
(Nietzsche, 2006, 57)
Christiana Morgan over the course of nine months recorded some hundred visions and paintings. She began in 1926 at Jung’s encouragement to use active imagination. Her opus grew beyond analysis with Jung and was completed post analysis in 1927. About a third of the visions were considered in the Visions Seminars. Curiously Jung skipped volume two, which was actually part of their analytical discourse and went to volume three which remained marginally explored, incomplete. For a discussion of why volume two was left out please see Melker (2015).3
Morgan’s work is much akin to Jung’s Red Book, although Jung worked on the Red Book longer and with more conscious investment as to its outcome. Nevertheless if Jung’s Liber Novus depicts the rebirth of God by integrating God’s dark side, then Morgan’s visions depict the rebirth of the Goddess to whose numinosity we had collectively lost connection. James Hillman said, “for psychology the issue is not that ‘God is dead’ but in what form this indestructible energy is now appearing in the psyche. What can the psyche tell us about the direction religion might take now? In what images will the major emotional idea of God be reborn. ”
To fully appreciate the difficult journey back to matter and to locate spirit in matter Morgan’s visions provide an excellent path. Although this presentation (from volumes 2 and 3) is very limited in scope I would urge us to study the visions in their entirety, because they are as relevant to us today as they were 100 years ago. Jung himself said to Morgan that her visions “held material for the next two-three hundred years” and that it is a great “document humaine”. It is a rushing forth of all that has been hitherto unconscious”. 4 This presentation is an attempt to awaken interest in unveiling what still remains veiled in the visions. My hope is to publish the manuscripts, make them available for study, discussion and analysis for the insights contained in them.
The Poetry Portal
by Ami Ronnberg
It is during the darkest and coldest time of the year that the stars shine most brilliantly in the night sky. The stars have always guided us and shown the way. Ancient seafarers navigated the seas with the help of the stars. Different stars arrive with the changing of the seasons. Psychologically, we can see the stars as flickering sparks of consciousness within the dark vastness of the unconscious psyche. In the words of Vincent van Gogh stars become prayer: ‘When I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.’
We hope you will be inspired to write a poem about your Star (or Stars) for this installment of the Poetry Portal. Please send your poem to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15, 2017.
We thank all of you who submitted a poem for the last Poetry Portal inspired by the image of Dragon. It is always delightful and deeply moving to read your poems and to share them with others. You can read the poems here.