October 18 in the frame of the Day of Spiritual Accord, at 14:00 (GMT + 6), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) will host an International conference themed: "Strengthening interfaith and interethnic harmony as an answer to modern world challenges ".
Christa Zettel Journalist, Writer, Mythologist (Austria) Creative mythology as a tool to reshape not only our world view, but also our picture of man, in order to reach a new level of (integral) consciousness Consciousness and Mythology According to Jean Gebser, consciousness is structured in the archaic, magic, mythic, mental and integral conception of the mind. All people (and because of the fundamental biogenetical law, every individual) have to undergo these structures in the course of developing culture. None of these is better or worse than the others, and all contained in the sub-consciousness. The stage for a fundamental change is, however, not the conscious “I” but the sub-consciousness. Whenever a culture (or an individual) is ready for the next structure, chaos erupts, reflecting a psychic crisis, which tends to break down the old order and create a new one.
Such times are described in mythology as a “war of cultures”, accompanied by mass migrations and climate changes, which are always periods of regression in culture, because the ability to adapt to an ecological niche, demanding a new adjustment, requires the entire psychic energy of the people. After the last “Dark Ages” (know as the “Trojan War”), the mental structure was established in Greece, while in the Near East a “new mythology” was transcribed, which became the fundamental psychic structure of the occidental civilisation.
Every religion is built upon a mythology in which the origin is always present, but how the “story of the soul” is described depends on the psychic state of consciousness that a tribe or nation has reached during the genesis of its culture. For the fully developed intellect (mental structure), the archaic structure appears as “primitive”, even as a paradox, because it is located so far back in time that it is nearest to the mysterious origin of the soul. This is the era of the long Age of the Great Mother Goddess, a symbol for the sub-consciousness, in which the “I” is still embedded.
While in the psychic stage of the magic consciousness, man can still have a direct revelation (Greek: apocalypse), he (or she) will be convinced, only he himself (or only his people) can experience it. The following mythical structure allows a religious experience to occur through the feeling of identification with a revelation that includes all people sharing a common mythology. She becomes overdrawn by the mental structure, whose credo is the “either-or” of rationality, a credo that makes it impossible to understand a mythic language that uses archetypical pictures, in which the transcendent state of being shines through.
In the course of the development of the mental (or rational) structure, the longing of the human soul to experience phenomena as non-dualistic, spaceless and timeless, is interpreted by the traditional psychoanalysis (based on Freud) as a longing for “infantile experiences”, which caused Ken Wilber, the founder of an Integral Psychology, to state: To classify the state of being an individual has achieved, after it has fought him- or herself through the whole cycle of consciousness to reach a higher state of being, as infantile experiences, is not only badly simplifying such a state, but also incompatible with individuals who have reached such a stage of consciousness.
So far this might sound purely theoretical, but it is not if one understands mythological figures, as C. G. Jung did, not as mortal humans belonging to a certain time and locality, but as representations of archetypes. Because archetypes structure the emotional dimensions of life, rationality considers them as meaningless. But because they are components of the structure of consciousness, they represent vitally important psychic powers, which are essential for the building of any society. If suppressed or neglected, they disappear in the sub-consciousness, and this has tremendous effects on society.
Dionysos versus Apoll
C.G.Jung’s Quaternio of archetypes is to be traced in all the myths of the peoples. The integral power in the centre of the psychic world is the Lord, who integrates the powers of King and Queen into the Self, accepts and mobilises the power of the other archetypes, Warrior, Lover and Magician, and brings the necessary sacrifices for the benefit of the entire Quaternio.
The Warrior is a symbol for the yang-side of the King, the Lover the yin-side. The Magician, who stands for the being and technology of the material world, also governs the immaterial world by connecting the two worlds, the visible (material) and the invisible (psychic) world, as Shaman, Magus, Alchemist, or Priest. Only the integration of the yang- and yin-qualities of the archetypes leads to a good and wise King, as represented by King Solomon.
In today’s western democratic-society, the role of the male Self (King) is played by governments. Military forces and enterprises represent an important part of the Warrior. University, science, technology and rationality have taken over the tasks of the Magician, while the archetypical Lover, expressed in the arts, is mostly restricted to private life.
If archetypes are suppressed by society, their specific psychic energy is split into “shadows”, manifesting themselves as polarity with one excessive side and one side lacking the necessary energy of the archetype himself. The extremes of the King are the tyrant and the “Softy”, of the warrior the sadist and the masochist, and of the Lover the Sex-possessed and the Impotent, while the excessive polarity of the Magician is “apollinic” and his week side “dionysic”.
In the first extreme of the shadow of the Magician, a technocratic society is recognizable, which believes that she is by nature the greatest, knows everything better, and that it is possible to be absolutely rational and objective (Litaer). Because also the other extreme of this shadow is convinced, that he is in possession of the only possible truth, Norman Brown came to the conclusion that time seems to be ready, that the Mystic can break the glass, through which he sees everything dark, and the Rationalist can break the glass, through which he sees everything bright, to allow both to enter the kingdom of psychological reality.
The formation of shadows of the archetypes and the consequences they have for a forestalled western society, are described in the first original myth of the occident, the story of Tristan and Isolde. Because of her archetypical structure this myth is not a simple Love-story, but the description of the fate of the soul from the beginning of time until the 12th century. As a prototype of modern man, Tristan, the “sad child” (occident), has to fight against the shadow of the King, the tyrannical “Duke”, who murdered not only Tristan’s father, a “good King”, but is also responsible for the death of his mother (Blanchefleur), the sister of King Marke of Cornwall, where Tristan was brought up and taught the virtues of a Christian knight.
Being the shadow of the King (Marke, who has no Queen), the “Duke” with his unappeasable lust for power has only one longing, always to be the greatest “I” in his world, the strongest and the most potent man in the society at any cost, even at the price of his death, which, if necessary, he will extend to the whole world. To defeat him, Tristan can not use the heritage of his mother (the lyric, epic tradition), but has to use his mental weapon, represented by his sword. This weapon he needs also for his next fight against a giant monster, which was created in the course of the history of his people.
Tristan wins also this fight, but is badly injured. His “open wound” cannot be cured in this world, because it is the deep wound in the collective soul of the occident, where the female soul was projected onto a mortal woman, which did not allow the inner union of King and Queen to form the Higher Self. This created a mighty “shadow”, because the Anima can only work to the benefit of man between the “I” and the sub-consciousness, allowing the mind to explore new dimensions of being. Put between the “I” and the world by projection, she tends to overthrow the self of man, using his own weapon, the sword, by flooding his psyche with demons or projections. In the worst scenario she eliminates the “I” (Willis Harman). This is the reason why Isolde is described as the only woman in the world, who can cure Tristan. But at the same time she is the only women in the world, who wants Tristan to die.
On the collective level “the mountain” comes only to the Prophet if “the Prophet” (the inner Magician) can not come to the mountain. To rebalance what is within and without before chaos tears our world apart, Bernard Litaer has integrated the lost Ur-archetype of the Great Mother in Jung’s Quaternio. Her yin form Litaer characterises as the “mentality of need” and her yang-side as the “mentality of greed”.
The important message of the story of Tristan and Isolde for us today is that Tristan does not have to die to be re-united with his “eternal love”, because death in mythology does not mean the same as for the “I”, representing not physical extinction, but a transcendent state of being. What needs to be done, before King and Queen can be reunited, by taking back the projection of the Anima on the outside world, is to transcend the “body-I”.
While the multi-dimensional reality of modern physics has already changed our picture of the world, we also need to change our view of humans and their history of evolution. Only a “new science of evolution”, which covers the biological evolution and the evolution of consciousness (culture) simultaneously, is able to reintegrate the “universal power for self-renewal” in science. This allows a greater synthesis, which becomes possible, after the mental structure has fulfilled her “true task”, to reach the fundamental differentiation and autonomy of humans. When recognised as part of the whole it can transcend it, what brings to the light the opening up of an unexpected higher reality, which could not be understood before, because this is a creative act.