Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Live the Journey: From Predetermined Fate to Individual Destiny

by Erel Shalit

Jung defines life as the “story of the self-realization of the unconscious. Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions to experience itself as a whole.” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 3.)

The Cycle of Life describes some of the principal archetypal images at play as we navigate our journey through life. In each stage of life, there is an image, or rather a cluster of psychological themes that pertain to that particular period, such as the divine child and the orphan child. Usually, these themes and images do not correspond to actual events or traumata, but reflect internal, archetypal experiences.

The feelings related to being an orphan are universal, and a vital facet of growing out of certain states of childhood; sometimes, however, the archetypal image of the orphan may devastatingly strike a child by the traumatic loss of a parent. Traumatic experiences often cause fixation; the archetypal image becomes frozen in the psyche of the traumatized person, rather than serving as a transitory psychic constellation, eventually integrating into the fullness of the personality.

At times we might find ourselves struck by the disparity between a predominant archetypal image and the prevailing developmental stage, as for instance when we see a senex-child, that is, a child who seems to speak the old person’s tongue, rather than to be dwelling in the world of childhood play. Or, for example, a mother of four teenage children, all of whom thought of her as a ‘child-mother,’ immature and childish. Even when they were small, they felt that she wanted them to be parental children taking care of her.

The archetypal idea of a journey through life is outlined in The Cycle of Life, in which Jung’s theory of the stages of life, as well as other perspectives, are reviewed. A focus on the river of life as an image of the journey helps to illustrate the process of transformation from predetermined fate to individual destiny. Hermes, god of thieves and merchants, souls and roads, will guide us toward the Hermetic aspect of life’s journey, infusing the experience of life with meaning, when graced with those soulful gifts that alter life’s course.

Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Ra’anana, Israel. He is the author of several publications, including Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego, and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return. Dr. Shalit lectures at professional institutes, universities, and cultural forums in Israel, Europe, and the United States.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

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