Mythopoetic Imagination

“My soul, my soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you–are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again….

Do you still know me? How long the separation lasted! Everything has become so different. And how did I find you? How strange my journey was! What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you again, you long disavowed soul. Life has led me back to you. … My soul, my journey should continue with you. I will wander with you and ascend to my solitude.” – Carl Jung – The Black Book

“Now let me dare to open wide the gate / Past which men’s steps have ever flinching trod.” – Goethe

Carl Jung used mythopoetic imagination to describe his inner explorations of his unconscious mind. This term was coined by Jung. Humanity has a rich heritage and history of mythopoetic writing. What is it? From Liber Primus of Liber Novus: Seeking Visions in the Desert, “I wanted the proof of a living Spirit and I got it.  Don’t ask me at what price.”  I have been studying Jung’s experience, tracing my own over his. I think it is a path within all can and will walk. Jung says in The Black Book, “And I found you again only through the soul of the woman.”

I can only say, I too found my soul again through the soul of a woman. Fitting to share such a synchronicity with the man who coined the word “synchronicity”. His story is my story and my story is your story and yours is mine. Round and round we go. Do we believe all the other stories about us or do we write our own? This is what led me to Jung. Here is a man who has obviously asked himself the hardest questions. He looked in the darkest corners of his own soul and the collective soul of humanity. I see sincerity and life in his writings. He explored the Anima and Animus, Eros and Logos, and the mystery of their conjunction. It is incredible what he has given us through his lucid transcription of what he said are his visions, not contrived, spontaneous visions from nowhere. In a world gone mad with reason, can there still be room for such experience? We must always make room.

Jung found the doorway to vision.  Later in life he called it “Active Imagination.” What did he do, what happened to him?  And what is mythopoetic imagination? Is it delusion, or the doorway to a lost dimension of reality? Is it ultimately subjective, or a reality collectively manifest in human experience? Through the lens of history and our personal experience, using our imaginations, we can tap into similar realms of mind our ancestors have. What have we lost disconnecting ourselves so far from such a direct experience of reality? I will leave it to you to decide for yourself if there is any Truth to our collective or individual visions. I believe there is great wisdom hidden in plain sight within the patterns of our minds and how we see and experience the world around us. Jung felt our collective unconscious was made up of the dead and we are the dead reawakened to try again to solve the riddle of life.

The reality around us seems very stubbornly real and we would collectively agree it is real. Is The Real some point in space? Or is The Real something you are? It can be disorienting and dangerous to leave the ground of the agreed upon reality, but personally I highly encourage it, not to be different, but to find the Truth about yourself. There is no greater use of your time than to seek your source, the source of your own myth. Many have lost their way, quite out loud as well, on the journey to find themselves. It is frowned upon as self indulgent to seek yourself in most organized religions, but that could not be farther from the truth, but as people quiet their minds today, they are finding out things about themselves. Keep it simple they say, well it is not simple and it takes all types to make a rainbow, but it’s a rainbow bridge we must forge together across an ocean of ignorance to get beyond this delusion we call reality today.

All points lead back to the center, true for every mandala every made or life lived.

The human brain appears to be wired to experience the Universe in a direct and some would say, mystical way. You come in contact with the same visions the insane and mystics have often spoken of when you are quiet long enough or in a Zen moment. They can come bubbling up from the unconscious mind when our minds are of all things, quiet! Why do you think we keep ourselves so busy? Mystics have said this is a connection the right brain has to a reality outside of time and space, that enfolds our world we experience here with our senses. Others believe life is a prison to be escaped. All are probably true in part. What is your experience?

Often and it’s mostly metaphorical, mystics speak of our reality as an illusion, a swirl of natural and unnatural energies within a real thing. Einstein called what we all agree is real, a stubborn optical delusion. So, we are the created, manifest thing. The Source was whole before and independent of us, but we are of that. The Mystics say the unconscious mind is our collective consciousness. Jung is a modern educated man who mapped this space and went half mad. You can not cross into the unconscious with just the mind and thoughts of a man or woman. Jung was a Father of modern Psychiatry and Psychology ironically. He opened himself to intense personal exploration. He was trying to understand the visions and insights that he was experiencing spontaneously, but he had to hide much of it with his strange writings. These visions could make sense to a scientist who might explain the common experience is due to the similarity of our brains structure. He did not consider himself a Mystic or Gnostic in the open. Science cannot go any further than the objective empirical facts will let them. Beyond fact is the realm of the mystic floating in an ocean of emptiness and love,  only accessible through direct experience requiring much patience and focus. The feeling of being in it often happens through spontaneous creativity or moments where there is no thought of the self.

Most Westerners today have no direct conscious experience of this awareness or the connections between all things. As a matter of fact, awareness of this aspect of ourselves is suppressed for the sake of law and order. There lies the tension between personal subjective experience and what we can objectively understand about the world. The Mystic goes within where most fear to tread. To the mystic who explores reality through direct subjective experience of it, this is The Way or The Great Work. We are all called to it naturally. This knowledge of the Universe belongs to all of us. Our exploration into our unconscious can be seen in the esoteric and occult writings from across history, especially in poetry and literature from the past. Poetry provides a view of the time from an emotional perspective. Gilgamesh is an awesome epic poem from the ancient past that provides us an example of our most ancient imaginings and struggles. We can clearly see our fear of Death driving Gilgamesh. It was the first great epic poem written down we have that has survived from the ancient past, dated about 2000 BC.

I would propose that mythopoetic writing and creativity is the key to integrating fragmented parts of yourself. We are playing hide and seek with the pieces of our self. Hey, you might find the meaning of life along the way. I sit at the feet of another in this area, Carl G. Jung. He pursued several personal experiments where he explored his unconscious mind. He threw himself into it over decades and recorded his journeys in the Red and Black Books and many other paintings and drawings.

I personally had 2 strong visions recently. I imagined Man and Woman an allegory for the union in the Garden of Eden, but to reenter, I saw man and woman take off a rainbow bodysuit. Just unzipped it and walked in. I knew they were taking off their knowledge. I saw Abraxas, the manifest God of antiquity Good/Evil-Light/Shadow, spinning all the people that have every been into a golden thread through its movement through space and that thread was used to hold the Universe together. I saw these visions very plainly and vividly in my mind before I knew what they meant for me. I followed and researched the symbols and words I found and they led me to other things. We can not be afraid of the visions we have, dark or light. They mean something and are trying to tell us something. We should explore them.

As far as mythopoetic imagination goes, Jung is up there with the most clear voices of Humanity in my estimation. Dante and Blake would be proud, well, they probably wouldn’t be proud, but they would stand with Jung. Jung came into contact with some powerful internal visions he shared through applying the overlay of history to his experience. None of us stands alone, never have, never will. You want to play with Man, come on down to Earth, or play the terrible or loving God in Heaven.

There is no end to this drama.

So do not flee from Abraxas, do not seek him. You feel his coercion, do not resist him, so that you shall live and pay your ransom. The works of Abraxas are to be fulfilled, for consider that in your world you yourself are Abraxas and force your creature to fulfill your work. Here, where you are the creature subjugated to Abraxas, you must learn to fulfill the work of life. There, where you are Abraxas, you compel your creatures.

You ask, why is all this so? I understand that it seems questionable to you. The world is questionable. It is the unending infinite folly of the Gods, which you know is unendingly wise. Surely it is also a crime, an unforgivable sin, and therefore also the highest love and virtue.

So live life, do not flee Abraxas, provided that he compels you and you can recognize his necessity. In one sense I say to you: do not fear him, do not love him. In another sense I say: fear him, love him. He is the life of the earth, that says enough.

You need to recognize the multiplicity of the Gods. You cannot unite all into one being. As little as you are one with the multiplicity of men, just so little is the one God one with the multiplicity of the Gods. This one God is the kind, the loving, the leading, the healing. To him all your love and worship is due. To him you should pray, you are one with him, he is near you, nearer than your soul.

I, your soul, am your mother, who tenderly and frightfully surrounds you, your nourisher and corrupter; I prepare good things and poison for you. I am your intercessor with Abraxas. I teach you the arts that protect you from Abraxas. I stand between you and Abraxas the all-encompassing. I am your body, your and Abraxas the all-encompassing. I am your body, your shadow, your effectiveness in this world, your manifestation in the world of the Gods, your effulgence, your breath, your odor, your magical force. You should call me if you want to live with men, but the one God if you want to rise above the human world to the divine and eternal solitude of the star.”

~C Jung; Red Book; Appendix C.

Philemon

Recommended Readings

Image – Chaos Monster and Sun God – base relief from Austen Henry Layard’s ‘Monuments of Nineveh, Second Series’ plate 19/83, London, J. Murray, 1853

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