Jung’s Individuation Process
by Robert Clarke
The individuation process involves the expansion of the human personality with archetypal material flowing through from the collective unconscious in dreams. In other words, we may grow as personalities with whatever we experience of the outer world, but true individuation requires the assimilation also of material from the “Otherworld”, as the ancient Egyptians called it. If the individuation process goes to the highest spiritual levels, the Sacred Marriage of God and the World Soul may occur, while from the human angle the initiate may become a prophet of God, or a true priest. He may come to speak to the outer world on behalf of the inner or Otherworld, which is why Moses is the “mouthpiece” of God, and Jesus the “mediator” between Man and God.
The initiate into the ancient Mysteries, whatever the culture, would in his individuation process make his quest through the Underworld, which was, of course, the collective unconscious. (Jung himself admitted his term “collective unconscious” is inadequate for what is essentially the beginning of another reality of spirit and soul. Nevertheless, the modern term “objective psyche” is much more so pathetically and ludicrously inadequate.) In Egypt the initiate received the keys to the Underworld from a god, sometimes Iu-Atum, who was actually Shu, Son of Atum, High God at Annu, the sacred centre, though significantly Shu was in certain aspect representative of the Holy Spirit. Jung received these keys in a dream from a “wise old man” figure he called Philemon, while I received four gold keys on a gold key ring from Jung himself, who was dying, in a dream. I was perhaps therefore meant to continue the work of the royal line of Higher Self developments through the unconscious, as any other initiate would be who received the keys.
In ancient Israel, the High Priest would pass four keys on to his successor, almost certainly based originally upon archetypal experience through the unconscious, carrying the process on from Egypt. Christ passes the keys on to St. Peter, of course, and many centuries later the alchemists said that four keys unlock the gates to the hidden treasure. As said, Shu in Egypt, representing the Holy Spirit, handed the keys to the Underworld to a new initiate, and Jung, who passed the keys on to me, seemed to be in the role of the Holy Spirit in a number of my dreams (although it is perhaps truer to say that the Holy Spirit took the form of Jung). In one dream Jung wore a tam (a round flat hat) that was turned down on four sides to form a square – thus the squaring of the circle. At the end of the dream Jung said, “I’m off to see the Holy Spirit”, leaving me to conclude that the figure was indeed the Holy Spirit taking Jung’s form. This may seem difficult to believe, but it is the kind of occurrence that happens during the individuation process.
The first steps towards individuation involve the unification of ego-consciousness with the shadow, our darker side that is suppressed and repressed into the unconscious (suppression is done knowingly, repression unknowingly) and then unification with what is called the anima (in a man). The anima refers to a man’s feminine side (and the animus to a woman’s masculine side), though male consciousness and female anima are actually separate entities, both being constituent parts of the Self, as with female consciousness and male animus, of course. We see cases where ego-consciousness has become possessed by the anima or animus, where a man has feminine attitudes and mannerisms, and a woman masculine ones. But male and female elements are separate in nature, opposites, from the lowest life forms all the way up to God. The opposite genders may exist together in one creature, but the one is never the other. Male and female each lacks what the other possesses, and possesses what the other lacks, and so each needs the other for wholeness and completeness.
When all is well and the marriage between ego-consciousness and anima, known as the “syzygy”, is achieved, there then follows the birth of the divine child in the process, the first stage of possible attainment of the Higher Self. (The anima is projected onto a real life woman, with whom male consciousness falls deeply in love. The real woman thus plays her part in the development of the Self. Other inner contents may also be projected outwardly.) This means not merely unification between male ego-consciousness and female anima, but also the beginning of a relationship between ego-consciousness and the Higher Self, although all constituent parts must share in the wholeness. Attainment is impossible unless all parts are assembled together in the Self, which is an extremely difficult task for consciousness. The Higher Self is the epitome of wholeness, which is why its main abstract symbol is the mandala, the centre connecting all of the otherwise disconnected, conflicting surrounding parts.
When we project an inner content onto a real life person we may sometimes be unsure as to which is meant if it appears in a dream, content or real person. A friend of mine, a bit of a rogue, was a positive shadow figure for me in the unconscious. One night I dreamt he had a violent row with his next door neighbour, which I put down to my shadow being in conflict with another content of the unconscious. However, a few days later I saw the friend and he told me of a terrible row he had had with his next door neighbour, which almost came to blows. All the circumstances were the same as in the dream. So I had dreamt of my actual friend and not of my shadow. Yet other times it could only have been my shadow I was dreaming of; we are, therefore, as I say, not always sure.
As to the anima, she may appear in several forms, mother, true love, complete strangers etc., but certainly often as the personal sister. I have had many dreams in which my sister appeared as representative of the anima. The following is just one.
The scene is dimly lit as I stand on the beach with my sister. I want her to go into the sea and down to its depths, but she says, “It’s all right for you men. You can live in the sun.” She is afraid to go down under the sea.
This is not my real life sister but my anima, my feminine soul side, which belongs in the unconscious. Jung says one role of the anima is as psychopomp, a guide that can take consciousness down to the archetypal depths – she is therefore a connecting link. But here she is afraid, and perhaps with good reason. She says that men can live in the sun, by which she means male consciousness exists in conscious reality, whereas the habitat of the anima is the unconscious. If great danger arises out of the collective unconscious, consciousness can escape up to consciousness again, to the “sun”, but the anima is stuck down there in the unconscious. She can, however, perhaps come to the personal level and need not remain in the collective depths.
Many animal forms appear in dreams during the inner processes, each representing a certain aspect or content of unconscious/spirit reality, having become constellated over thousands of years. (Osiris, the spirit of the Underworld/unconscious in Egypt, was said to take many animal forms, which is also the case with Mercurius in alchemy.) One of the first signs or symbols to suddenly appear is a dog, called in the Mysteries a dog-spirit, and indeed, several kinds of dog will appear. But perhaps the main symbolic dog for us now in modern processes is a poodle, a white one meaning the good and light side, a black one the opposite sinister side. The dog as a symbol in ancient Egypt was Anubis, guide through the Underworld, called “Opener of the Way”. But the poodle symbol in recent times seems to have become set in the alchemical processes of the German poet Goethe, who experienced a black poodle that later developed into the Satan figure Mephistopheles, representing the dark side of the Self (told in Goethe’s epic tale, Faust). However, the poodle symbol may reach back to the old Germanic myths of Wotan, the Wild Huntsman – the poodle was originally a hunting dog. A dog also appears in medieval alchemy, and in the Holy Grail quests – and certainly in my own and other people’s dream processes. But many contents from the unconscious come pouring through once the inner depths become activated, including different animal ones, lion, stag, bear, cat, hare, crocodile, and so on. Mythology and religious tales are full of this symbolism from the unconscious.
I must add here that just two nights ago I dreamt I had my old dog, who died some years ago, on a lead. (I always refer to my dog as “who” and “him” etc., rather than “it”, “he” being more human to me than some humans.) Suddenly he changed into a stag with huge antlers, which were lit up with many lights, making it a fabulous sight. It all concerns the Self, the dog being one of his first forms, and the stag another, actually opposite higher and lower representations. The stag as a symbol of the Lower Self in Western Man is connected with the Green Man of myth and legend, sometimes called Cernunnus. Osiris in Egypt was “Lord of Green Vegetation” and was usually depicted with green skin and so was an ancient form of the Green Man (though much else). A Muslim example is Khidr, “The Verdant One”, again a form of the Lower Self. The stag was not one of the symbols of Osiris, as far as I am aware, seeing that it is not found in Egypt, again, as far as I am aware. (I must now add that last night I dreamt a little white terrier with a lovely face came to me, again a symbol of the Self.)