Sum it up for me

Aion – Class 3 by Edward Edinger



This is class number 3 and our assignment tonight is paragraphs 20 to 42, the chapter entitled “The Syzygy”. Last time you remember we discussed the Ego and we had left over the short chapter on the Shadow, so I’m gonna start with that this evening.

The Shadow

Whenever I talk about the Shadow particularly I always like to remind myself and my audience about the psychological principle that when one talks about depth-psychology it is likely that one will constellate in oneself and in one’s surroundings what it is one is talking about, so there is the saying “speak of the Devil and he shows up”, so keep that in mind as we’re talking about the Shadow and as we’re talking about these other entities too, Animus and Anima especially. It can save yourself a lot of grief if you remember that because otherwise the entity one is talking about sneaks up on you from behind and grabs you.

You may have noted that as we talked about the Ego last time we stayed on quite a superficial level. That’s the nature of the Ego, it’s a surface phenomenon and in order to get below the Ego you have to crack the ice and if you succeed in doing that the next thing you encounter in the individual psyche is the Shadow.

I think it’s interesting that this brief chapter, so far as I’m aware, is Jung’s most extensive account of the Shadow. He refers to it throughout his work but not in any lengthy or systematic way. In volume 7 [of the Collected Works, footnote 5 to paragraph 103] the two essays he speaks of the Shadow as corresponding to the personal Unconscious and he defines it as the

““negative” side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious.”

Collected Works, Volume 7, Footnote 5 to Paragraph 103 by Carl Jung

What he calls here the “insufficiently developed functions” I would consider it to be a reference to the infantile psyche, that’s the undeveloped aspect is the residual infantility. In paragraph 17 he talks about Shadow projection and makes the observation that the effect of projection of the Shadow is to isolate the subject from his environment, turning then a real relation into an illusory one. This is a theme that comes up repeatedly in the course of practical analysis. Again and again the patient will bring in to the analytic hour relationship problems that have at their root Shadow projection(s), it’s sort of the bread and butter of analytic work, because since the Shadow is the first thing to encounter below the Ego, naturally that’s going to get a great deal of attention analytically and what it calls for, especially when dreams bring up Shadow-figures associated with the environment what is called for is that the Shadow-figure has to be referred to the patient’s psyche.

The image that I have in mind for such a procedure is the image of the reflux-flask. That’s rather crude, but you get the idea. This is the flask and then the contents of the flask are being heated and vapor goes up and it condenses in the upper portions of the flask and then it’s fed back into the belly of the relux-flask again. That’s what we do analytically when we analyze Shadow-projections. Rather then let the projection seep out, leak into the environment, we feed it back into the psyche of the projector.

Now, one can do that successfully only if the patient is indeed an authentic candidate for analysis and we mustn’t be too optimistic in our evaluations of how many of our patients are authentic candidates for analysis because if one meets violent resistance to this reflux procedure then it means that it’s not appropriate to the individual. It means that one’s dealing with a weak Ego, or a young Ego that does not have the capacity to assimilate the Shadow at this stage of things, it’s as though the individual is out in a little raw-boat and he can’t take in any very sizable fish or the raw-boat will sink and therefore one must respect resistance to the effort to analyze the Shadow-projections and if he had meet having resistance then you desist.

You see it’s a fact that the young Ego in order to develop has to start out by separating itself from the Shadow and establishing the fact that it is good and worthy. Such an Ego is in the negative confession phase of ancient Egyptian religion. According to the Egyptian Book of the Dead at a certain stage of things the deceased comes into the judgement hall where he meets the goddess of truth, Maat, and he is then obliged to make the following confession and I’m gonna read this to you because you’ll recognize the dynamic in some of your patients and perhaps even in yourself at one time or another.

"Truly I come onto you and I bring before thee right and truth."

This is the deceased talking to the goddess.

"For thy sake I have rejected wickedness
I have done no hurt onto man
I have brought no harm onto beast
I have committed no crime
I've had no knowledge of Evil, nor have I acted wickedly
Each day I have labored more than it was required of me
My name have not come forth to the bode of the prince
I have not despised god
I have not caused misery
I have not done that which god abominates
I have caused no wrong done to the servant by his master
I have caused none to feel pain
I have made no man to weep
I have not committed murder
I have not wronged the people
I have not filched that which had been in the temples
Nor have I purloined the cakes of the gods
I have not committed fornication
I have not added onto nor have I diminished the offerings which were due
I have not stolen from the altars
I have not added to the weight of the balance
I have not snatched the milk from the mouth of the babe
I have not driven cattle from the pastures
I have not caught fishes with bait of their own bodies
I have not broken the channel of running water
I have not quenched the flame in its fullness
I have not thwarted the processions of the gods
Indeed I am pure, I am pure, I am pure, I am pure"

When one’s dealing with such a case the Ego needs to be supported and strengthened before a Shadow-analysis is possible in which case you will heartily agree those are bastards that you have to deal with out there, they are nasty people, because there is some truth in it too, you know, there can be sizable hooks to those projections but which way you go, which way you throw your weight, depends on your evaluation of what stage of Ego development the individual is in.

OK, now onto tonight’s material, chapter 3, The Syzygy.

The Syzygy

Now, let me say a word first of all about this term “syzygy” (συζυγία). It’s a very interesting word. It means “pair” or “couple” and you’ll remember the pairs of aions that the Gnostic god emanated were called syzygys, but the original meaning of the word literally was “to yoke together”, it’s derived from two different stems “syn” (συν) meaning “with” and “zygon” (ζυγός) meaning “yoke” or “the crossbar of a harness”. This longitudinal bar is connected to the wagon which I had it in the draw and this crossbar is called the “zygon” and the two loops, the necks of the horses, the two horses go into those two loops of the “zygon” and so the “zygon” literally or the “syzygy” means “the pair of horses that are yoked together in a single harness”, that’s the meaning of the word “syzygy”.

Now, this term refer in the psychology as Jung uses it, refers to the masculine and feminine principles that are yoked together in the human psyche and to give you some sense of how to understand that situation I presented a chart here. That chart actually can be thought of as an abstract representation of the psyche, it’s also a representation of this book “Aion”. Let me say a few things about it, working our way from above down. We start with the Ego at the top, that we already talked about, and next comes the Shadow, I’ve drawn it in a way to indicate that the Shadow is cast because of the light of the Ego so to speak. It could also be drawn in another way, could have been drawn just as another layer, but that’s the first thing one encounters and then as one goes deeper one encounters the Syzygy, the masculine and feminine principles represented by the Anima in the man and the Animus in the woman, and then deeper still comes the Self, first in its personal manifestations, then in its more collective manifestations as “history”, “world” and then “total spacetime continuum” and all those different levels will be explored exhaustively as the book proceeds, but what I wanted to particularly illustrate with this chart is how it is that the masculine Ego and the feminine Ego approach the Self through their contrasexual components, so in the middle I’ve got a kind of neutral Ego there that sneaks right between the two masculine and feminine principles that’s the kind of ideal situation that doesn’t really exist in reality. On the left hand side is the feminine Ego, which you see in order to get to the Self has to go through the Animus, and contrary wise, the masculine Ego in order to get to the Self, has to go through the Anima. That’s chiefly what this chart is designed to represent.

Now Jung tells us in paragraph 41, note 5 that the Anima and the Animus in the psyche are composed of three factors:

  • in the one the contrasexual qualities of the individual,
  • number two the archetypal image,
  • and number three the life-experience of the opposite sex.

Now the first two of those factors are innate, they are built in and the third one, life-experience of the opposite sex is acquired and of course in actual living experience those innate factors and acquired factors are not neatly discriminated, they’re overlapping and intermixing, but for the third factor, the acquired factor, certainly the experience of mother and father is overwhelmingly important, but the parents aren’t the only contributors of those acquired characteristics, by any means.

The major ones for the Anima-experience in the man, major one, in addition to the mother, will be the sister, if there is one, the daughter, if there is one, the lover, the wife and companion. Those are all on the personal, acquired level, but then behind those personal experiences will be the archetypal factors which will express themselves as “divine guide” and “source of inspiration” or “evil seductress” or “a personification of fate and destiny” and “life” itself and finally the principle of Eros.

For the woman’s Animus-experience there will be similar accumulated factors. First of all, the father, and then the borther, the son, the lover, husband, and companion are on the personal acquired level, and then on the archetypal level the “divine guide” and “source of inspiration” or “the evil rapist” or the “personification of spiritual meaning” and finally the principle of Logos.

The 4 different states of relation to the Anima or the Animus

I’d also like to draw you attention to different states of relation to the Anima or the Animus. This distinction between different kinds of relationship is of some importance in evaluating analytic patients. I would distinguish four different states of relation to Anima or Animus and I will call them the: infantile state, the projected state, the possessed state, and the conscious state. Let me say a few words about each of those four, first of all the infantile state.

1. The infantile state

This is the original state of symbolic mother-son or father-daughter incest and Jung describes this condition for a man in paragraph 20. I must read a rather lengthy quote because it’s so profoundly relevant to our daily work. This is the man’s infantile relation to the Anima now:

“[20] His Eros is passive like a child’s; he hopes to be caught, sucked in, enveloped, and devoured. He seeks, as it were, the protecting, nourishing, charmed circle of the mother, the condition of the infant released from every care, in which the outside world bends over him and even forces happiness upon him. No wonder the real world vanishes from sight!”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 20 by Carl Jung

“[21] Often a mother appears beside him who apparently shows not the slightest concern that her little son should become a man, but who, with tireless and self-immolating effort, neglects nothing that might hinder him from growing up and marrying. You behold the secret conspiracy between mother and son, and how each helps the other to betray life.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 21 by Carl Jung

“[22] There is in him a desire to touch reality, to embrace the earth and fructify the field of the world. But he makes no more than a series of fitful starts, for his initiative as well as his staying power are crippled by the secret memory that the world and happiness may be had as a gift—from the mother. The fragment of world which he, like every man, must encounter again and again is never quite the right one, since it does not’fall into his lap, … It makes demands on the masculinity of a man, on his ardour, above all on his courage and resolution when it comes to throwing his whole being into the scales. For this he would need a faithless Eros, one capable of forgetting his mother and undergoing the pain of relinquishing the first love of his life.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 22 by Carl Jung

Et cetera.

This feature, this quality, the situation described so boldly here is a significant feature of almost all analysis of men, especially young men. Naturally, they’re not going to express themselves that crudely, they’re going to express themselves much more subtly, but the basic unconscious attitude would be visible to you if you got eyes to see it.

Now, in this chapter Jung does not give a similar description of the woman’s relation to the father, but he does allude to this matter in “Mysterium Coniunctionis” in paragraph 232, so there he says this:

“[232] The dark sun of feminine psychology is connected with the father-imago, since the father is the first carrier of the animus-image. He endows this virtual image with substance and form, for on account of his Logos he is the source of “spirit” for the daughter. Unfortunately this source is often sullied just where we would expect clean water. For the spirit that benefits a woman is not mere intellect, it is far more: it is an attitude, the spirit by which a man lives. Even a so-called “ideal” spirit is not always the best if it does not understand how to deal adequately with nature, that is, with the animal man. This really would be ideal. Hence every father is given the opportunity to corrupt, in one way or another, his daughter’s nature, and the educator, husband, or psychiatrist then has to face the music. For “what has been spoiled by the father” can only be made good by a father, …”

Collected Works, Volume 14, Paragraph 232 by Carl Jung

These two passages tell us that the danger for the son, the danger for the mother-complex, the danger of the mother-complex for the son is that it will poison his masculine urge to engage life and for the daughter the danger of the father-complex is that it will corrupt her relation to spirit or the meaning. These are the dangers of the infantile aspect of relation to the Anima or the Animus.

Now the second state is what I call the projected state.

2. The projected state

In this state the Anima and the Animus are experience in projection onto a member of the opposite sex. I think one can make further distinction between remote projections and nearby projections.

By remote projections I mean as the adoration of movie stars and rock singers and groupie phenomena of that sort, in other words a collective projection that is usually participated in by whole group, and the projection carrier is not available to provide any corrective response, you see, so it has a sizable infantile component to it, these remote projections.

Now, nearby projections those get closer to home and things get more interesting, because nearby projections then lead one into actual live encounters in which the projected image is compared and contrasted with the reality of the projection carrier and that aids to greater consciousness.

The third stage of relation to Anima and Animus I call the possessed state.

3. The possessed state

In this state we have the Anima-possessed man or the Animus-possessed woman.

The Anima-possessed man, when he’s in this condition, and this usually isn’t a perpetual state, it comes and goes with moods, when he’s in it he is sensitive, resentful, moody, with feelings very easily hurt, and so the key word for the Anima-possessed man is resentment, one form or another of resentment, a sour, disappointed life-attitude. Another way of putting it would be that the Anima-possessed man demonstrates inappropriate softness.

Now the Animus-possessed woman is the reverse. She’s opinionated, argumentative, brittle and she represents the inappropriate hardness when that state is uppermost, anyway.

Finally, the fourth state that I’m listing would be the conscious relation to the Anima or the Animus.

4. The conscious state

At this stage of things the figure becomes a function that relates the Ego to the Unconscious, or as Jung puts it in paragraph 40, the Anima or the Animus “filters the contents of the collective unconscious through to the conscious mind”. This is what it does when the Ego has a conscious relation to it, then the Ego is no longer subject to possession by it, but it becomes a conduit, so to speak, by which the contents of the Collective Unconscious can move from the Unconscious to the Ego and this conscious relation to the Anima or Animus leads to a certain attitude that gives regular attention to the Unconscious and Jung refers to that in paragraph 40:

“[40] Though the effects of anima and animus can be made conscious, they themselves are factors transcending consciousness and beyond the reach of perception and volition. Hence they remain autonomous despite the integration of their contents, and for this reason they should be borne constantly in mind. This is extremely important from the therapeutic standpoint,”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 40 by Carl Jung

and here’s the punchline:

“[40] because constant observation pays the unconscious a tribute that more or less guarantees its co-operation.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 40 by Carl Jung

I read that again:

“[40] Constant observation pays the unconscious a tribute that more or less guarantees its co-operation.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 40 by Carl Jung

“[40] The unconscious as we know can never be “done with” once and for all. It is, in fact, one of the most important tasks of psychic hygiene to pay continual attention to the symptomatology of unconscious contents.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Paragraph 40 by Carl Jung

The ultimate goal of the masculine and the feminine principle

OK. Now, the ultimate goal of these two masculine, feminine principles that go to make up the Syzygy is the coniunctio, the union and this dynamic the urge of the Syzygy to achieve the coniunctio lives itself out in external life in a fairly typical and characteristic way, so I want to summarize that for you. This is what I would call the concrete or exteriorized coniunctio sequence.

The man and the woman fall in love, in other words they fall into mutual Anima and Animus projections. At that stage of things it’s a very delicious stage of being, each is convinced that he or she has found his soul-mate in the other and there is a blissful feeling of wholeness whenever they are together, that, on the other hand, there is a very painful sense of loss when they are apart. That’s the initial state of things, but because it’s largely on an unconscious basis, usually that state of affairs cannot last too long, it usually evolves into one of three different possibilities.

One possibility is that the concrete coniunctio proceeds in life and there is marriage, family, and a joint life together and the libido that had been flowing between the Anima and the Animus projections is progressively led into the life-effort of having a family and developing a concrete existence together.

The second possibility is instead of a concrete coniunctio would be a concrete separatio, in other words the projection drops off for one or the other, or let’s say it drops off for one, and then the other partner is abandoned, and when that happens then the projected one is exposed to grief, despair, violence, and sometimes even murder or suicide. This is the “Dido-phenomenon”, the “Medea-phenomenon”, the “Don Jose-phenomenon” in Carmen, the extremes of despair or violence are activated because one’s lost one’s soul-mate and it’s experienced as a total defeat, a total failure of the possibility of coniunctio and then that despair then leads to destruction. Or the alternative is that there is a realization that the concrete person wasn’t the point anyway and then one starts to make connections with the Anima or the Animus, and that would be the theme “when half-gods go, the gods arrive”, or that’s Ariadne’s experience when Theseus abandons her, then Dionysos arrives on the scene, you see.

The third possibility is that a progressive development occurs in the midst of the mutual transference or the mutual projection and while enduring the vicissitudes of frustration, the individuals progressively discover that their in-lovedness is based on a projection of the Anima or the Animus but as a consequence of having been the carrier of that projection one is also lead to the discovery and the capacity for conscious object-love and then it becomes possible to love the partner as he or she actually is, simultaneously with developing and maintaining a living connection to the Unconscious image of the Animus or the Anima.

And with that I’ll conclude for tonight.

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