So right after I finished the last post I started thinking more and more about the inner child and between the book and some research I found myself writing. I had started to write what would become this post as a segway in Wednesday’s post, but realized it didn’t really fit in there. So instead of starting on Sacred Sexuality in the Craft, today I want to pursue this segway and share what I learned.
I’m a psychology person. I used to hate it, but now it’s becoming my bread and butter. I have a Bachelor’s and I’m tinkering with looking into my Master’s and all because of a Personality of Psychology class. Before that I just found the subject dull and was much more of a sociology person.
Accepting our inner child makes me think of the theories of Carl Jung and the collective unconscious. Here’s why, just stay with me. I have to explain before we can get there.
Now to understand where I’m going we have to talk about his theory of the unconscious. Like Freud, Jung saw the psyche as a number of separate but interacting systems. There was the ego, which is our conscious mind and the unconscious. Unlike Freud he thought the conscious consisted of two layers. The first was the personal unconscious which contains things temporarily forgotten ideas thoughts, memories, etc. The more elements attached to a concept, the more complex and influential the concept was on the development or actions of the individual.
Then there was the collective unconscious, which is like a storehouse of latent energy and genetically inserted memories of our past. They include our primal instincts and ideas that are inherently common to all men no matter their emotions or position in life. Some may call this the akashic records, others the Wyrd. Either way, by scientific or mystical name, they are all essentially the same thing.
Now, Jung also thought that these universal symbols called archetypes were a part of this collective unconsciousness. It was his theory that this is why there are some symbols that are simply universal no matter the culture. For example, nearly every culture has stories of the wise sage, or the nurturing mother. While he identified more than we can count he tended to focus on four of them.
The first was the persona….or the mask we put on for the world. He called it the conformity archetype and he compared it to being an actor. In terms of our last discussion, I think of this as the person we become as an adult due to societal expectations. We are still individuals, but we have conformed based on the expectations we grew up with or sometimes rejected in the adults we grew up with.
The second is the anima/animus. This is the duality of our biological sex. Or essentially, the masculinity that exists within me despite the fact that I’m female. Same thing on the opposite end of the spectrum. We were sort of talking about this when we talked about the duality of masculinity and femininity in Monday’s post.
The third is the shadow. This is the animal side of our personality and is often compared to Freud’s ID. He considered it the source of both our creative and destructive energies. Evolutionary theorists sometimes claim that this archetype may reflect predispositions that once had survival value.
Finally, there is the self, which provides a sense of unity between all the archetypes. For Jung the ultimate aim of every person was to achieve a state of selfhood (similar to self-actualization). Essentially, we want to find balance within ourselves between the masculine, feminine, and all the other archetypes and universal symbols that are a part of us individually and a species.
He believed that these developed from men and women living together. He also believed that modern Western society has forced us, in its new norms and social values, to reject some of these archetypes such as the feminine in a male and vice versa. He also believed that this rejection of certain archetypes led to the devaluation of some feminine qualities and to the elevation of the persona above the true self.
What does it all mean?
I always felt drawn to Jung’s ideas and I never realized why. Probably because I haven’t thought of them since I studied with Lady G or since I’ve started doing this. A lot of his theories are congruent with elements of our faith. Most pagans believe that we have to accept the whole of ourselves before we can be happy. That means accepting the things that other adults would consider childlike in our lives. It means accepting the inner child or younger self. It means accepting the attributes of yourself that are often considered contrary to the core attributes we give to each gender.
If you want to read more about all this….just check out www.simplypsychology.org/carl-jung.html.
It’s all about Balance
We’ve talked about accepting ourselves and finding balance before. If you aren’t sold yet, let me give you one final example before I leave you to contemplate my theory that spurred from the last post.
Jung came up with another theory….yes I know….you’re tired of hearing about Jung…but he did. He came up with the concepts of introversion and extroversion. He also came up with the concepts that would become the Myers Briggs Personality Test, but that’s a whole other story.
Everyone has introverted and extroverted tendencies. True extroverts and introverts are rare and normally have a lot of issues. True extroverts (also called unstable extroverts) are overly touchy, excitable, aggressive, impulsive and (sometimes) optimistic. Meanwhile true introverts are overly moody, anxious, reserved, unsociable, and quiet (Entwistle and Wilson 2007). Most of us fall on a scale somewhere in between and recently they termed someone who teeters at the middle as a new category the Ambivert. (well not really new…it’s just now being recognized by the psychological community at large).
Eysenk said that these people who fell right in the middle of the spectrum were more stable than people who fell further to either side of the spectrum. http://www.scienceofpeople.com/2014/12/ambivert-extrovert-introvert/
So where do you fall? Are you balanced? Are you more of an extrovert? Or are you more of an introvert?
Some food for thought.
Have a blessed weekend.
Engwistle and Wison (2007). Personality, study methods and academic performance. Higher Education Quarterly. Vol 24 Issue 2, pages 147-156.