5.5 Initiating Individuation

(Story begins here) “So if archetypes exist across all cultures, but aren’t consciously seen…”
“I call them the collective unconscious, what you might call the superconscious.”

“Because they’re above consciousness? The opposite of subconscious?”

“Precisely, well done Herr Goodshaw, and the way to achieve a healthy mind is to unite all opposites. Our friend here,” Jung gesticulated all around him, “has a dominant puer aeternus, it is why he is so frightened of any sort of commitment or permanent consequences. People with this increasingly common ‘Peter Pan syndrome’ as we often call it will just want to live free and easy, like children. Sadly it is a syndrome which is not at all conducive to lung donation. This young man urgently needs to find his Senexor wise old man archetype to balance him. This archetype would give him the courage to do his duty.”

“So it’s all about imagining the right Gods or archetypes_”

“Same thing.”

“_to balance out the personality?”
“That is only part of the uniting of opposites. The fundamental part is what I call individuation, which is uniting the conscious with the subconscious. It is at the mystical heart of all religions. We meet ourselves and at the same time we meet the divine. It’s why ‘know thyself’ was inscribed on the Temple of Delphi.”

“So it’s a religious concept?”

“The fundamental part is what I call individuation, which is uniting the conscious with the subconscious. It is at the mystical heart of all religions.”

“Not strictly, but spiritual experience is essential. I famously hounded a severe alcoholic, Rowland Hazard III to have a spiritual experience at all costs, as I could find no other way to cure him. People think we no longer need God, but they are sorely mistaken, on Earth I mentioned that we must all be crucified with Christ, by being suspended in moral suffering equivalent to true crucifixion.”
“So when Christ said ‘take up your cross and follow me…”

“Exactly. All the true, great religious texts are a dance of the archetypes which lead us to higher places.”
“So, individuation, how do you find out what’s going on in the subconscious?” Jung beamed.

“The free associations test. I simply say certain words to my patients and ask them what word they associate with them. The longer they take to think of something, the more of a problem they have with the word.”

“That’s very clever, to measure the subconscious with the technology of a hundred years ago.”

“Why thank you, it is nothing really,” beamed Jung modestly. “The aim is to help the patient see their own shadow, their own darkness and accept it. Trying to hide from their own darkness is what can really ‘mess people up’ as you might say in your time.”

“So encouraging people to release their dark sides, is that moral?”

“Oh Herr Goodshaw, that is to seriously misunderstand me. To be whole, to unify opposites, one must accept the dark side, but not release it. The shadow must be identified and then tamed, even transcended. To quote myself, ‘we climb to a higher moral level, a higher plane of consciousness in order to be equal to the superhuman powers which the fallen angels have played into our hands’.

“Beautiful.”

“Why, thank you. Shall we go back and see Mary now?” The corridor vanished and the alchemical laboratory rematerialized.

“Bubbeleh, you’re back!” On the table, Mary dropped the scroll she was reading and bustled over. “So how was your journey into the mind?” she asked eagerly.

“Incredible,” said Pete enthusiastically, “but I don’t quite see the link with alchemy.” Jung exchanged a smile with Mary.

“That’s easily explained Herr Goodshaw, the nigredo is bringing up the subconscious, the infrared area that you saw and accepting it. The albedo is the separation, the acknowledgement that whilst dark things exist in our mind, they do not define us if we find the strength not to let them. This naturally ushers in the citrinitas, seeing the truth, that our minds stretch infinitely above and below, even though we only experience a small band of our mental wavelengths. God truly is inside us, it is merely a matter of focus and balancing of the opposites within us in order to see Him.” Mary was nodding approvingly as Jung continued.

“The Rubedo symbolises gold, spiritually it means that we see our true nature as indestructible souls gradually returning back to God. Psychologically, it means individuation, emergence from an undifferentiated consciousness and the true inner peace which flows from it.”

“So if this is what alchemy is, why don’t all the ancient alchemical texts just say so?” asked Pete.

“Because in my time and to be honest in your time too,” Mary replied, “the truth is a very dangerous thing to say. So we had to encode it so only those really searching would find it.”

“Yet these ideas survive even in the age of modern physics,” murmured Pete. Jung raised an eyebrow.

“My work was inspired by and indeed inspired modern physicists,” he said firmly. “In 1930, I started treating a young man called Wolfgang Pauli. It is now public knowledge, so I can tell you that his divorce and the suicide of his mother had got a bit too much for him. He was a mystic and one of the pioneers of quantum physics and discovered the concept of particle spin.”

“A mystic and a physicist?”

“Yes Pete,” said Jung patiently, “there is no contradiction. You know now that everything is within the mind, so truth can be sought internally and externally. Anyway, when he was better, we started working together on some interesting ideas. Pauli embraced my concept of archetypes, he saw it as a link between physical events and the mind of the scientist studying them. Kepler had the same view four centuries earlier as a matter of fact. The archetypes that order our perceptions and ideas are themselves part of something that transcends the human mind and the external world, basically the mind of God.”

“Wow,” said Pete. He turned to Mary. “Speaking of physics, it’s too bad you never actually managed to turn a base metal into gold.” Mary was grinning to herself.

“That may be a false conclusion Pete,” she said smugly, “I would like to show you something which I got up to a few lives after this one.”

“And I should be going,” said Jung, “I’m due a new incarnation shortly.”

“So it’s not true then?” said Mary, earnestly.

“What isn’t Fraulein?”

“That you’re only Jung once!” bellowed Mary clapping the psychologist on the back with a force to send his spectacles shooting most of the way down his nose. Jung repositioned his spectacles with mild annoyance.

“Really Mary, it seems that the joker archetype is excessively dominant within you.” He pulled out a stopwatch and wound it briefly. “Tell me, what word comes into your mind when I say ‘boisterous’?” he asked keenly. Mary just smiled.

“Forget it Carl, you really don’t want to go rummaging around in my head!” She turned to Pete, “shall we?” Mary’s laboratory was replaced by a modern particle accelerator building. Metal walkways suspended from brightly whitewashed walls were suspended over huge pieces of precision equipment.

“Where are we?”

“This is a particle accelerator, in nineteen eighty.” Mary nudged Pete agonisingly in the ribs, “Look, here I am!” A late middle-aged man with neatly brylcreemed hair came striding past them and sat at a bank of primitive looking computers. “My soul’s future incarnation as Glenn Seaborg,” Mary announced proudly. “One of the best chemists in history, he discovered ten elements! They even named one after him while he was still alive. Do you know how often that happened before or since?”

“Never?” guessed Pete

“Yes,” said Mary slightly crestfallen. “But you will never guess what this element was called?” she said excitedly. Pete thought briefly.

“Seaborg… Seaborgium?”

“Yes,” said Mary once more crestfallen. “But you are about to see me achieve something many tried and failed to do for thousands of years.” A low whirring noise began, rapidly rising in pitch to a dull shriek. Seaborg stared earnestly at the monitor and began solemnly writing down a series of numbers. “I’ve just turned base metal into gold. The best part is, I didn’t even do it for giggles, it was for a higher scientific purpose,” said Mary with pride. Pete looked at the scientist, who wiped a tear from his otherwise solemn face. Seaborg had just felt a little pang of happy emotion from somewhere long in his past. Pete turned when he heard clanking from behind. “Hi Pete! Hi Mary!” beamed Lisa.
“Lisa! My Bubbeleh! How are you?” exclaimed Mary, heartily kissing the angel on both cheeks.

“I’m very well thanks, I’ve just come to show Pete here another happy ending if you’ve finished with him?”

“Yes Lisa, it’s been lovely teaching Pete a thing or two about alchemy, but I must get back to my lab.”

“Thanks for everything Mary, I’ve learned a lot from you,” said Pete earnestly. The particle accelerator faded and Pete found himself in yet another hospital room. A man who looked a lot like Brian was sat beside the bed, but his expression was calm, kind and serene, similar to Lisa’s in some respects. The frail, pasty young woman in the bed gradually came to.

“Hi Sis,” said the young man. The woman looked confused.

“Where’s… Dad?” she managed.

“I sent him home for some rest. But one of us will be right here from now on. Well, until they send you and me in for the general tomorrow.”

“You’re… sure… about… this?”

“Never had a doubt. I’ve always had little Sis’s back and this wouldn’t be a good time to stop!”

“Your… swimming…?”

“I was about ready to give up racing anyway,” said the young man breezily, “I’m quite happy to pootle about up and down the lanes a bit slower. Much less stressful.” He held his sister’s hand tightly. “But this isn’t about me Sis, it’s about you. We’ll get you better.”

“Despite a lot of resits, it’s graduation day!” beamed Lisa happily.

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