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Archive for October 14th, 2012

The Numina that Cross Our Path

Something empirically demonstrable comes to our aid from the depths of our unconscious nature. It is the task of the conscious mind to understand these hints. If this does not happen, the process of individuation will nevertheless continue. The only difference is that we become its victims and are dragged along by fate towards that inescapable goal which we might have reached walking upright, if only we had taken the trouble and been patient enough to understand in time the meaning of the numina that cross our path.

C.G. Jung (CW 11, par. 746)

What are these “numina” that enter our lives, invited or not? For those living in ancient times, they were the gods, those powerful forces that could push or pull one through life. Myth is full of stories of those “dragged along by fate” to their ultimate comic or tragic goal in life. Think of Homer’s great epics or the plays of Sophocles. Religions are rooted in tales of individuals seized by the numinous power of their particular God. In today’s world, biographies of individuals following their muse fascinate us, life stories in which the beckoning muse may lead the yearning follower to riches or ruin. The film The Master portrays two such individuals, each living their fate.  One possessed by a numinous savior archetype, while the other character follows a trajectory of downward spiraling self-destructive darkness.

Jung stresses that we can choose to understand the meaning of the numina that populate life. Note, he says this process takes patience and time. Such a process is portrayed in fairy tales where the hero or heroine must sort seeds, or carry out tedious tasks in order to obtain their treasure. Patience is a virtue as the saying goes, i.e., patience is somehow linked to truth. The root of the word patient means ‘to bear or endure without complaint.’ It is interesting that in fairy tales, the young dummling carries out his or her tasks with no complaints. The dummling is completely in the present, open and willing to do what is required. Unlike the self possessed older siblings who constantly complain about being tasked to do anything.

These stories remind us that we need to be patient with ourselves. Even though the outer world may be rushing us along to DO, we need to endure without complaint. The process requires us to consciously wait and pay attention to those things that come “to our aid from the depths of our unconscious nature.” Like the dummling we can open our hearts to whatever lies in the depths. In this way, we “walk upright” towards the goals in our lives, which seems so much better than being dragged…

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