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- Archetypal Symbolism -

By

 Alan Schneider

 

             This is a brief synopsis of Jungian Archetypal symbols that are referred to in the first chapter of Doors In Disguise - Samadhi. It is by no means a complete listing of the full spectrum of the material, but should  be of help to the reader in understanding the many Jungian concepts that figure therein. (1)

           (1) YHVH - Otherwise known as the Tetragrammaton in Biblical and occult writing, this expression is frequently referred to as the "unpronounceable" Name of God because the ancient Hebrew scholars developed the habit of dropping the vowel designations from their spiritual  texts as a means of keeping them secret, rendering YHVH as a cluster of consonants that are apparently unintelligible, at least to the uninitiated. (2)

           The Hebrew term "Yahweh" (referring to a variant in which "V" is replaced by "W") is often used as a "pronounceable" form of God's Name, again in Biblical and occult tests, and other spiritual writing as well. As has been suggested in Samadhi, this is a very powerful path to Ascension when properly understood and employed. (3)

           In Samadhi a suggested interpretation of YHVH was offered, that of hand-window-nail-window, and this was supported by the meditation-induced vision recounted therein - thus, a brief discussion regarding meditation may be in order here.  Meditation is a very personal experience on the part of the practitioner - the results do not generalize across all practice by any means. Inasmuch as the writer was in an extended meditation trance for several days during the Samadhi experience, this observation necessarily applies to the entire interval - the whole meditation revelation must be considered to be my personal interpretation only! Any other person meditating even on the apparently same theme(s) might perceive entirely different results, depending on their mindset and many other personal circumstances, including environmental ones. In addition, any visions experienced in meditation must be considered as revealed personal archetypal symbolism. Freud once described dreams as "the royal road to the unconscious".  Meditation is another such road - to the collective unconscious and the realm of archetypal symbols found there. (4)

           Jung believed that the individual's culture played a significant role in the expression of archetypal symbols. As such, it is reasonable to suppose that a person who had never encountered YHVH might not initially recognize it. This might even apply to a Hebrew who had not encountered the term - such "blank slate" failure of recognition may well require conceptual introduction to the term - in fact, many people may not recognize or respond to any archetypal symbolism at all if they are not genetically predisposed to a certain level of subconscious pattern recognition. A given culture may be dedicated to the mass production of rote consumers - nothing more, with all other thought and curiosity blocked out... (5)

           It can be said here with some confidence that certain expressions are capable, particularly when already in meditation, of heightening the trance involved, and directing its character along specific lines. The effect of chanted expressions in many traditions is well documented, and in the author's experience during Samadhi YHVH was observed by him to be "heard" as a more or less continuous background chant during the peak portion of the experience.  This must be understood to both include and surpass the simple sequence of the letters, and the author's interpretation of their meaning as well.  Thus YHVH as an archetypal symbol exists in a special category where it simultaneously points to "God" in an encrypted sense, "God" in an explicit sense (as Yahweh), "God" in an interpretive sense (as my personal vision of the Shepard), and "God" in an encoded sense that is activated by chanting, or experiencing it as being chanted.  And who knows how much more - we are dealing here with one of the oldest and most universal expressions of spirit in history in a very pure and original format.  This author had an immediate recognition/response to the symbol at his first introduction to it - a sense of familiarity coupled with a sensed invitation to investigate it further - perhaps he has the genetic predisposition already noted! (6)

           2) The Tree of Life - another "big" Jungian archetypal symbol (like YHVH) one that stands for, or points to, the presence of major psychological trends in the unconscious region of the mind.  There is a fairly well-labeled depiction of this archetypal symbol in the "Gallery" link. It is an impressive representation, used by the Jewish priesthood in antiquity as both a teaching and spiritual device, although it has largely become the venue of esoteric students and seekers in the modern day. (7)

           The Tree is a map of all the stages of conscious development known to its creators,  beginning with the Sephira ("shining sphere") Malkuth as the representation of the Physical Plane shown to us in the senses, and terminating at the highest level of Kether - the Crown - representing the Mind of God. Presumably, a dedicated enough individual could reach that level in one lifetime with a sincere effort.  This Ascension is known in Cabala (Jewish mysticism) as the Path of the Flaming Sword (a reference to the Angel armed with a sword of fire that turned in all directions in the Bible, blocking reentrance to Paradise at the East Gate of Eden). This Path oscillates up the Tree from Malkuth, passing through the other Sephiroth (plural of Sephira) on the way, with each successive one representing a more enhanced stage of spiritual knowledge and development. Esoteric though it is, several volumes of literature have still been written on the Tree and the Path of the Flaming Sword as a means of spiritual Ascension... (8)

           In the author's case, the Tree initially appeared as a brilliantly illuminated and fantastic image, however in three dimensions, much like an actual tree, located beside a large stream, A path wound alongside the Tree between it and the stream. These are all archetypal symbols of significance - the Tree represents more than "life" as is so often noted - as previously mentioned, it is an Astral image of the total inner conscious expansion that can be experienced - beginning with sensation in Malkuth and ending in Divine Perception in Kether - the latter being site of the Logos and God. (9)

           The Astral Plane is the term used in Western mysticism to denote the many altered states of awareness accessible beyond the physical senses (as occurring on the Physical Plane - i.e. normal waking experience) through such additional processes as dreaming, meditation, chanting, imagination, and (occasionally) hallucinating, to name a few. The Astral state of awareness is populated with both Freudian sexual and Jungian archetypal symbols, nor are they always distinct from each other, making the task of interpreting their meaning quite daunting, even for the medical professional!  There are numerous Astral images that almost exist in a one-to-one correspondence to Physical events and processes - the Astral body, travel, chord (a clear reference to the umbilical chord), spine (complete with the Hindu Chakras aliened along it - the Chakras are also Astral perceptions), vision, hearing, etc. The Astral Plane can be thought of as "the world next door" to the Physical Plane. (10)

           The Stream and the Path alongside the Tree also have extended Astral meaning. The Stream is an archetypal symbol of flow - specifically, the ongoing transition of perceptions that accompanies physical life on the Physical Plane, and this is very important because all of the Astral images are ultimately symbolic unconscious messages that refer to unexpressed or unresolved issues on the Physical Plane existing in external reality. The same can be said of the Path, symbolically representing the course perceived by the Ego - the conscious mind - as the one through life that is most readily traversable because others - a reference to acculturation - have already passed along that way. All of these are internal mental images that nonetheless refer to external conditions in external reality. This does not mean that Astral forms are less "real" than Physical forms - they simply exist in a different location, and follow different modes of expression. Moreover, the same can be said for all internal phenomena including thoughts, ideas, and feelings - no matter how abstract or esoteric, they still exist within some kind of framework of expression - even the Logos - and these will invariably refer back to some phenomenon located in external reality! This is the true meaning of altered states of awareness - they all are synopses of symbolic messages intended to facilitate more effective, meaningful baseline awareness in physical reality. The author refers to this interactive condition as "The Holistic Mind" - referenced by a diagram of that title in the "Gallery" link. The ultimate driver of events in this Jungian model of consciousness is the small sphere at the center of this structure - referred to as the Self.  The Self is the origin of all internal mental events - it is from this source that the archetypal symbols originate as useful directives for living in physical reality on the Physical Plane.  More will be said regarding the Self  further on in this essay... (11)

           3) The Sacred Doe - The female deer is a well known symbol of innocence and compassion, coupled with maternal nurturance.  Please follow along as her appearance is described in the author's vision. (12)

           As he beheld the idyllic vision of the Tree, Path, and Stream, a doe approached along the Path, stopped, and looked directly at him. Now, it is well to note here that Astral visions are not in any sense bound by what we experience as physical laws of nature - they are only governed by the Self as it transmits the material to the observer. As the author observed the Doe, the vision of her head expanded to fill his whole consciousness, all the while still looking directly at him, and peering with a peculiar intensity. Then, at once, the vision of the Doe vanished and the Tree/Path/Stream briefly reappeared, only to vanish as well. (13)

           In occult parlance, the Doe was the first instance of something known as a Ring-Pass-Not - a barrier that requires a specific response or condition to allow further progress, customarily in an Initiation - a ritual procedure undertaken to confer a sacred entitlement.  In the author's case, the entire Ascension was made possible because he literally expected nothing to come of it! Had any form of subconscious or other unexpressed wish for a result been present, the whole process would have ended, or perhaps never even begun. An empty mind can be a very powerful thing indeed! The Doe was the Sacred Self, the pure condition of awareness, examining the author for any sign of Ego involvement - any kind of desire for an outcome - and, since there was none present, the Vision continued into the Heart Chakra, analogous to the Sephira Tipareth. (14)

           4) The Sacred Heart - The archetypal symbol of the Heart, and particularly the Sacred Heart,  is intimately related to that most abstract, and yet most significant, concept of the Soul - our inner guiding light, and (hopefully) moral compass. The probably more scientifically appropriate term for the Heart/Soul/Light center is the Jungian Self, previously noted at the end of the last paragraph. The Cabalist analog of this Astral center is the Sephira Tipareth,  while the Hindu equivalent is the Chakra Anahata. (15)

           The Self is, above all else, concerned with morality, the conscience, and compassionate, selfless (i.e. non-self-centered) love.  It is noteworthy that the three Chakras and the four Sephiroth preceding the level of Anahata/Tipareth are all concerned with material functioning in some sense - survival, sexuality, social power and prestige, and for many people, this is where their awareness stops - with the literal, the sensory, and the physical. For Freud, all subsequent stages of perception were relegated to the Superego - the acculturated focus of social rules and regulations, of mores, and of taboos. The closest Freudian equivalent to the Jungian Self is located in the amorphous Superego. The Self  bridges the gap from the Freudian Ego to the Soul. Jung knew this and postulated as much in The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, wherein he also gave serious scientific consideration to the additional sequence of Chakras beyond Anahata as subsequent Archetypal Symbols. (16)

           The author suspects that the Self/Soul psychic structure was operating in the background of his Ascension experience - the last clear moral image that he had was of the Sacred Doe, and particularly her piercing eyes. It is suspected here that his consciousness was open enough to have negotiated not only that ring-pass-not, but the additional one at the Sephira Daath - the so-called "invisible" Sephira - hidden in the Cabalist Abyss of Ignorance below the Supernal Triangle. That Sephira will not allow any sense of the body or physical existence/sensation to pass through it into the Supernal realm beyond - the least residual fear of death will halt the Ascension process there! In Yogic (i.e. Hindu cultural) terms, the author seems to have bypassed both Vishuddha (the Throat Chakra) and Ajna (the Brow Chakra, or Third Eye) and passed directly into Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra. This may be attributed to the fact that he was already in such a deep trance that his perceptual focus was exclusively directed "within", and did not need any further assistance from his "Third Eye" (Ajna actually looks within at the Mind and the mental structures therein). Sahasrara is the primary mental form that both includes and supersedes the Self/Soul as part of its role as the ultimate destination of Ascension. (17)

           As has been previously noted, Jungian analysis postulates that the Self is the origin of all mental events, wherever else their appearance in the psyche is manifested to perception - it is the foundation of the Jungian Mind.  The author strongly suspects that the Sacred Doe, the Sacred Heart, Daath, and his perceptual experience of Sahasrara were all radiating forth in his consciousness from the Self as their point of transmission - perhaps even the initial vision of the Tree. the Path, and the Stream as well. Symbols are, after all, the language of the Mind, and the Self is the speaker! (18)

           5) Sahasrara, the Sacred Lotus - Following his vision of the Sacred Doe the next clearly perceived vision the author had was of Sahasrara (a distinctly Hindu, Yogic symbol, not Cabalist) - also known as the Thousand-Petaled Lotus) which literally burst into his "visual" field perhaps a second after the vision of the Doe receded. It is presumed here that Sahasrara was the Self's preferred mode of presentation, as opposed to the more intellectual, analytical Supernal Triangle of Cabala. Initially, the entirety of the structure was present, very much as depicted in the many pictorial representations of it known to Yoga - a bright white core surrounded by first a bright yellow field, then a bright red field, then surrounded by a vast array of petal-like forms, the whole demonstrating an intense luminous radiance. In perceptual terms, the author passed first through the field of "petals", then the red region, then the yellow one, and then into the white core. The experience as perceived by him (including his emotional responses) is detailed in Samadhi and need not be repeated here, but his experience of the core (or in Yogic terms "Heart" of the Divine Lotus) deserves special attention, because he believes that this latter was, in fact, the manifestation of the Self. (19)

           Upon entering the Core/Heart of Sahasrara, another visual transformation took place, and the author's perception shifted to the experience of an omnipresent  field of pure, intense White Light. At the same time, he experienced an equally omnipresent perception of equally pure, unconditional Love - absolute Agape! And, although he tried, no human terms can describe the dual condition of Love and Light present, and nothing else detectable anywhere. He was at once returned to the Cosmic Womb of the archetypal Great Mother, and receiving the Divine Guidance of the archetypal Great Father - this latter flowing forth somehow encoded in the Divine Light - and comprehensible, but apocryphal - knowable only through personal experience, not instruction. (20)

           Somehow, he knew that his personal essence was still present during the experience, but it had become blended (Samadhi means "blending" in Sanskrit - the ancient Hindu language) with the Divine Consciousness present in the Heart of the Lotus. What a delightful, exquisite condition! Perhaps regrettably, there was no temporal perception present, preventing any assessment of the duration of this state, but it ended abruptly, and the author returned immediately to his material perception of the "world" in his living room - the same, and yet changed forever... (21)

          The author's subsequent research has led him to suppose that the experience of the Heart of Sahasrara was very probably either identical to the Soul, or as close to it as one can hope to come - he was certainly completely unaware of his physical form for the duration (in fact, of the entire process starting with the Tree of Life Vision) - tending to confirm the Yoga belief that Sahasrara is actually located outside the body, beyond even the Astral perception of the other Chakras. This may be taken as evidence that the Soul, wherever it is (the author believes that it is everywhere, though this requires the type of altered perception he achieved to observe) definitely exists, although beyond material expression. It currently appears that the Self, the Soul, and the Logos are different manifestations of the same condition - knowable, however, only through the profoundly altered states of consciousness present in Spiritual Yoga. (22)

           Jung believed that the exact nature of the Archetypes was unknowable - genetically encoded in the tissue structure of the brain - and not subject to direct perception. They do, however, generate Archetypal Symbols which the mind/ego (note the use of the lower case "m", referring to the personal mind, not the Cosmic Mind analogous to the Self) can perceive, although as symbolic content that must be personally investigated to be completely understood... (23)

                                                             Addendum

           In deference to medical science, the author wishes to note that, of the twelve  cranial nerves, no less than five effect optical functioning - the eyes are that important to human functioning and survival! (24)

            This is of significance to my visions in Samadhi, because, although the experiment that Christmas took place in both daylight and darkness, the Ascension sequence of the Tree of Life just recounted took place shortly after sunrise on Christmas Day, as the author looked out of his window onto the brilliant, shimmering surface of the lake outside. The author suspects that the slight "chop" (wind disturbing the lake surface), along with the cant of the window blinds, and the reflected nature of the light entering the room, attenuated the sunlight in the room just enough to flood the optical cortex with stimuli, without simultaneously causing optical discomfort, permitting the sustained exposure necessary for the vision to take place, given that he was already in deep trance at the time. (25)

            The author is aware of a specific meditative practice known as Sun Gazing, developed by the Russian mystic Omraam (Mikheal Aivanhov), which entails observing direct sunlight at sunrise and sunset through the closed fingers of the hand, used as an attenuator to diminish the light intensity. He suspects that he may have inadvertently practiced this technique through the circumstances described above - the chop of the lake surface, the adjustment of the blinds, and indirectly viewing the reflected surface of lake, as opposed to gazing directly at the sunrise through the closed fingers of the hand. When coupled with the sustained trance of the experiment, Samadhi was enabled! Perhaps some experiments could be conducted using a combination of these factors to reproduce this experimental outcome! Namaste, All...(26)

 

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