Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Carl Jung was an important 20th century alchemist, but he did not spend years in a tower with beakers and flasks.  The transformation he searched for was within himself.  Psychology and Alchemy (Princeton University Press 1980) has been widely available, though not so widely accessible,  and  in the 21st century his notebook The Red Book was published (W.W. Norton 2009).

The Red Book is like a journal, but is much more.  He illustrated his dreams and visions.  This drawing of a Mandala reminds me of some of the images in the Voynich Manuscript.  Here is an image from the Red Book and an image from the German alchemy book Die Gab Gottes 1598

Jung said,  “The real mystery does not behave mysteriously or secretively; it speaks a secret language, it adumbrates itself by a variety of images which all indicate its true nature. I am not speaking of a secret personally guarded by someone, with a content known to its possessor, but of a mystery, a matter or circumstance which is “secret,” i.e., known only through vague hints but essentially unknown. The real nature of matter was unknown to the alchemist: he knew it only in hints. In seeking to explore it he projected the unconscious into the darkness of matter in order to illuminate it. In order to explain the mystery of matter he projected yet another mystery – his own psychic background -into what was to be explained.”  —Psychology and Alchemy (Part 3 Chapter 2).

In the Hermetica of Elysium I tried to show both aspects of the medieval alchemists.  I wanted to describe how the people who were focused on earthly treasure and power sought to gain an advantage over their competitors using any means possible…including maintaining a resident alchemist who was supposed to be working on turning base metals to gold, while at the same time he was really working on discoveries of the mind.  This is a fertile field for adventure and excitement…how could a novelist resist?

Jung spent years in research, and his collected works would take years to study.  His ideas about what it means to be a human being have tremendously influenced the field of psychology.  His Synchronicity theories tie in with String Theory and link psychology with theoretical physics in ways that make both psychologists and physicists uncomfortable.

Remember, magic is just science we don’t understand.







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This is my favorite quote from Richard Bach, the Metaphysician.  Henry Ford, the Pragmatist, said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right!”

I wouldn’t be pounding this concept so hard if I didn’t see the problems people create for themselves every day at work just because their thinking is skewed.  So many many times each day I hear a co-worker bemoan some “fact” about his or her reality that just isn’t “true”.  I put true in quotations because Truth (with a big T) is very definitely subjective.  If you are accepting something as True, then it is.  The obverse is also true.  If my colleagues would say, “I am not satisfied with the way this project is progressing, and I am discussing alternatives with the other folks in my group” then I would smile and nod.  But that is not what they say.

They say, “Mary ruined the project with her stupid idea” or “Management was unreasonable when they demanded this be done on a deadline” or better yet, “Everyone is putting me down and not letting me do my work”.  I love that one.  Do you see the drift?  If something is not going well, it is someone else’s fault.

Do these folks honestly believe in their heart-of-hearts that they are infallible?  Do they really think that if they had complete and total control of the project it would turn out perfectly and on time?  I don’t think so.  I think they are making all that noise so when the criticism comes, it is aimed at someone else.  Deflection to protect their egos.

An how is the ego damaged by failure?  Are You what people think of You?  or are You something else?

A great many people define themselves by what others think of them, and how do they know?  Unless they are reading minds, they are guessing.  This makes for an unwieldy self-image.  You are what you THINK others are THINKING about you.  All comes back to what you think… again.

Our culture encourages this way of self-image because it sells a lot of products (from beauty products to self-help books!).  Young people are nearly impossible to impress with any other way of thinking.  To them it IS vitally important which table they sit at in the cafeteria.

I would say that no amount of public approval will completely satisfy an insecure Ego.  The insecure will always focus on the one negative comment, as if anything less than complete agreement or complete adulation is unacceptable.

Impossible, therefore massive psychological misery.

You are NOT what others think of you.  You are what you think of yourself.  This is manageable.  If you are dissatisfied with yourself, you can change the way you  think of your Self.  It is more difficult (and expensive) to change the way others think of you.  Even then you cannot be sure.

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