Complementation in Psychology

Picasso: Night Fishing at Antibes
“Night Fishing at Antibes”. Pablo Picasso (1939).

Abstract: Complementation is put forward as an enhancement of the ruling paradigm in psychology. It is defined as the reversion of libido (psychic energy) into a relatively unconscious state associated with spirituality. It corresponds to the practice of ‘unknowing’ in the contemplative tradition of negative theology (‘via negativa’). The one-sided focus on unconscious integration has deleterious consequences as libido is expected to flow perpetually in the conscious direction. Eventually, it becomes an impediment to individuation. Carl Jung’s book “Answer to Job” is criticized from this perspective. There are also destructive consequences for society when notions of integration and wholeness manifest as cultural radicalism and Neo-Marxist ideology. Incarnation is the theological analogue of integration. It is counterbalanced by the glorification of God, which is equally essential. The religious sacrifice caters for the spirit. Psychology ought to give similar attention to unconscious replenishment. Complementation is associated with the praxis of mystical tradition, central to which is abstemious conduct and social withdrawal.

Keywords: Gnosticism, alchemy, scintilla, sacrifice, disidentification, Neo-Paganism, Man of Sorrows, St Anselm, satisfaction atonement, sexual cult, Book of Job.


According to the Maya and the Aztec, the primordial sacrifice of the gods was quite a bloody affair. The severed limbs and heads of the gods gave rise to everything we see. In psychological terms, the unconscious archetypes sacrifice themselves for the growth and prosperity of the conscious world. It’s a central motif in the history of religion, where it pertains to the sacrifice and death of the deity. However, in pagan theology mankind also makes payback in the form of atonement sacrifice. This gives life back to the gods, which is equally essential. This is the blood sacrifice. In Christian mythology the Son of God sacrifices himself for humanity whereas the Son of Man sacrifices himself to God. It works both ways.

The sacrifice in modern trinitarian [1] terms builds on the same underlying idea as in pagan culture. It is a reimbursement that serves to provide the divine sphere with lifeblood. In the modern era, it pertains to devotional practices, i.e. to devote conscious time and effort to the service of God. By resort to prayer, contemplation, and pious labour, the disciple sacrifices his/her conscious energy to the unconscious spirit. The individuant, to a degree, becomes a reclusive. Jungian psychology, however, has no theory around it, but tends to view the unconscious as a cornucopia capable of creating endless yield. It comes from the fact that Carl Jung rejects the trinity to the advantage of the quaternity.

Theological and psychological notions sometimes mirror each other. In many ways the relation between the worldly and the divine corresponds with the relation conscious-unconscious. Thus, ‘incarnation’ signifies the embodiment of the spirit in daylight reality whereas ‘integration’ signifies the emergence of an unconscious content in the floodlight of consciousness. As the divine and unconscious realms both represent the “great unknown”, they could be partly overlapping spheres. A modernized trinitarian psychological theory would serve to supplement oldfangled trinitarian mystical theology. I have suggested the term ‘complementation’ for that slow process, aided by a mild conscious focus, which is symbolically represented by alchemical circular distillation and transformations in the vessel. Although Jung’s work on alchemy is highly valuable, he misunderstands the symbol of the vessel. The process serves a higher purpose than mere integration with consciousness. By way of an historical example, complementation corresponds to the eating of the divine sparks or soul-fragments, by the Borborian Gnostic, for the subsequent transportation to the supra-celestial sphere. The Borborians resolved to eat any kind of revolting substance — a practice which earned them the name Borborians or ‘filthy ones’. In doing this, they believed that they collected the scattered soul-fragments in order to transmit them, in the end, to the heavenly world (cf. Walker, 1983, p.129).

It is possible, also for modern man, to perform the sacrificial work along such lines (without falling to morbid concretization and eating of filth). The scintillae (sparks) are, in fact, visible to the mind’s eye. When the spirit dispersed in the world is recognized, it becomes absorbed. It will replenish the spiritual unconscious, invoking circular distillation. In alchemical symbology, the early morning dewdrops correspond to the soul-sparks that were left behind at the world’s creation. The gathering activity will lead to the emergence of a living being of purest gold. Interestingly, modern practical alchemists understand this in a concrete way. They are using special equipment to gather the morning dew in the grass. Evidently, an enhanced psychological understanding is essential to complete the picture. A concrete understanding isn’t exactly wrong, but is merely ritualistic and therefore not good enough.

The Jungian misinterpretation

Jungian psychology is a good tool for understanding the unconscious with respect to mythological products and the analysis of patients. However, it was Jung’s expectation that Jungian psychology would develop far beyond this and that it would have a pronounced impact on the world. He said at the end of his life that he was disappointed with his achievement. Jungian psychology hasn’t made an inroad into the universities nor has it become a prominent discipline for spiritual development. The Jungian movement has experienced disintegration, to boot. I hold that introversion has been misapplied as a tool of individuation. [2] Alchemy and its terms, e.g. circular distillation, have in some ways been misinterpreted. It has divested Jungians of the most precious tool of relating to the unconscious. Instead, the romantic vein in Jungian psychology has grown to a strong gale in Archetypal Psychology. Philosophical speculation has generated an unscientific metaphysic, involving synchronicity, etc., which makes Jungian psychology forever estranged from science. Jung adopted a negative view of the trinity and trinitarian mystical theology whereas he overestimated the “quaternarian worldview” with its pagan connotations. Jung also developed a complex regarding modern art, which he saw as “morbid” (cf. Wojtkowski, 2009, here).

Jung’s ambitious conception is the grand one, in which the Self [3] encompasses all the opposites. The individuant must not withdraw from the world but ought to struggle with the opposites. It is an heroic conception, since it stipulates an incessant engagement with the unconscious archetypes. In order to come to terms with such difficult psychological problems we must have recourse to the wisdom of the unconscious. The following “alchemical” dream, from my early twenties, seems to compensate for what I today regard as the Jungian misinterpretation:

I had found a rare fruit whose stone was visible because it protruded from the pulp. Due to this damage it was capable of generating the most exclusive sweetness. I created a brew from the fruit and left it to ferment in the dark cellar for a long time. Eventually I went down in the cellar, and poured the brew into a thimble. Its colour was a very dark red. I drank from the thimble. It was the most concentrated and refined flavour that I’ve ever tasted.

The dream goes against the grain of Jungian psychology as the brew is left on its own in the darkness. There is no need for an intervention of consciousness. The conscious mind initiates the process, waits a long time, and goes down and fetches the brew when its ready. Moreover, it revolves around something very tiny: a mere thimblefull of ‘red elixir’. This represents alchemical ‘circular distillation’. In another dream a midget approached me and pronounced: “It’s better to be a little fountain that spouts water than to be a large fountain whose source has run dry.

Evidently, my unconscious opposed the view of the Self as the “large fountain” that encompasses all opposites, including a worldly career. Nor did it condone the Jungian view of the relation to the unconscious, namely as an heroic struggle. Since this represents my personal equation it is not necessarily relevant to all people. But my point is that Jungian psychology builds, to a large degree, on Jung’s personal equation, which has led to a partial misinterpretation of the psyche. It is not altogether wrong, but neither is it the whole truth. Jung’s psychology focuses on the “large fountain” but forgets about the “little fountain”. This explains why he could not appreciate modern art, which belongs to the trinitarian mystery of transcendence.

Yet, this is merely how Jung expresses it in theory. In practice, Jung closed himself into a little room, where he wrote slightly awkward texts and made paintings that were lacking in artistic value. He also built castles in the sand. So he seems to have pointed the way to the “little fountain” in his actions. The problem is that he interprets this activity for us in grandiose terms as an archetypal “primordial experience”. His metaphysical proclivity took over when he theorized about his experiences. It is especially evident in his view of the mandala, which to him denotes the totality of life and portrays the architecture of the psyche. By painting them he encompasses life’s phenomena and forges them into a wholeness, an esoteric practice with pronounced effects on personality, that will also have a synchronistic (divine coincidental) impact. It is overmuch. As evident from his autobiography, he struggled against the unconscious insistence that his mandalas were ‘mere art’ (cf. Jung, 1989, ch.6).

The mandala would symbolize the little fountain, which serves as an escape from life’s encumbrance. It’s a loophole into another transcendental world, away from our conscious obsessions. When Jung sought refuge in his little room under the staircase he spent time incubating in the “little world”, which is modest and unassuming. This place was remote from the big world and its conscious affections, including Jungian tenets of the stages of individuation. During this time, the elixir is allowed to brew quietly in the unconscious. The “smallest of sparks” (‘scintillulae’) that are being gathered through this process, is the spirit proper.

The fundamental Jungian tenets ought to be corrected along such lines, augmented with a sound and modernized psychological version of trinitarian mystical theology. Not only will it gain scientific respectability in the eyes of academia, but it will help to solve the spiritual frustration that I sense in the critics of Jungian psychology. Arguably, the focus on integration could lead to a blockage of individuation. Jung also had an infatuation with the themes of ‘coniunctio oppositorum’, ‘complexio oppositorum’, etc. (cf. Henderson, 2010, here). The Jungian Self is the “large fountain” that encompasses all the opposites. After all, Jung had his gaze fixed on the unconscious and he relates what he saw. In fact, the Self constellates in such compensatory form because the conscious standpoint of Jung’s is that of “differentiation”. In order to become an individual one must prune away everything that doesn’t belong to personality. On the other hand, when themes of integration and Self of Completeness are elevated as ideals, what follows is that differentiation is thwarted. It gives rise to a similar problem as in Christianity, namely a sanctimonious form of imitatio Christi. There is a tendency toward imitating the ideals of a complete personality that has integrated into itself the nature of the opposite sex and is equally much engaged in the world as devoted to active imagination. This is not integration proper — it is imitation, which is the hallmark of religion.

The pagan sacrifice

The pagan sacrifice served as a means to free the spirit. Obviously, if somebody is killed, his spirit is freed and goes to heaven. This means that something valuable has been removed from earthly existence and been accorded the heavenly kingdom. The pagans also sacrificed beautiful items, such as ornamented golden shields. They “killed” these valuable things by breaking them in two, in order to free their spirit. The sacrificial items were typically beautifully ornamented, similar to royal regalia, and were often designed for the sole purpose of sacrifice. During the Iron Age in Sweden, it was common practice to sacrifice swords (a highly valuable commodity) by throwing them into sacred bogs. During the sacrificial act, the swords were broken.

From the point of view of the unconscious archetype, the experience is reversed. In pagan mythology, the god experiences “death”, or severe diminution, when it enters earthly existence. It means that the spirit gives up its autonomy as it is chained to earthly reality. When God took on human flesh it was, from his perspective, equal to severe debasement and restriction. God sacrificed himself by becoming human, which means that an enormous boon was granted humanity. Yet humanity is obligated to sustain the spiritual world, otherwise things risk going very wrong. As subjects to the divine, it is our responsibility that the unconscious spirit retains its autonomy. It requires that a continual devotional practice be upheld in the form of sacrifice. In order to make up for the great gifts that are accorded humanity, we must take on responsibility for the divine sphere, because it is a very risky situation when it is undergoing depletion. The spiritual brew must keep simmering in the unconscious. The more gifts received, the more acute the theme of sacrifice. The mythic mirrored worldview concerns the fact that conscious realization means debasement or even death from the perspective of the unconscious. It is the real meaning of the recurrent motif of the dying god (cf. Winther, 2009, here).

The sacrifice of God means that sin is removed from humanity, as we needn’t wander in darkness anymore. To sin means to “miss the goal” and to be inept. Humanity isn’t inept anymore, but has developed remarkable aptitude in many ways. Jesus, in turn, resolved to take sin away from God, which means that God is restored to glory. In St Anselm’s (c. 1033-1109) formulation Christ’s sacrifice repays God for “lost honour”, which signifies a loss of moral vitality (cf. Wiki, here). Jesus dies as the worst of sinners, in likeness to Adam. He has been elevated to the highest glory ever appointed a living being, receiving gifts of clear-sightedness that nobody else has acquired, because he was exempt from original sin. Yet he sacrifices his royal regalia. The notion of double salvation is well-known in pagan theology. Indra and Shiva must come down to earth to expiate their sin. By entering earthly existence they remove the sin of the world. However, at the same time, their worshippers are involved in transferring their own merit to the gods, in order for them to regain their vitality (cf. Doniger, 1980, pp.141ff). From the perspective of the gods, to regain vitality (i.e., to remove divine sin) means to restore autonomy, so that they may continue their life in the spiritual abode, afar from earth. Redemption thus works both ways. According to this logic, the more gifts we have received in life (especially gifts of personality, such as intellect) the stronger is the sacrificial impetus. We must redeem the god as he has bestowed on us such a great sacrifice — he has stifled himself and given up his autonomy, for us. The ancients knew this, but we have lost this insight, something which spells disaster.

There are, it seems, two version of ‘imitatio Christi’. The modern version is to be good like Jesus and give money to the poor (despite the fact that Jesus never gave money to the poor). This amounts to an identification with God, since it imitates God’s work in removing the sinfulness of the world, by way of his incarnation. But traditional asceticism means to transfer one’s own merit to God, that is, to perform a sacrifice of one’s own life for the benefit of the spirit. Thus, the ascetic takes on his shoulders the burden of divine sin and, like Simon of Cyrene, helps Jesus carry the cross. Thus, ‘imitatio Christi’, in its right form, equals the sacrifice of the pagans, namely to transfer merit to God but not to humanity. Modern Christians, however, only want to remove the sin of the world. But so much divine goodness has already been bestowed upon humanity, whereas God longs for redemption due to his great sacrifice. That’s why religion, in the modern era, often opposes the spiritual way. Of course, from a Jungian perspective, it is easy to understand that pretending to be good leads to an accumulation of the shadow, [4] with horribly evil consequences. The unconscious becomes sick and chock-full of sin.

According to Jung we must integrate the shadow and resolve to carry our own sin, which is regarded an easy accomplishment. But he rejects the notion that we should carry the sin of God — in psychological terms — contribute to the autonomy of the archetypal realm. Yet, it can only be accomplished by a redemptive work that involves sacrifice. The essential shadow problem really revolves around the shadow of God. But when the individuant sets out to draw even more lifeblood from the living God (which Jung equates with the unconscious), the shadow-problem grows even bigger. However, Jung and M-L von Franz had the insight that we must not overcharge the unconscious. They realized that there’s a point in remaining moderately unconscious, although they never theorized much around it. This theoretical lopsidedness gave rise to Edward F. Edinger’s egomaniacal psychology (cf. Winther, 1999, here). Drug use, or ‘profane spirituality’, is also a means of overcharging the unconscious.

Jung never delves deeply into this, the most important aspect of human culture, namely the sacrifice to the gods. Only the sacrifice of the gods was important to him. Like modern Christians, he tends to see the divine sphere (the unconscious) as an eternal horn of plenty. Although it’s not a ‘summum bonum’ in the moral sense, he viewed it as such in another sense. In Jung’s understanding, the individual’s duty is to excavate the unconscious and deprive it of its goods. He is an entirely modern capitalist entrepreneur in this sense. He sees the Christ as a symbol of the Self, signifying wholeness, and turns a blind eye to the other aspect, namely Jesus as the most wretched being on this earth, anything but whole and dignified. He is the poor little human being compelled to sacrifice his enormous merit to God, and he dies a sinner. Having been born to the highest glory ever appointed a human being, he dies a broken and tormented man, subject to scorn and ridicule. Accorded the role of a moron and a loser, maladjusted for life on this earth, his divine genius is thoroughly sacrificed.

In Isaiah (The Suffering and Glory of the Servant, ch.52-53) is portrayed a righteous man, highly exalted yet “disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness”. It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, to make his life an offering for sin. It is due to the servant’s exalted righteousness that he is capable of carrying the sin of God. This is divine sin transference. The atonement sacrifice allows God regained vitality by the transfer of ‘sin’ carried by the divine. The notion that the Servant makes intercession and bears the sin of many, means that he takes upon himself divine sin in the stead of others. It allows others to go free. The Book of Job centers around this very theme. Also the Christ is marred beyond human likeness. He gives his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mark 10:45). In what way do these human qualities correspond to the archetype of the Self?

The Jungian quaternarian [5] Self denotes worldly wholeness, which suggests the image of a “complete” and successfully individuated human being, who has developed his gifts to the utmost. It seems that Jung has left out that other aspect of the Self, namely the trinitarian Self, or the Self of Transcendency, the theme of which is to be devoted to the salvation of God, but not to one’s own individuation and “completion” in the world. Christ represents both these aspects. He is both God and a miserable human being. This suggests two complementarian aspects of Self. Arguably, Jung says only half the truth about the human Self. He focuses on the integration (assimilation) of the unconscious and the redemption of mankind (reception of divine boons that are bestowed upon us thanks to the sacrifice of gods), but forgets about the redemption of God, which is connected with a life of sacrificial duty.

The meaning of the sacrifice is not simply to disrupt or destroy the unconscious condition in order to awaken to higher consciousness. We must attempt to interpret the sacrifice in psychological terms, since the theological understanding of the sacrifice, regardless of its sophistication, is not well suited for the modern mind. Jungian active imagination is designed to extract the goods of the unconscious for the benefit of consciousness. This is the reason why it works so badly, because so much good has already been bestowed upon us, while the lonely Christchild is adrift in the darkness of the wood. There is need for a better spiritual technique that works the other way, one that replenishes the spiritual unconscious and gives the forgotten Christchild the warmth and nourishment that he craves.

Meister Francke: Man of sorrows, with the Arma Christi and angels
“Man of Sorrows, with the Arma Christi and angels”.
Meister Francke (c. 1430). Wikimedia Commons.

Answer to Job

According to Jung, central to the divine drama is God’s struggle to become conscious. In Answer to Job (CW 11), the Book of Job is interpreted from this premise. God needs man, here represented by Job, to attain greater consciousness. The moral ambivalence and irrationality of the Godhead is a function of his unconsciousness, which the encounter with Job served to palliate. Thus, he analyses the Godhead as if it were a human ego, capable of projecting his shadow on Job. Jahve suspects Job of being unfaithful. However, in Jung’s understanding, this is a projection of guilt, since Jahve already has it in his heart to sever the covenant with Israel in the new Christian revelation.

What underlies Jahve’s wish to “regenerate” himself, by means of the incarnation, is the realization that his own creature — homo sapiens — has surpassed him on a moral plane. Allegedly, Jahve came to realize that Job, in their mutual encounter, came off as the moral victor. Thus, Jung comes to the conclusion that “[the] real reason for God’s becoming man is to be sought in his encounter with Job” (Jung, 1979, p.55). By incarnating as the Christ he would himself experience the suffering that he has caused his faithful servant, resulting in an advancement of the moral awareness in the Godhead. Jung performs a psychoanalysis of Jahve as if he were a mere human ego with a neurotic problem, in Jahve’s case ambivalency and dictatorialness due to moral unconsciousness. This, however, violates the psychological axiom that the archetype (in this case the Self) is not to be understood as a humanlike ego but rather as an abstraction that serves to express the difficulties and dangers that we typically encounter in life. Jung here makes a personalistic interpretation on Freudian lines. However, when the archetype is subjected to a projection of ego psychology, it typically results in the dissolution of the very healing element of the archetypal narrative (cf. Winther, 2009, here).

The narrative revolves around the theodicé problem, namely why the righteous must suffer. Jung’s take on this is that God uses Job as a factor in his inner psychological development, pushed by a current toward higher consciousness. Job serves as a springboard for God, as it were. Job, however, is a mere legendary figure who should not be viewed as a real person in the same sense as Jesus of Nazareth. Job was at the time a legendary name, like Noah. He was known as a man of antiquity renowned for his righteousness. This is the reason why the author uses the name of Job for his narrative. Ezekiel alludes to him, too. Accordingly, the author sets his story outside Israel, in southern Edom or northern Arabia. Thus, there is no connection, in the story, to the epoch in Israel that preceded God’s incarnation. Moreover, Jung gives expression to a surprising naiveté when he says that “the real reason for God’s becoming man is to be sought in his encounter with Job”. In fact, such an encounter never took place, since the Book of Job is a short story written by some talented novelists (the Elihu speeches are generally regarded as a later addition — cf. Wikipedia, here).

Rather, Job should be viewed as a personification of the sufferings of mankind, that is, he is an abstraction — an archetype. Isaiah has made a masterful portrait of this archetype, which he calls the Servant (ch.52-53). This is also how theologians interpret Isaiah’s suffering man, namely as a prefiguration and harbinger of Christ, and not as an actual person. It is all the more surprising that Jung subjects the Self to such a naive personification, since he is himself the author of the archetypal approach. Allegedly, God suffers from a psychological problem with apparent neurotic features, while Job functions as the psychoanalyst in this drama. Thus, Job finds himself in a transference-countertransference relationship with God, resulting in an elevated conscious level in the patient. The therapeutic situation is used as prototype for the divine drama. Eventually, the patient “lands in reality”. God, by putting himself in suffering mankind’s place, comes to realize how ruthless he has been. Accordingly, he has consciously integrated the empathic function and, since his impasse is now resolved, he can continue on his way as a socially adapted and well-functioning deity.

It is no wonder that Jung saw humanity as essential in the divine drama, since man may serve as divine therapist leading God toward conscious realization. But one cannot employ principles and structures of human psychology and analyze God in terms of these. That is putting the cart before the horse. Jung’s interpretation of Job is predicated on his predilection for conscious integration. His therapeutic exegesis depends on the idea that God is equatable with the unconscious as a whole. After all, we cannot know the metaphysical nature of the unconscious, which at the deepest level could be world-permeating. In Jung’s view, the integration of the unconscious leads to untold blessings.

The underlying theme of Job is, obviously, the archetypal “Man of Sorrows” (‘vir dolorum’). Thus, it corresponds broadly to the archetypal narrative of Christ. Job is a perfectly righteous and pious man. Like Jesus, he is untainted by sin, which implies that he has manifested God’s spirit on earth, by following his guidance to the utmost. His life’s accomplishment, in itself, represents an incarnation of the spirit of God. Thus, Job is a son of God, of sorts. It is Job’s competence in incarnating God’s will that leads to his downfall. His work at integrating the divine, which includes building an earthly paradise in Edom, has led to the accumulation of sin in the Godhead. When the divinity becomes more and more tied down to earthly reality by godly men such as Job, it is tantamount to a depletion of divine autonomy and vitality. When divine reality becomes manifest on earth, in terms of various boons, it means the death of the god. At the very best, he will be diminished and nearly forgotten.

In terms of pagan theology, the “envy of the gods” is invoked when man aspires toward a godly stature. It is man’s hubris (that is, his proclivity to become like a god) that leads to calamitous consequences. Therefore, it is necessary to give offerings. In Job’s case, the sacrifice is forced upon him. He loses his cattle, servants, children, his enormous wealth, and finally his health. The story of Christ is similar; a virtuous and exalted servant of God sacrifices all his merit to God, even unto death. In terms of pagan notions of sin transference, the deity who risks being stifled by the strong gravity of consciousness, unburdens his load of divine sin on man. As a result, the divine wings may grow out again, granting him the powers of free flight in the beyond. The worshipper who, by his own example, manifests the divine on earth, is also responsible for transferring his own merit to the god. It guarantees that the divinity may remain a powerful numen, animated and self-willed. The divine libido must always keep circulating in both directions. Jung’s idea, that the incarnation of Christ served as an atonement for the sufferings of Job, doesn’t hold water. After all, what takes place in Christ’s life is essentially the same thing. If Jung regards Job’s sufferings as a crime against Job, why would repeating the crime against a new Son of Man serve to indemnify the former crime? In fact, the Book of Job is an overture to the Passion of Christ.

Jung’s therapeutic view of the divine drama, in terms of the psychology of integration, leads us in the wrong direction. In his terms, the remedy consists in the conscious integration of divine mind swamped in unconsciousness. This would also be the impetus behind the incarnation. In fact, it’s the reverse: the sufferings of the Man of Sorrows has its background in the one-sided direction of libido, towards integration, worldly insight, and ever more opulence. It appears, judging from the end of the book, that Job’s great sacrifice has had a wholesome effect on Jahve. He has truly recovered. The Lord dares Job to wield his powers, should he be capable of it:

Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee (Job 40:9-14).

Thus, the Lord makes known that human pride will awaken his wrath. He will bring them to dust; those men who adorn themselves with glory and splendour.

Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:2-6).

Until now, God has been present merely in words, that is, the spirit had in Job’s days (in fact, in the time of the authors) become thoroughly routinized. The spirit had become established on earth in rituals and in the words of the Holy Book, but been forgotten as a numinous power. But now, when his earthly splendour and glory has been stripped away from him, Job can see God for the first time. Concurrently with Job’s reduction to a sinful human being, God takes on his rightful dimension as the creator of the universe, appearing to Job as a world-shattering numinosum. Thus, the drama unravels in the exaltation and magnification of God. However, this is really the opposite of Jung’s resolution in the form of worldly incarnation (integration). Instead of becoming even more integrated in human life, the deity (the Self) emancipates itself from the forceful synthetic power of human consciousness, and thus reconquers its rightful throne in heaven (the archetypal unconscious sphere). This is the function of the sacrifice, namely to give lifeblood back to God. Job, as a son of God, experiences death and rebirth, in a sense. We must not look upon this drama with our modern moral eyes, thinking that Job has not received proper satisfaction. Mere human ethics, in terms of UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, don’t apply in the divine drama. In the end, Job is wholly redressed. There is no reason to doubt that Job bowed down to God and wholly repented, although Jung thinks that he is only being “shrewd” (cf. Jung, 1979, p.31). It is a rehearsal for the advent of Christ.

Jung dwells at some length on Jahve’s “anamnesis” of Sophia. This personification of feminine divine wisdom occurs in the biblical wisdom books, which were written at approximately the same time as Job. Sophia says:

I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence… (Proverbs 8:27-30).

Jung makes the conclusion that Jahve longs after “wisdom”, the beloved one from the beginning of time, whom he has forgotten. He understands this as the longing in the Godhead after conscious realization. But Sophia (Wisdom) traditionally represents the feminine spirit that fell into the world and became fettered in matter, responsible for its beauty and orderliness. Jahve’s remembrance of Sophia would indicate a pining after the very lifeblood of the divine — his love and passion — that is become one with the daylight world. He wants a return of the spirit that was sacrificed at the creation of the world and was consigned to oblivion at the rise of human consciousness. Thus, the return of Sophia would signify the very opposite of conscious integration, which has come to drain the deity. Arguably, it is from this perspective that we must see the promulgation of the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. To Jung, however, the Assumption signifies the beginning conscious realization of the completeness of the quaternity, as opposed to the “imperfect” wholeness of the trinity.

In point of fact, the drama is resolved already in the Book of Job in the glorifying effect — on God — of Job’s sacrifice. God wants this sacrifice. Isaiah says about the Suffering Servant that it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and to make his life an offering for sin. However, Job ought to be seen as the suffering man in general, and not as a person in history who had an impact on God at a particular instance in time. The authors had the sufferings of the Jewish people in mind. Job functions as a personification of all the righteous Jews that must suffer. It is clear that the authors reject the notion that true godliness consists in the realization of earthly success, even if the subject remains righteous and follows all God’s commandments.

The pagan world was materialistic in the sense that worldly goods and success were viewed as boons of the gods. If a person had riches and beauty it was a clear sign that he/she was patronized by the gods. In the beginning of our era, pagan spirituality had run its course. Its degradation into materialism created a rebound in an extremely spiritual type of religion, namely Christianity. Worldly goods and chattels, or individual talent, weren’t proofs that a person was favoured by God. In fact, “many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matt. 19:30). The authors vouch for a different relation to the divine, according to which humility and simpleness are the ideal to follow. In approximately the same time, Gautama Buddha arrives at the same conclusions. Yet, in the Jewish rendition it takes expression as the Man of Sorrows who is a leprous outcast. Probably the violent image serves as compensation for the equally unrestrained materialistic (matriarchal) interpretation of the divine.

So the Book of Job speaks of the “upward” path of the spirit; the way in which both mankind and the daylight world are reduced before the divine. It is really the opposite of Jung’s interpretation, which has taken away the healing element of the story. So should anyone want to rebuild Solomon’s Temple, at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, he is making the same mistake as Job. Instead of erecting more temples to all the gods that we presently worship, we should repent in dust and ashes, which is what the Buddha willfully did and what Job was forced to do.

Maurice Denis: April, Anemones
“April, Anemones”. Maurice Denis (1891).


In the Gnostic worldview, it was incumbent upon man to restore the fallen spirit, scattered in existence, to its divine abode. The different mythologies give diverse versions of the fall, typically involving subsequent emanations of the supreme God, of which the lowest emanation, namely Sophia, eventually fell into physis. The fall gave rise to the physical cosmos. It implies that the soul-sparks have been present as long as matter has existed. So this is a myth about the spiritual restoration of God, that is, it centers upon the redemption of divinity and not the redemption of humanity. The individual redeems himself by collecting the scintillae divina (divine sparks) in order to transmit them in the end to the heavenly world, upon his own ascent. Thus, the individual human being devotes time and strength for the benefit of God. In traditional Christian theology, it’s the reverse; the Christ sacrifices himself for the salvation of mankind. Christ saves men through his vicarious suffering: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

Whereas Christianity focuses on the sacrifice of God for the salvation of man, Gnosticism sees the divine drama from the opposite perspective. Central to Gnostic theology is to make sacrifice for the salvation and preservation of the divine, whereas Christian theology focuses on the incarnation. Taken together, the two movements that sprang up in the first century represent a complete theology of double salvation, i.e., the incarnation of the god and his subsequent restoration (return). From a Christian standpoint, the latter journey is theologically uncomplicated, which is why it’s handled concisely: “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.” (Luke 24:51). In Christian Gnosticism, Jesus is a teacher, either wholly human or wholly spiritual, who initiates people into the secret of the spirit dispersed in material reality, and the way to its restoration. His magnitude in the divine drama varies depending on theology.

In Jung’s understanding, the divine light-sparks that lie fettered in matter symbolize archetypes that lie embedded in the unconscious, ready to be integrated with consciousness. The Gnostic divine drama would represent the grand theological backdrop, whereas the redemptive work of the Gnostic disciple corresponds to the integration of the unconscious performed by the psychologically enlightened individual. That’s why Jung thought that the Gnostics anticipated modern psychology. In reality, it’s the reverse. The fallen spirit (the Gnostic Sophia; the alchemical Mercurius) can only be brought back to its former glory by a slow process of complementation, whereby it is gathered and surrendered to an unconscious process. Thus, Jung prolongs the suffering of the god, while he persists with the idea that the archetypes must always be integrated and not restored. Jung’s misinterpretation has had a corrupting influence on the understanding of Gnosticism and alchemy. It’s far-fetched to interpret the divine restoration of the scintillae as conscious integration, for human consciousness cannot be the divine abode where cosmos had its beginnings.

Jung could not get Gnostic theology to square with his psychology of integration, which is probably why he abandoned his Gnostic studies. Alchemy is more nebulous and thus more suitable for one’s own preconceptions. (That said, Jung deserves great acclaim for bringing Gnosticism and alchemy back from forgetfulness.) Thoughts such as these lead to the following conclusion. ‘Complementation’ is suitable as a psychological term for the complementary opposite of the process of ‘integration’. There ought to be a “psychology of complementation” as a counterpart to Jung’s “psychology of integration”. A small theoretical amendment of psychology would make it complete, in the same sense as pagan theology makes a complete exposition of the divine drama. The spirit circulates in both directions. The offerings made by the pagan priests served to reimburse the gods for their great sacrifice of incarnation. Jung’s Christian bias upon incarnation (integration) would be complemented with a Gnostic bias upon personal sacrifice by way of spiritual method (complementation).

In the modern age, the paradigm of incarnation and integration has reached rock bottom. The dominance of this paradigm, that interprets spiritual movement only in one direction, has led to a world bathed in scorching sunlight. The fixation on conscious expansion, and the one-sided direction of libido, has brought about this situation. People are thirsting for spiritual water, but the source is running dry. We have neglected our duty to keep the spiritual brew simmering in the unconscious, because we forgot the lesson of the Gnostics and the mystics, namely to provide the source with divine libido. This does not mean to give up our conquests of consciousness, because there are pristine spiritual sparks present everywhere in the world, that have never been in circulation.

Complementation does not imply “deintegration” or “anti-integration” of our valued consciousness and its content. It implies a toning down of its luminosity, so that we may discern the fiery sparks in the darkness of physis. Thus, it connotes the partial sacrifice of our conscious obsessions, predilections, and attachments. It represents a form of introversion different from the form that Jung advocates. It is always, as in history, connected with self-denial and restrainment of desires. If Jung says that a majority of his patients came to him with a spiritual problem, I wonder how many would have benefitted from being guided along this path. The Gospel of Thomas speaks this kind of language. It is gently Gnostic and quite frugal, without much theology. It suits modern tastes. Here are some sayings (logia) that point at the presence of the divine in mundane things:

Jesus said: “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.” (77)

Jesus said: “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the Father’s kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you.” (3)

Jesus said: “The kingdom of the Father is like a woman carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking on a distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal poured out behind her on the road. She was unaware, she had not noticed the misfortune. When she came to her house, she put the jar down and found it empty.” (97)

Logion 97 is a creation myth, it seems. The point is that Sophia in Gnostic myth, by her negligence, disorganizes God’s creation. Her spirit is dispersed like meal in the wind. Every particle of meal represents a divine scintilla. The final phrase (“found it empty”) is, in an alternative reading of the original text, “fell into it”. Thus, this saying would represent the fall of Sophia, which results in the creation of material reality. The legend of the 3rd-century Christian martyr St Christopher (“Christ-bearer”) follows the theme of gnosis. It’s about St Christopher’s work to redeem God. Thus, it cannot be interpreted in Jungian terms as the integration of the unconscious. This version has been shortened by me:

Christopherus was a man of giant stature who vowed to serve only the strongest master. He did service for a king, but when the king was shaken at the mention of the devil, Christopherus realized that he wasn’t so strong after all. So, eventually, he went as far as offering his services to the devil. But when the devil shuddered at the sight of the cross that stood by the wayside, Christopherus decided to abandon him, too.
  After many years of repentance, and the daily toil of helping people across the river, he one day heard a child’s cry from the wood. He went out to search for it but could not find it. Only when the child cried for the third time he managed to find it. The little child needed help to get across the river.
  But as the child rode on Christopherus’s shoulders it got heavier and heavier, and Christopherus felt as if he carried the whole world on his back. He came close to drowning in the torrent, when his head went under the water. Yet, he continued to struggle, and finally managed to get across.
  At the other shore the child revealed that he was Christ Pantocrator. The Christchild told Christopherus to plant his staff in the earth, and the next day it carried leaves and bore fruit. Christopherus realized that he had finally found the strongest master.

The Christchild represents the faint voice present in nature, which can only be recognized if the devil (life’s temptations) is rejected and life is tempered according to a godly ideal. Christopherus found prayer and fasting difficult. Instead he chose to assist people at the river. Christopherus carries the spiritual spark (at first very inconspicuous) back to its divine origins at the other side of the river. With time, it grows heavier, which is symbolic of the accumulation of the divine substance. What does carrying the Christ mean? The devotee realizes the cosmic importance of his unworldly work, which is apparently unproductive and onerous to boot. Without mystical insight, he would infallibly fall prey to the distractions of the world. The oneness with Christ means that he carries an enormous dignity, which lends him great energy and focus of will, necessary to pursue the ‘opus’. The sinking into the river would signify immersion into dark ‘physis’ (the ‘nigredo’ of the alchemists), where the sparks are replete. The continued accumulation of faint spiritual sparks is what makes the Christchild (the Golden Child of alchemy) grow heavier and heavier. At the other side, in the Otherworld, the spirit comes into its own, and the tree that was dead bears fruit. Thus, the divinity has regained autonomy and vitality, relieved from its captivity in physis.

Christopherus carrying the Christchild
“Christopherus carrying the Christchild”.
Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1485).

(Wikimedia Commons)


The quaternity as an ideal of Self is associated with worldly completeness and the integration of the unconscious. The trinity is associated with worldly transcendence and the differentiation of personality away from worldly identification. Thus, the quaternity and the trinity complement each other. Integration proper must be preceded by differentiation. (Also in mathematics, they use integral calculus and differential calculus interchangeably.) It is necessary for the individual to differentiate himself away from collective identification. By example, the reason why the anima [6] constellates in the male psyche is because he has established a male psychic economy. He thinks and functions like a man. This has been accomplished by rejecting femininity and feminine ways, not as a matter of principle but as relevant to himself. As a result the true feminine will constellate in the unconscious, which is a necessary prerequisite for integration proper. Thus, men who lack an anima have failed at becoming true men. They still live with the mother complex, like mama’s boys — which is why they tend to hide behind a masculoid persona. (This is perhaps the most important factor behind female oppression in the world.)

The conclusion is that individuation involves both differentiation and integration. Jung, however, talks mostly about the unconscious and what he sees there. He seldom mentions that he himself is focused on differentiation and, for instance, excels at being an introvert. He sometimes withdraws into solitude and spends hours cooking food. Apparently, differentiation cannot always be distinguished from depreciation. It seems that Jung’s standpoint is that women are much different than himself, in certain ways inferior to men; that black Africans are primitives, and that extraverts are tiresome and superficial. The truth is that he has cut away much of human nature in an effort of differentiation. There are two types of women, he says, the mother and the ‘hetaira’ (companion prostitute) (cf. Shamdasani, 2012, p.34). It would imply that the truth about female nature is indeed disagreeable, and it’s a blessing to be a man. Moreover, he discusses the fear of “going black”, among white people in Africa, and explains that it’s necessary for white man to avoid this horrible fate by standing aside from black man, in order to avoid identification (cf. Jung, 1989, ch.9).

The concept of differentiation is undervalued in the modern world, where the ruling political theology revolves around “integration” and the “ideology of sameness”. Since the extraverts rule the roost in the psychological community, the consequence is an impediment to individuation. Extraverts have such a strong preference for surfing on the tidal wave. The average Jungian doesn’t seem to understand that the gist of individuation is to distance himself from his fellow men (at least mentally), to excel at being what he really is, and to prune away thoughtways that don’t belong in one’s head. Much like the Freudians, they attempt to integrate incompatible philosophies, such as Derrida, for example. Derrida belongs only in one place: the refuse bin. The same can be said about Hillman’s and Edinger’s books, including most of feminist literature.

This is how one becomes a true individual, by acknowledging how one differs from other people and that one stands apart from the ruling thoughtways of the time. It amounts to a realization of how frightfully wrongheaded and profane people are. This was central to the Christian mystics, who regarded the world as sinful (especially women, primitives, and all the worldly extraverts) and therefore chose to stand aside from the world. By pruning their own tree, they endeavoured to become “little fountains”, which is the alternative self-ideal, whose central principle is differentiation and perfection rather than integration. As a consequence the “Self of Completeness” constellates in the unconscious. But as long as the individual upholds completeness and integration as ideals, and attempt to imitate them, the Self is stifled as a consequence. It will not constellate in the unconscious, with the effect that the Self is shut out of personal life, and cannot be integrated. (Christian mysticism was plagued with its own pathology, however, since they had no notion of psychological integration.)

I take the view that religion, in the modern era, fulfills a destructive function in the way it stifles the spirit. Religion tends to promote an identification with the God image in the most superficial and materialistic way. Modern Christians, for instance, think that they should imitate Jesus in his goodness, which is detrimental to the process of spiritual restitution. They argue in their books that one should endeavour to be good like Christ and do good deeds (despite the fact that Jesus wasn’t exactly “good” but caused turmoil and cracked his whip in the temple area). They call it imitation of Jesus. This means, analogously with the above, that the Christ (the Self) will not constellate in the unconscious, with the effect that the divine is shut out of personal life, and cannot be integrated. Christian churches and Muslim mosques have become factories of evil. In Sweden, the psychosocial quality of diverse workplaces is investigated periodically. The Swedish Protestant Church always takes the first place for having the worst problems. In this Christian workplace people are continually bullied, which has led to many suicides. Instead of perfect goodness, normal decency should be hailed as moral ideal.

Religion belongs to the many worldly phenomena that are better amputated from personality, since it shuts the door to the divine experience. Nevertheless, religion remains a necessary factor of human life, in the same sense as hurricanes are a necessary factor of the weather system. I subscribe to the view that humanity has only two choices: either good, sophisticated, religion or bad religion (such as Nazi cult, Communism, modern consumerism”, etc.). As any student of comparative history of religion knows, religious cults have notoriously practiced human sacrifice. Thus, good religion functions as a bulwark against bad religion. Orthodoxy and Catholicism played a big role in the overcoming of Communism, since many people retained their faith. But those individuals who are capable of independence, shouldn’t take part in religion but instead focus on the spirit that underlies all religion. Thus, Jesus may come visiting like a thief in the night.

Central to the trinitarian ideal is to be your own minimal Self, which is the little fountain. Jung, however, took strong exception to the trinity and elevated the quaternity as the only proper symbol of the Self. Arguably, it’s because he overestimated what he saw in the unconscious, which has an animistic structure. He did not generally see this structure as compensatory, but as ingenerate. It follows that it is paradigmatic for the outer world, too. Jungians have made the observation that the archetypes, like the quaternarian Self, have become sedimented in tradition. They are unlikely to invoke the numinous, since they have been elevated as ideals. Arguably, if one identifies with the Self as a ‘complexio oppositorum’, it is unlikely to constellate in the unconscious, and individuation is closed out.

The modern predicament is that the Self is not allowed to live as an autonomous Other in the unconscious. It comes from the fact that the conscious personality does not endeavour to prune its own tree, but continues to identify with very many incompatible elements. Likewise, if a man sees feminine qualities as ideal and attempts to imitate them, the anima cannot constellate and gain autonomy in the unconscious. The trinitarian Self and the quaternarian Self are, in fact, complementary opposites and psychic wholeness is better described as complementarian (cf. Winther, 2011, here) .

Profane spirituality

Numinous experiences invoked by psychedelic drugs has attracted the interest of psychologists. It is likely to induce identification with the very many incompatible elements of human psychology. I suppose the same could be said about activities pertaining to oxymoronic ‘profane spirituality’, such as giving full expression to sexuality. There is a tendency that psychological thought takes a direction that serves to expand personality by way of psychological experience. Against this, I argue that proper psychological individuation should, to a much higher degree, involve differentiation: seclusion, negation, detachment, and self-abnegation (i.e. ego-abnegation).

Alcoholism is a form of ‘profane spirituality’. Jung remarks that the use of alcohol (Latin: ‘spiritus’) represents a craving for the spirit. In a letter to the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous he wrote about a former patient that his “craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.” (Wilson, 1987). The Romans used to inscribe on the tombstones of alcoholics and bon vivants that the deceased was a “worshipper of Bacchus”. Another form of profane spirituality would be sport events, during which spectators often work themselves up to a frenzy. The modern “consumerism cult” has erected huge temples in the form of shopping precincts. It is especially popular among women. They become obsessed with buying things, not because they need them but since shopping has a therapeutic effect. When primitive societies came into contact with the commercial practices of colonizers, it gave rise to the cargo cults. By way of ritual practices they sought to acquire much “cargo”. The highly coveted material things are at this level of culture carriers of spirit.

Pornography takes up 30% of the bandwidth on the Internet (Daily Mail, 9 April, 2012, here). Interestingly, according to Internet pornography statistics, 30% of the porn surfers are women. To 17% of them, it has become an obsession (The Washington Times, 11 July, 2010, here). Whether it’s alcoholism, sexual depravement, or any other obsession, it is likely to depend on spiritual deprivation. So profane spirituality represents a disease of our time. It is not something to strive after and to regard as a practicable spiritual path. At the same time, it is wholly understandable that people lose themselves in it. After all, the alcoholic has in a sense realized that he cannot live without the spirit, although the spiritual deprivation has taken a neurotic expression. Thus, the profanation of spirituality signifies that the spirit has become lost in profanity, from where it must be rescued. The alchemists said that the sublime spirit must be extracted from base matter. It could even be present in filth. The king who is drowning in the sea must be rescued.

Our daily discipline can be destroyed if we sink down into alcohol abuse or any other abuse. It represents a victory of unconsciousness over consciousness. Thus, profane spirituality represents a morally inferior state. Anyway, it’s hard to blame people, because the archaic spirit is a great allurement. Paedophilia, especially, seems to have an enormous power of enchantment on its sufferers. It is always connected with pornography. They are equally obsessed with it as the wino man with his bottle. Needless to say, if we all gave way to our own inclinations in terms of perversions, society would soon collapse. These are indeed mysterious phenomena. It seems to have something to do with a mildly ecstatic condition during which the ego transcends itself and connects with the spirit. In the Book of Enoch is mentioned the “reprobated mystery” that the angelic Watchers have brought to earth: “And this you have related to women in the hardness of your heart, and by that mystery have women and mankind multiplied evils upon the earth” (Enoch XVI:4).

So it seems that profane spirituality represents diverse techniques that serve to wring the spirit, against its will, out of the divine sphere (the unconscious). The most popular methods are use of alcohol and diverse narcotics. But this is really stealing from the gods. From the point of view of the archetypes, it is a criminal offence to make use of psychedelic drugs, since it forces them down into the conscious sphere, where they are greedily clutched by the ego. The synthetic function of the ego is such that it regards every content as “myself”. “I thought it! I felt it! It is me!” Archetypes are pinned down like butterflies (Gk. ‘animae’) in a collection. It is like torturing a divine animal, unceasingly, in order to wring the spirit from it. Ever since the days of Prometheus, stealing from the gods has been regarded an archetypal sin. Instead, the archetype must be allowed to sacrifice itself, when time is ripe, rather than being forced into the daylight world. In that case, their willing sacrifice is regarded a boon for mankind. The Narcissus story portrays the mystery of archetypal self-sacrifice. Arguably, it is the one-sided fixation on integration of the unconscious that has brought about this relatively sympathetic attitude towards stealing from the unconscious, with the aid of diverse techniques, such as hallucinogens, etc.

Pagan spirituality

Pagan spirituality is something quite different altogether. It is important to make this distinction. Perhaps it’s a conceptual confusion between the two that has given rise to the misunderstanding that contemporary depraved practices is a form of spirituality in its own right. Pagan spirituality builds on the reification (concretization) of spirit. Although blood is regarded as the spiritual substance par excellence, in the Gnostic conception all of reality carries sparks of the divine. St Augustine relates that, as part of Manichean cultic practice, “ground meal was sprinkled underneath a copulating pair to absorb the semen so that it could be mixed and consumed” (cf. Walker, 1983, pp.130-31).

These practices, however, were designed to extract the spirit from matter, which included the spirit bound up in our passions, such as sexual excitability. So it represents a ritualistic remedy of profane spirituality. This accounts for the enormous austerity of pagan religious practice. The Aztec Tezcatlipoca priests made incisions and sacrificed blood from their own body every day. They inserted cactus thorns into the foreskin so that blood would always drip from the penis. They were celibates. Burland says: “His hair was never cut and it was stained with splashes of blood from human sacrifices. Nor was it ever washed, so these strange, black figures were crowned with untidy masses of coiling, clotted locks, which apparently smelt horribly, and were infested with insects […] The regime of priestly life involved much fasting. Long periods of living on only three tortillas and a bowl of water a day resulted in an austere and dedicated personality” (Burland & Forman, 1980, pp.105-6).

Pagan spirituality was characterized by an sternness that is without counterpart. Although their rituals involved sexuality and violence, these practices represented the mortification of profane passion for the restitution of the divine. The ritual ingestion of the substantive life-spirit attempts at strengthening a conscious light which has grown feeble. It served to break out of unconscious wholeness, a condition rooted in the historical infancy of mankind. Such naive rituals were designed to overcome an unconsciousness which imprisons the spirit. Thus, pagan spirituality seems to compensate for profane spirituality, which equates to an indulgence in profanity. Such spiritual movements represent a regression into unconsciousness. They do not represent a way out for modern people. We ought instead to remedy the pagan leanings in psychology. In the trinitarian worldview the spirit is not naively reified, because it revolves around a sacrifice in the spirit.

Pagan spirituality had a therapeutic value in that it prevented regression to unconscious wholeness (cf. Winther, 2008, here). In the sacrificial act, the regressive bond with the unconscious is temporarily disrupted, because what is sacrificed is that which is valued most. It serves to free the spirit. Mircea Eliade explains that primitive man, in the initiation rite, attempts to pass beyond and to abolish “natural” humanity. Novices are exposed to physical suffering. Sometimes mutilations occur, like circumcision, tattooing, and scarring. At other times teeth are knocked out or fingers amputated. In this way the novice passes beyond “natural man” (cf. Eliade, 1959, pp.184-92). It means that their wholeness is being sacrificed, since they are not “whole” anymore. Limbs or teeth are missing; youthful beauty of skin is destroyed, etc. In order to conform to the monotony of social and societal life, it is necessary to cast off the ambivalence of primary wholeness. The conscious life of the adult requires strong discipline and severe restrictions of personality.

Thus, the so-called ‘reprobate mystery’ does not serve to liberate spirit. From the standpoint of an unwilling unconscious, it does just the opposite. It fastens the spirit, as it were, with a pin right through it, as a pinned down butterfly. The standpoint that pagan spirituality is regressive and morally inferior is, after all, uncontroversial. Of course, it is regressive to go backwards in time, to an earlier epoch, which does not correspond to the moral level of modern man. When Montezuma, king of the Aztecs, had witnessed the sacrifice of three young women by strangulation, he was overheard saying that it was a spiritually refreshing experience. I have no doubt that it was. The sacrifice served an important purpose and was regarded an act of utter holiness. But to my modern consciousness it is an appalling act of cruelty, and chockingly naive to boot. Nevertheless, it is possible to see it as an act of religious piety. It is an expression of a culture at a inferior level of consciousness. In fact, they wanted to make atonement to the spirit, but could only perform in an unconscious manner. They understood the symbol concretely instead of psychologically.

The pagan tendency of spiritual reification has deleterious consequences. According to the Neo-Pagan (New Age) worldview, a material thing, such as a crystal, is supposed to carry a good and wholesome spirit. Although it appears to be an innocuous concept, it has a sinister backside. A worldly object could also be the carrier of an evil and contaminated spirit. In historical times, cats with a wholly black pelt became the victims of persecution. They were sometimes put to death by throwing them into fire. The theme of “The Jew” as a carrier of evil spirit, keeps reappearing in Christian history. Characteristic of the pagan mental relapse is the reawakening of superstitious beliefs. Seemingly innocuous superstitions will awaken many shadowy beliefs and bring about a regressive change of mentality. Wholly predictably, the New Age movement has encountered internal problems with anti-Semitism. In fact, Germany’s Nazi epoch could be understood as a national Neo-Pagan cult. The pagan inclinations associated with the quaternarian and the Jungian worldview are not to be taken lightly. The trinitarian interpretation of psychology, associated with complementation, could serve as a remedial. The aim is to liberate the spiritual fragments imprisoned in matter, allowing them to conjoin in the unconscious, forming a ‘coniunctio oppositorum’.

Spiritual sexuality

The subject of sexuality as profane spirituality brings with it diverse shadowy phenomena, such as sadomasochism, transvestic fetishism, and paedophilia, which often involve cultic practices (see ‘Cult Killer: The Rick Rodriguez Story’, as sent on Channel 4, UK, here) Sexuality is a boring subject. Jung relates how bored he was when patients went on and on about sexual matters. Nor is it interesting to discuss our toilet habits or such aspects of life that pertain to everyday life, such as our instinctual life; eating and exercising, etc. To most people, sexuality is just part of humdrum existence, it seems.

So how are these cultic forms of sexuality to be understood? Stanley Kubrick, in “Eyes Wide Shut” (Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman), gives us an insight into this shadowy side of our culture. It revolves around high society people taking part in secret cultic practices involving sexuality. (Warner Bros. digitally altered the orgy for the American release, blocking out graphic sexuality.) The film also involves the theme of paedophilia. Although the cultic rituals were fascinating, these soon resolve into prostitution, i.e., it goes downwards into instinctuality, instead of upwards into spiritual realization. So it’s probably difficult for the average person to understand what spiritual sexuality really is. Is there really such a thing? Sexual cults occur repeatedly throughout the Christian era. Certain of these sects wanted to emulate the blessed state of Adam and Eve before the Fall, and were therefore known as Adamites. Walker says:

A number of these societies also practiced Adamism and free sex. Their exponents condemned modesty as a mark of hypocrisy and corruption, because no one in whom the sight of a nude person of the opposite sex excited feelings of lust, unease, shame, or modesty, could be called pure. This curious philosophy reached its zenith with the Perfectionists, founded at Oneida Creek, New York State, by John Humphrey Noyes (d. 1886). He introduced a system of ‘complex marriage’, under which wedded members had to surrender the ‘ownership’ of their wives and husbands, and each could cohabit with anyone they pleased. He stressed the benefits of ‘coitus reservatus’ in preventing conception, promoting male continence, conserving male energy, gratifying the woman’s needs, and at the same time providing a wonderful spiritual experience (Walker, 1983, p.185f).

Irenaeus (1st century) says about the Adamites:

They take potions to augment their lusts. Following Adam, whose nakedness before the Fall they try to emulate, they divest themselves of their clothing during their rites. After their banquets of feasting and drinking, the lights are extinguished and men and women enjoy one another indiscriminately. Carnal appetites, they aver, belong to nature, and one must therefore repay to nature what is her due. Therefore, continues Irenaeus quoting their teachings, as they render to the spirit what belongs to the spirit, so they render to the flesh what belongs to the flesh, and serve intemperately their basest desires. They hold that sexual activity, being one of the features of society that has become institutionalized, must for that reason be fiercely attacked (ibid., pp.127-28).

It’s evident from the above excerpts that they see it as a “spiritual experience”. It is also evident that it concerns the breaking of taboos, of which many are inbuilt in our very nature. According to several Gnostic theologies, the material world was created by an evil demiurge who imposed on us restrictions of personality and of life (i.e., monogamy, incest taboo, etc.). Since he wants us to remain unaware of the fact that he isn’t the true God (but merely an impostor), he imposes regulations on humanity. This has the effect that they unthinkingly go about their everyday business and remain blind to the truth. In order to escape the restrictions one could either refuse to go along with the ruling order, like the eremites (the Troglodytes; the Stylites, etc.), or one could deliberately contravene the ruling order, as the Adamites and the Phibionites. Thus, the Gnostics forked into two major bodies, those who practiced asceticism and those who practiced the breaking of taboos.

It is an interesting take on the issue of spiritual sexuality. Perhaps it represents a spiritual form of transgression, that is, a violation of the law of the demiurge. “When we rape we feel free”, say Congo soldiers (Newsweek, 6/10/2014, here). Such acts, then, would have an emancipative effect on personality. Arguably, the driving force behind paedophilia is the emancipative effect of breaking a very strong taboo. In the general case, men never experience such an inclination in their soul. It is a common argument against Freud, namely that most men cannot reminisce ever having had sexual wishes vis-à-vis their mother. Yet, in recent years, several hundred Catholic priests have been unfrocked on account of their paedophilic activities. It is also a fact that Catholic priests are bound by very strict rules and have sworn fidelity to the creator God. Arguably, the more personality is weighed down by regulations, commandments, and unthinking faith, the stronger is the incentive of breaking taboos. In the initiation rite of the Hottentots, the young initiand eats the semen of his father rolled into a leaf, and then proceeds to have sexual intercourse with his mother. The breaking of the incest taboo serves to sunder the world of childhood and impose the new laws of adulthood. Thus, the ritual is meant to have an emancipative effect on personality.

The Hottentot initiands practiced spermepotation, as in the Phibionite ritual. Correspondingly, fellatio is a central motif in pornography, that is, they’re doing it wrongly. Also, they’re doing it outside of wedlock and without being involved in a loving relationship. Apart from the motif of sexual gratification, I wonder if pornography’s great popularity is predicated on the motif of emancipation, i.e., to escape one’s psychological prison. The wish to take part in/of sexual rites, such as in Kubrick’s film, would depend on a strong urge to break out of the natural order, whether it’s internal inhibitions or external conventions. When the ego transcends its established borders, by doing something forbidden, it translates to a “spiritual experience”, in a sense. Prostitution was prolific during the Victorian era — the age of moral ordinance. But how great is the sexual gratification from visiting a prostitute, really? I question if it wasn’t more of a spiritual experience, the mildly ecstatic adventure of breaking the restrictions imposed on the ego, which were once established by “the demiurge” to forestall ‘gnosis’ (emancipation). The fascination with pornography could depend on the same ego-transcending property.

Society and Integration

Integration and wholeness, when applied to worldly relations, have destructive consequences. The attitude of the mystics, to reject worldliness and the ways of the world, works as a remedial. One should prune one’s own tree. As an introvert, one should reject the ways of extraverts; as a male one should rebuff the female collective; as a white man, one should shun the ways of black man, etc. To fulfill the demands of individuation it requires that one regards them as wrongheaded. In fact, to be slightly bigoted is only healthy. On this view, it is important to reject people, since essential differences do exist, and we must strive to avoid identification. If this doesn’t occur consciously, there will be an accumulation in the collective shadow, with forbidding consequences. Identification with the plethoric expressions of human nature is highly damaging for the differentiation of personality. In primitive cultures, the adolescent boys were typically removed from the women at initiation into manhood. They must go live in the men’s house, and learn to view women as inferior. Anastasia Sai says:

In patrilineal societies, it is the initiated men who own and guard the knowledge, usually in the men’s house where women’s access is prohibited and strictly observed by taboos […] The territories of the two sexes are clearly demarcated and strictly observed. For example, certain parts of the forest, river or ‘men’s house’ are masculine areas where only men can access and women keep away from it. Similarly, the feminine parts of the forest or gardening plots are only from women and men can’t enter that. This demarcation has strong taboos that enforce the ‘sacrosanct’. If these taboos are broken, then a curse has befallen the erred party. For men, this means that they will become weak and effeminate […] Matrilineal societies also have men’s house (Sai, 2007).

This attitude, of course, runs counter to the spirit of the times, conditioned by the liberal mindset. Today’s unswerving tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of people and cultures will have damaging consequences for the development of personality. Men will remain mama’s boys, and will find it hard to mature into creative and entrepreneuring individuals capable of thinking for themselves. In the long run, the puer aeternus phenomenon poses a threat to our civilization (cf. Winther, 2015, here). There was a time when men were men, women were women, primitives were primitives, and aristocrats were aristocrats. Although this has a dark backside, it is necessary to stop idealizing existence. We cannot turn a blind eye to the facts of life, namely that it will always remain difficult and fraught with suffering. We should heed to the traditional view; to leave matters in the hands of God and not attempt to remove all suffering and evil from the earth, because it is hubristic. This article, concerning the effect of society’s feminization on boys, sheds light on the damaging consequences of personal undifferentiation: “Notes on the Pussification of America” by Fred Reed (here).

It is necessary for the sake of individuation to focus on personal differentiation as opposed to wholeheartedly “taking part in the world”. In order to bolster one’s own specialized nature, and for the sake of avoiding the detrimental consequences of identification, one must stand apart (to a relative degree) from people of an essentially different nature. Factors of human psychology, such as sympathy and empathy, depend on individuation. These are not attitudes that one could hand-pick from a liberal or Anarcho-Marxist political dictionary and decide to adopt.

The disidentification from womankind serves as an example. In the above example from primitive culture, women and men were always strictly separated from the time of initiation into manhood. In case of the Tamots in Papua New Guinea, such rules and regulations depend on a relatively weak ego-system in the individual. The conscious function is weak, which is why personality tends to become “weak and effeminate” by socializing too much with women. Due to a frail conscious ego, they cannot avoid identification. So it is necessary for the sake of individuation that they separate themselves to a degree that is offensive to us, because it seems oppressive and lacking in sympathy. But if this separation doesn’t take place, their society would soon lose its capacity to survive. Also, men would start to latch out at women and hurt them. Accordingly, our own society would soon lose its momentum should people fail to develop their respective strengths and abilities, allowing them to differentiate themselves according to the diverse “societal castes”.

The ego-personality of Western man is more differentiated, and his consciousness has a decidedly stronger luminosity. This is our main psychological advantage, compared with the aborigines, that has enabled us to create a society in which the demarcation lines between the sexes needn’t be that strongly emphasized. The threat of invalidating identification isn’t that big. Nevertheless, the ongoing feminization of society and the increased merger of the traditional cultures of the sexes, has a detrimental effect on both boys and girls. On account of immigration, Western society is now abounding with people at a low conscious level. In their traditional culture, the sexes, as well as the castes of society, are strongly demarcated in diverse ways. Upon arrival in our culture, they have no other way of protecting their frail egos than to segregate themselves from society.

School today is very different. In earlier times, it was uncommon to latch out at the girls. I cannot remember that the invective “whore” was ever used. It was enough to alienate the other sex to a moderate degree, for they weren’t that threatening, after all. Today, the girls are subjected to harassment in schools, but they have nowhere to turn for support, because the adults are in denial of gruesome reality. One day, as I passed by the school in my neighbourhood, I could observe how an Arab boy spewed out his contempt against three Swedish girls that were passing by, and a harsh verbal altercation took place. It is chocking and scary. But what else can the Arab boy do to protect his frail ego? After all, we have no proper demarcation zones between the sexes in Swedish culture.

So this is the underlying reason for the injurious attitudes that both sexes adopt toward the other sex. It’s also what causes the strife between Blacks and Whites, etc. It depends on inner psychological factors of disidentification and has nothing to do with political “class struggles”. There is no conscious motive behind it. It is a compulsion from within, which often comes to expression as domestic violence. Average IQ follows a sloping gradient that largely coincides with skin complexion (the correlation is 0.92/1.00; cf. Templer & Arikawa, 2006). Among backward cultures, the conscious level is such that desperate attempts at protecting the frail ego remains the only option, a phenomenon that is augmented in parallel with the dissolution of sex roles (female emancipation). The Arab boy expects the girls to express submissiveness. After all, his own mother does so. Thus, he is overtaken by an inner urge to cause havoc. He is impelled to verbally assault and demonize people who are essentially different than himself. Although my analysis seemingly justifies such attitudes, one must keep in mind that there is also an unpleasant criminal dimension to this. This inner compulsion of ego-protectiveness is the underlying reason why immigrants have such clear-cut sex roles. It also explains why immigrant women tend to adopt and reinforce traditional “patriarchal” cultural mores.

The conclusion is that attempts at “integrating” people, instead of segregating them to a sufficient degree, will create turmoil and hatred. It will not give rise to mutual love and understanding. It’s the reverse. The lack of cultural demarcation zones will give rise to demonization and hatred between groups in society, since identification becomes all the more debilitating as long as the cultural level and the conscious level of the individual are both inferior. Arguably, the only way forward is to allow backward cultural groups to individuate undisturbed by other groups whose advanced consciousness is unintelligible to them, and whose culture they cannot live up to. It only causes them to lose their resolve. It makes them weak and passive and thus less successive in society.

Cultural Marxism

A Marxist interpretation of the world depends on notions of “class struggle”. The modern cultural form of Marxism has given rise to today’s “ideology of sameness”. It is highly damaging to individuation and the important functions of disidentification and differentiation, since it rejects differences as figments of mind. On this view, all kinds of differences, including sex (gender) and race, are really “social constructions” whose sole purpose is to function as motivational factors for oppression. The wish to conceptually remove all differences depends on a strong collectivistic urge, that will put a curb on the power of individuation. Noam Chomsky says that “the business elites are deeply committed to class struggle and are engaged in it all the time.” The Marxist analysis of the world, in terms of “the oppressed and its oppressors”, has branched off into the different expressions of Cultural Marxism, such as feminism and multiculturalism. But society is a huge cooperative field that cannot be understood in terms of power conflicts between workers and capitalists, men and women, indigenous peoples and immigrants, etc. Chomsky doesn’t understand how society works, because he has put on Marxist eyeglasses during his teenage years, and he still wears them. These glasses distort reality.

Men in the Western world aren’t committed to oppressing women. The average man just lives his Lilliputian life and does his little thing. He goes to job, pays his taxes, and sometimes has a beer after work. In general, his activities are very beneficial to women. As I have explicated above, the social implications of ‘disidentification’ seem to involve oppressive structures, but these really constitute unconscious compulsions that serve to protect one’s distinctive character. A slightly bigoted attitude, and a moderate alienation of the other sex, serve both parties equally well. The business élites aren’t committed to oppressing the lowly worker. These well-dressed men and women are merely doing their thing. They are building families and playing golf in their spare time. At work they have the responsibility for moneylending, selling and buying stock, etc. They are just doing their daily job and have no notion about class struggles. Nor is there an incentive to oppress the poor. They are much more focused on sneaking away from their marriage partner for a rendezvous with their lover. Each member of society just does his little thing in his/her own little reality. They aren’t aware of any great schemes. Men are not engaged in building invisible “power structures” for the purpose of oppressing the women, the black people, or the workers. Such ideas are Marxist figments of mind.

Thus, society works essentially like a termite mound (‘termitaria’). The individual termite is programmed to do his little job, which is easily defined. That’s all he knows. He isn’t aware of any greater structures. Nevertheless, the combined actions of the termites give rise to remarkable complexity. This is called “swarm intelligence”. Marxist have no notion about this phenomenon. They think that the remarkable complexity of society derives wholly from the scheming and planning of “the powers that be”. So when the work of the “business elites” seems to strengthen this structure, it means that these élites are aware of what they are doing. Allegedly, the reason why black people end up on the bottom of society is that the “societal structures” were consciously designed that way, i.e., for the explicit purpose of oppressing coloured people. It is a bizarre notion. That’s why Marxists become totalitarian when they acquire power for themselves. Now it’s their turn to impose their own grand structure on society, taken entirely from their own little minds. Of course, it doesn’t work out, but is bound to collapse.

The termites, much like us, divide labour among castes, which all have their own little responsibilities, of which some tend to overlap, such as taking care of the young. But they aren’t involved in a class struggle, nor has the structure of society been imposed on them from a central intelligence. Intelligence is distributed in the swarm. The cooperative effect is such that it gives rise to remarkable sophistication. Human engineers have studied the sophisticated air-conditioning system in termite mounds, which involves an underground spiral cone that leads cold air upwards. It is suitable for implementation in tenement buildings in warmer climates. It’s a surprising fact that human engineers are today learning from the lowly little termite. Nevertheless, the individual termite isn’t aware of such sophisticated structures.

Likewise, human society appears stratified. Some people are poorer whereas some are richer, and their labour is divided into different categories. But this is not something that some malevolent capitalist has dreamed up in his mind. It is swarm intelligence. So it is time, once and for all, to cast aside Marxoid theories in terms of postmodernism and post-structuralism. As soon as a “central intelligence”, such as the US government, attempts to impose their home-made “structure” on the world, it soon leads to destructive consequences. Whenever they attempt grand measures to improve the world, it goes haywire. The enormous war efforts have only brought about tragic consequences. They should learn from the termites. The queen in the termite mound focuses on doing her little thing. She won’t attempt to steer and regulate too much. She just sees to that the work force acquires the correct proportions in terms of the dimensions of the diverse castes. M-L von Franz says: “The Taoist philosopher Chuang-tzu always comments on the point that as long as the ruler of the country tries to do the right thing, actively making good or bad laws, the empire will get worse and worse. If, on the contrary, he retires and gets right inwardly, then the problems of the empire are solved by themselves too” (von Franz, 1996, p.179).

People do not subscribe to “grand central doctrines”, nor are they aware that they are oppressing the “lower classes” in order to suck the lifeblood out of them for their own benefit. If it seems as if women have a lower position in society, it is largely an ad hoc fact. It is not conscious design. It depends on many diverse factors — but there is no underlying motif of class struggle against women. If it appears so from an overall perspective, then it’s an illusion, by and large created by swarm intelligence and inner factors of disidentification. A Marxist would certainly interpret a termite mound as governed by a central intelligence and doctrines of class oppression — but it isn’t correct. Such an understanding of society depends on a misinterpretation, which has caused untold damage on society. It also causes numerous intellectuals to waste their lives on an illusion. A better psychological understanding of human nature is called for; a psychology of complementation, which includes notions of disidentification and separation.


© Mats Winther, Jan 2014.


Anima : The inner feminine side of a man. The anima is both a personal complex and an archetypal image of woman in the male psyche. It is an unconscious factor incarnated anew in every male child, and is responsible for the mechanism of projection. Initially identified with the personal mother, the anima is later experienced not only in other women but as a pervasive influence in a man’s life (cf. Sharp, 1991).

Individuation : A process of psychological differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality.
“In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology” (Jung, loc. cit.).
“The aim of individuation is nothing less than to divest the Self of the false wrappings of the persona on the one hand, and of the suggestive power of primordial images on the other” (Jung, loc. cit.).
Individuation is a process informed by the archetypal ideal of wholeness, which in turn depends on a vital relationship between ego and unconscious. The aim is not to overcome one’s personal psychology, to become perfect, but to become familiar with it. Thus individuation involves an increasing awareness of one’s unique psychological reality, including personal strengths and limitations, and at the same time a deeper appreciation of humanity in general (cf. Sharp, 1991).

Quaternarian : According to C.G. Jung, the number four stands for “the concretization of the spirit as it is cast in the subjective mould”. I use the concept to denote a this-worldly (but not profane) frame of mind, focused on the completeness of life and personality. The realization (concretization) of spirit in the world is central, lending it a pagan touch. The focus is on the wholeness of worldly life rather than the wholeness of spirit.

Shadow : Hidden or unconscious aspects of oneself, both good and bad, which the ego has either repressed or never recognized […] The shadow is composed for the most part of repressed desires and uncivilized impulses, morally inferior motives, childish fantasies and resentments, etc. — all those things about oneself one is not proud of. These unacknowledged personal characteristics are often experienced in others through the mechanism of projection (cf. Sharp, 1991).

Self : The archetype of wholeness and the regulating center of the psyche; a transpersonal power that transcends the ego. “It expresses the unity of the personality as a whole […] The self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of consciousness.” (Jung, loc. cit.) […] Like any archetype, the essential nature of the self is unknowable, but its manifestations are the content of myth and legend. “The self appears in dreams, myths, and fairytales in the figure of the "supraordinate personality," such as a king, hero, prophet, saviour, etc., or in the form of a totality symbol, such as the circle, square, "quadratura circuli", cross, etc.” (Jung, loc. cit.) (cf. Sharp, 1991).

Trinitarian : Trinitarian theology is also known as affective theology in that it is based on one’s personal relationship with God, rather than on finding answers to abstract intellectual questions (Wikipedia). In this article I use the concept to denote a transcendental, or otherworldly, frame of mind. Worldly realization and adaptation is not as central as “going beyond” the world to attain the truth. Thus, it could also denote the scientific mind, focused on finding the transcendental natural laws. The focus is on the wholeness of spirit rather than the wholeness of worldly life, reminiscent of the attitudes of Christian mystics and ascetics.


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See also:

Winther, M. (2013). ‘The Spiritual Method – complementation as spiritual writing’. (here)