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Thanatos

A contribution to the understanding
of the collective shadow

Thanatos
“Thanatos” by M. Winther



Abstract: The principle of the death drive (Thanatos) is understood as a genuine psychic force connected with the mother complex. Destructivity in repetitious form can temporarily emancipate the ego from unconscious dependency in phallic-narcissism. It is present in the immature or fragile personality (the weak ego). Thanatos is unconsciously therapeutic in that it aims at strengthening a frail ego consciousness. It can ward off unconscious wholeness, invariably associated with the Mother archetype, in which the borders of personality are dissolved. Although it serves to avoid regression, destructiveness can become obsessive. The sun god Horus’s perennial struggle against Seth, in Egyptian mythology, illustrates the dynamics of Thanatos. Accordingly, every night Seth defends the sun bark by defeating the negative Mother in the guise of the chaos monster Apophis. Thanks to Seth, the sun of consciousness is restored and can rise again in the morning. In history, phallocentric culture is sustained by Thanatos in its restorative capacity, but this runs counter to the ideals of patriarchal culture, whose guiding star is Horus.

Keywords: Todestrieb, matricide, maternal bond, trauma, suicide, mortido, destrudo, patriarchal, Phallic Mother, complementation.


Introduction

At the outbreak of the First World War young men happily marched to the front, apparently elated at the prospect of enormous mass killings and their own annihilation. War historians still scratch their heads and wonder what that war was all about. Today, we observe a chocking indifference concerning the prospects of society and our civilization, in the face of mass immigration and the impact of consumerism on the environment, including the ongoing mass extinction of species, which occurs at a rate 1000 times the normal, a rate which increases rapidly. It could be argued that our modern culture is unconsciously obsessed with Thanatos, a secret wish to self-destruct.

In psychoanalysis, theorists have time and again introduced a principle, ad hoc, which strives after destruction. Sigmund Freud used the term ‘Todestrieb’ (death drive), while later theorists also use the denominations Thanatos, mortido, and destrudo. It is curious, because we tend to think that warfare, neurosis and marital manhandling, are all secondary multifactorial phenomena, depending on many premises. We tend to see these as “serious mistakes” and illnesses that must be remedied. But certain psychoanalytic thinkers have argued that it is a vital force in itself, which will always abide and must also be lived through, I suppose.

The horrible carnage of WWI had as conscious motivating factor the attainment of “glory”. The nations wanted to achieve “glory”. Of course, Freud realized that this cannot be correct. It is merely a rationalization, an attempt by consciousness to explain its destructive obsessiveness. The motif behind war and mass murder cannot be to attain ‘gloria in secula seculorum’. In that case we place the motivating factor for massive destruction in the rational realm, which is not a convincing argument. Such a massive effort necessitates the impetus of the unconscious mind. Psychoanalyst Poul Bjerre (1876-1964) argued that the circular movement of death and renewal is an essential factor in human life. [1] Is there something tangible in Bjerre’s thoughts about death and renewal, or is this a form of Nietzschean philosophy?

It’s high time to investigate this curious notion, to make it straight. Is it a blind alley in psychoanalytic history or do these thinkers point at something very significant? Is human life really a circular series of death and renewals? I suppose the psychoanalytic notion of a death drive has its antecedents in the romantic philosophers. Schopenhauer, who draws on Buddhist philosophy, said that one must bring the endless cycle of death and rebirth to an end through an attitude of resignation. The rebirth cycle results from the universal Will, which is behind all creation. Nietzsche said that the struggle of warfare is to be sought after because it paves the way for the Übermensch. Freud wasn’t the first to introduce the notion in psychoanalysis. In “Civilization and Its Discontents”, ch. 6, he testifies to his own disapproval when it first appeared in psychoanalytic literature. So he affirms that the concept originated elsewhere.

Thanatos

Freud did not view it as an instinct. He called it ‘Trieb’ (drive), which is not essential to the life of an organism. ‘Archetype’ is really a better notion. Erich Neumann discusses “the strugglers”. [2] These are mythological figures who are depicted as having a powerful emancipative drive owing to a strong motherly bond. But in breaking free they inevitably fall into the clutches of the Mother of Death, and hence they return to their beginnings. Mother wins anyway, as it were. Neumann says:
In the relation between the ego and the unconscious, a “psychic gravitation” may be observed, a tendency of the ego to return to its original unconscious state. This tendency is inversely proportional to the strength of the ego and consciousness. In other words, the stronger the energetic charge of consciousness, the more free libido is available to the ego as will and interest and the smaller is the inertia expressive of psychic gravitation. And the weaker the consciousness and the ego, the stronger becomes the psychic gravitation tending to restore the unconscious state. And here the ego and consciousness may be insufficiently developed to resist the gravitation — as in early man and the child — or else they may have been impaired by sickness, fatigue, or other constellations […]
   The phenomenon of psychic gravitation, i.e., the natural inertia that causes certain contents of the unconscious to remain unconscious and certain contents of consciousness to become unconscious — taken together with the symbolic phenomenon of the predominant femininity of the unconscious in its relation to consciousness — forms the foundation of what we call the “elementary character of the Feminine.”
   In terms of psychological energy the elementary character of the Feminine and its symbolism express the original situation of the psyche, which we therefore designate as matriarchal. In it the unconscious as a whole is dominant over all individual contents and tendencies. In this phase the unity of the unconscious determines all psychic processes in so high degree that the ego, which is a particular complex of the psyche, can as yet achieve no independence; again and again, responding to psychic gravitation, it sinks back into the unconscious or circles as a satellite around the Archetypal Feminine. [3]
My argument is that the principle of the death drive is connected with the mother complex, since Thanatos derives its energy from it, which means that an archetype lends its energy from a weightier one. A suicide bomber blows himself away because there is something in him that wants to overcome the Mother, symbolic of his vegetating lifestyle and strong material attachments, connected with submersion into group identity. The civilizational catastrophes repeatedly incurred on Western civilization could be explained this way. For instance, what lies behind the EU/EMU project is really the Magna Mater. In breaking free from her demands, politicians and economists insidiously trip the system up. Accordingly, EMU has been called a “suicide pact”. The World War I and II took place against the backdrop of ‘the Reich’ and ‘Mater Germanica’. Two decades ago, Sweden came close to financial ruin. The socialist economical politics of Olof Palme, which had as goal to create ‘Folkhemmet’ (lit. “People’s Home”, otherwise known as the Nanny State), had restructured society in such a way that the economical consequences were soon to become abysmal. This was, in fact, a collective suicide attempt.

We see the same phenomenon in the so called suicide cults; Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, Marshall Herff Applewhite and the Heaven’s Gate, Joseph Di Mambro and the Order of The Solar Temple, etc. These begin as Mother cults, as kindergartens for adults, where people regress to infantile psychological dependency. Enters the archetype of Thanatos. The death drive culls energy from the powerful maternal archetype, with disastrous consequences. The lesson seems to be — beware of the Great Mother! The positive Mother, the cornucopia of fortune, will inevitably turn into its negative opposite. This happens because, being adult modern citizens, we aren’t designed to lead a stagnate life of psychological dependence. There is in adult psychology a strong impetus to individuate. We mustn’t put ourselves at the mercy of those possessed by the maternal archetype in whatever form. So we better watch out for the Marshall Herff Applewhites of politics. Thanatos surfaces in individuals who remain in motherly dependence. I hold that the narcissistic personality is under influence by the very same archetype, namely Thanatos.

Destrudo, as it is also called, is connected with the well-known mythologem of the “phallic Mother”. Those men, whom I mentioned, who are representatives of the maternal archetype and whose secret agenda is destruction, are covertly identified with the phallus of the Mother. The phallic Mother is discussed by Freud in “New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis”, and elsewhere. [4] A typical theme in fairy tales is the witch endowed with a phallic attribute in the form of long finger, toe, or nose. In mythology, the maternal deity is typically surrounded by little male chthonic divinities, such as the Cabeiri or the Dactyls. These seem to be mere outgrowths on the goddess, representing a male principle incapable of properly breaking free. In this dwarfish guise they would symbolize libido in the form of mere amusements, incapable of overcoming unconscious gravity by a steadfast commitment to a cause or an idea, which would take root as continuous ego function and conscious directionality. During the initiation to the Demeter cult at Thebes, copious wine was drunk out of cups decorated with fat and primitive dwarves donned with prominent genitalia. These cups were ritually smashed. [5]

The ‘Todestrieb’ concept can be compared with the ideas of Nietzsche, who argued that war is essential and part and parcel of the human condition. Nietzsche says with Zarathustra’s voice:
Many too many live and hang on their branches far too long. Would that a storm might come to shake all this worm-eaten rot from the tree! [6]
The storm refers to war and violence — the will to power! The tree is the Mother-tree on which men are hanging like rotting fruit. Regardless of the verity of Nietzsche’s radical philosophy of power, he conveys an essential insight about the retrogressive form of dependency and its affiliation with war. When men have regressed and become reliant on society as a motherly analogue, then Thanatos awakes and war is coming. As their individuality and autonomy subsides there surfaces another power that forcefully liberates them from their pitiful condition. Men have become complacent and they need to be shaken down from the tree to reclaim their manhood and to regain status as individuals.

The argument builds on the notion of an individuative drive that is unstoppable. As long as men hang on the maternal tree they experience a regress, but not only of mental functions; also their instincts are atrophied. The solution is to commit matricide — to destroy the society on which they depend. The Western welfare states, especially Sweden, have chosen mass immigration as means of self-destruction. This destructive urge, however, can be diverted toward other communities. The traditional solution is to start a war or whip up a pogrom. But this isn’t always viable, and so hatred grows within the community.

This explains why “motherly” ideologies always foment war and violence and why sectarian religious communities so often turn into suicide sects. Sweden, the strongest welfare state, has big problems with warlike violence in the suburbs and also contributes the most with IS terrorists among the Western states. To the men whose cognitive function has receded on account of the embryonic lifeway there remains only one way out, namely sex and violence, rape and rioting, and substance abuse. Thus the storm is created that will shake the abortives from the Mother-tree.

Interestingly, a corresponding regressive phenomenon occurs in nature. Among deep-sea anglerfish the male attaches himself to the female’s body by biting into her belly. His teeth and jaw recede, the skin fuses, the intestine regresses, and the blood systems of both animals merge. Females may occasionally have more than one male attached. So they are reduced to phallic organs, because their only function is to provide sperm. [7] Historically, this has its counterpart in matriarchal society where male identity was moulded on the Mother-phallus and remained little more than a maternal phallic outgrowth, subdued into unconscious serfdom. We can observe in mythology when the phallic deity grows out of its dwarfish form, giving rise to phallic-narcissistic (or phallocentric, patricentric) culture, which is furtively matriarchal. In comparative religion the phallic deity goes under the name of Seth, Shiva, Tezcatlipoca, Wotan, Jahve and Allah. In Egyptian mythology the battle goes on between Seth as representing the maternal phallus, and Horus the sun god, who personifies the patriarchal paradigm proper. Horus is finally victorious, signifying ideal future developments.

Seth animal from the Middle Kingdom  Seth animal (Velde, '67)
Seth is a fabulous creature with a long curved snout, erect ears and tail — all phallic attributes. He represents the dark and devilish form of male energy, as he is merely an outgrowth on the Mother. In personal psychology, we can still observe the very same phenomenon. The average Greater Middle East dweller is lacking an anima [8] proper, since his only female ideal is the mother. His psychic economy is typically of the phallic-narcissistic kind. Such a civilization, it seems, is caught between the matriarchal and patriarchal stages. Phallic-narcissistic cultures have a sectarian view of social life. Citizens belong to clans and families that are organized according to the matriarchal ideal, i.e. the clan or family is viewed as one body. It is viewed as the Mother of the individual whose protection he/she receives throughout life, but which also demands total loyalty. The family is all-encompassing, especially to the female members. It represents the Mother who always provides and protects. The father of the family personifies the maternal phallus, a fact that vouches for his pronounced narcissism. He always tries to imitate an erect penis, especially when he is out for a walk.

The clan and the family of phallocentric culture is formally the same phenomenon as a suicide cult. That’s why family members, who are suspected of disloyalty, are murdered in so called honour killings. Destruction is always close when the Mother-phallus is activated. The phallic-narcissistic male experiences the slightest emancipative tendency as an act of disloyalty and disobedience. In the religion of the Old Testament the phallic deity demands total obedience and loyalty. The religion focuses on zeal. Transgressions are punished with mass murder, as in the horrible carnage of Exodus 32:26-28. In a suicide bombing, or in a school/workplace shooting, the phallic-narcissistic male (who is secretly identified with the Mother-phallus) destroys the transgressors, but he also destroys himself. This is the utmost consequence of the death drive. The destructive drive is predicated on the weak ego. In order not to experience reversion to infantilism and inertness he sacrifices a limb to the maternal goddess of the unconscious. The psychic connectivity, a form of umbilical cord, is thus severed. The limb could be a family member, or it could be himself, or a limb of his own. A common motif is to sacrifice, for instance, a finger or a tooth in order to prove loyalty to the clan. It is also a standard initiatory rite in primitive religion; to subject to torture, laceration, or mutilation in some form. [9]

Destructivity is unconsciously therapeutic

I argue in my article on the blood sacrifice [9] that this motif aims at the amplification of ego firmness, willpower and self-control. It serves to ward off unconscious wholeness, personified as the Mother goddess. Interestingly, apotemnophilia is a strong desire for the amputation of a healthy limb. [10] There are men who amputate a healthy leg, and afterwards feel a great relief. Tezcatlipoca, the one-legged god who is the Aztec version of the Mother-phallus, likewise sacrificed his leg in the jaws of the chaos monster (the negative Mother). Symbolically, this portrays a damaged god connected with darkness and sin. By losing a limb, thus losing his wholeness, he has broken free of unmindful completeness and defeated the negative Mother goddess.

To incur physical damage, or to downgrade oneself morally, e.g., by committing crimes, or being generally nasty, thus fulfils a defensive function. By example, Michael Jackson illustrated this theme when he dressed up in black leather and sang “I’m bad, I’m bad!” By compensatory measure, he expresses that he is not a mama’s boy, anymore. The student that Jackson impersonates is killed in the story, but this is not included in the video. Young girls debase themselves sexually, cut themselves, pierce themselves with tongue-trinkets, and put ugly tattoos on their skin. The phallic sentiment compensates the mother complex by means of destructive acts that serve to damage wholeness. It is the motivating factor behind burning suburbs in Western Europe, and it obtains as an undercurrent of terrorism and warfare. From a mythological perspective, the deity that governs this destructive process is Tezcatlipoca, or Seth, as a personification of Thanatos.

A subliminal destructive factor is ever at work to undermine a relation of strong psychological dependence, whether it’s a personal relationship, ideological devotedness, the socialist state, etc. Continuous destructive mistakes, violations of rules, can serve to emancipate the individual. The uncalculated destructive impulse serves to corrode the very phenomenon to which the individual has developed nurtural dependency, and in which he is an integral part. So he is unwittingly sawing off the tree branch on which he is sitting. He is driven by an involuntary impulse to destroy the Oedipal marriage with the Mother. Also in cases where the subject believes that he pays service to the goddess, by numerous missteps her rule is whittled away.

The Oedipal complex is central also in Jungian psychology, although it has a more general significance. The “mother” in Jungian psychology signifies not merely the personal mother. Also the state can be the carrier of a mother projection. Thus, the subject can have an Oedipal relation to the state, which is regarded as motherly equivalent and viewed as an endless cornucopia of boons. The subject develops an Oedipal relation to the state and fears retaliation from the “father” in the form of the authorities, such as the police, or male figures in the population who have a fatherly and masculine persona. Such fatherly equivalents, he believes, are driven by hatred and are out to kill him. At least, they want to divest him of the symbiotic relation to the Mother, which he has striven hard to attain, and which has allowed him to regress to infantile dependence. Such Oedipal individuals have all the characteristics of little omnipotent kings.

Since the symbiotic condition is an impediment to individuation, it gives rise to a destructive force that aims to sever the bond of mother and son. Thus, the darkest fear of the Oedipal person really derives from inside as the underlying factor of projection. The dark father (i.e. the spirit of the murdered father, Laius) whispers in his ear that he ought to destroy the object of his psychological attachment and that he must now make preparations for his own death, preferably in a terrorist action. In the infantile individual the death motif takes an archaic guise. Death means that he will turn into a ‘spirit’. To become a spirit means a freeing from the bondage to the world. It means to finally sever the bond of attachment that has impeded his maturation to a true individual. This is why the death drive plays such a big role in the Oedipal individual. In the Oedipus story, Jocasta kills herself and Oedipus pokes out his eyes. [11]

A doomsday or suicide sect resembles a daycare centre for adults, conducive to infantile dependence. Such societies are matriarchal, that is, they are cults in which the followers are nothing more than outgrowths on the Mother. The members have abdicated from their life as mature and self-governing individuals. Under such conditions, Thanatos will infallibly awake from his slumber. In case of The Heavens Gate, liberation was achieved when the group transformed into spirits in order to fly up to the spaceship that was hiding behind the comet Hale-Bopp.

Trauma therapy

Freud focused on repetitive self-destructive tendencies, especially in patients with a traumatic history. My argument is that self-laceration, as it occurs among troubled girls that are cutting themselves, has a temporary therapeutic effect as it revitalizes consciousness by warding off childhood wholeness (personified by the maternal archetype), which is always proximate to the immature ego, and also the ego damaged by trauma. In the case of narcissistic individuals, psychoanalysts have always regarded them as immature. This self-destructive tendency must be repeated or it must be definitive (i.e. suicidal). Traumatized American soldiers often resort to self-destructive behaviour, or even attempt suicide, after having returned home. It has grown into a huge problem. On account of their self-image of manliness, a regress to childhood dependence is out of the question. These are generally tough men that have been brought up on the role model of the crew cut, self-assured man, who can fend for himself and refuses to be a burden to anybody else. Thus, the traumatized ego cannot sink back into lethargy and dependence, but must ward it off by repeated self-laceration in some form. Eventually, they often take the step of the “strugglers” in myth; in an attempt to escape the Mother they kill themselves, and thus fall into the embrace of the Death-Mother.

However, we know that the paragon of manliness, the mythological Heracles (Hercules) donned women’s clothes and did service to the Mother goddess for a year, during which time he was compelled to silence and is supposed to have taken up weaving. Knit work, crochet work, and weaving, are similar to a spider’s work. Although, the spider is a negative mother symbol, von Franz says that such work generally has a salutary effect, especially on women. Symbolically, it often means the spinning of fantasies, as a way of preparing for the future. [12]
A spider indicates spinning, the spinning of fantasies. The superstition is that in the morning a spider means bad luck and in the evening good luck. Obviously that really means that if in the morning one is slack and sleepy, gets up late, and sits about half dressed and just thinks of one’s neurotic problems, that would be the spider in the morning which would certainly bring bad luck. But if after working all day one lights a cigarette in the evening and sits in front of the house, as peasants do, and lets one’s fantasy run, or if one philosophizes about life, that is quite all right, it is a very good way to prepare oneself for sleep. Therefore the spider in the evening is propitious, and that probably was the original meaning of this widespread superstition. The spider is a negative mother symbol, it is the Maya, and so on. When it comes in the evening, or at the evening of life, it is all right, but it is very bad to start the day with it. [13]
Perhaps this is indicative of an ancient form of therapy for traumatized soldiers. They were persuaded to slough off manliness and go and live in the lush garden of the Mother, free of all cares, spinning fantasies for the future. Obviously, for the traumatized soldier, a therapy of reinforcing ego consciousness is already too late. In order to put an end to the repetition of the distressing experience, which constitutes a defense against regression, the patient ought to follow the example of Heracles, and allow himself to retreat into boyhood, there to fall into the arms of the Mother. This is effectively a breach of the incest barrier, which explains the averseness that it invokes in the male.

Arguably, this is how trauma should be treated in the general case, also when it comes to self-cutting girls. The patient should be convinced to abandon responsibilities and cares, and to take up “weaving” in some sense of the word. The defense involving destructivity will abate, as there is no longer an incest barrier to defend against. So it is not the question of realizing the causes of trauma, because this, in itself, is a form of self-laceration that constitutes a defense. In fact, the solution is the opposite, namely to consign all problems to oblivion. The process involves the restitution of the ego in the fountain of youth — the unconscious.

The rivalry of Horus and Seth

The epic conflict between Horus and Seth corresponds to the conflict of Quetzalcoatl (Kukulcan) and Tezcatlipoca, the one-legged phallic god in Mesoamerican mythology. Whereas Horus is a solar deity in the shape of a falcon, Quetzalcoatl is the “winged serpent”, which is the dragon, a creature both earthly and spiritual. It relates to the fact that Quetzalcoatl was a god-man, like Jesus Christ. Quetzalcoatl was prophesied to return and put and end to the cruel reign of Tezcatlipoca. Interestingly, the Christian religion also arrived in Mexico at the anticipated date, when Hernán Cortés went ashore. Also Horus was a man-god, in earthly existence represented by the pharaoh. The difference between Horus and Seth corresponds to the paradigmatic difference between Jesus Christ and Jahve. Jahve stands for phallocentrism. He is essentially the same deity as Set, Tezcatlipoca, and Allah.

The conflict represented by these mythologies continues to this day. Phallocentrism stands against a modern patriarchal conception. Today, orthodox Judaism and Islam are often denoted as patriarchal. In my view, this is incorrect terminology. A better term would be patricentric, paternalistic, or phallocentric. The autocracy of the phallocentric male depends on compensation. He suffers from a mother fixation which he always tries to compensate. Instead of dealing with the “dirt” of the unconscious (the dark Mother), he focuses on rules for cleanliness. It betrays that culture is patricentric as it overcompensates a furtive bond to the mother, in its wide meaning. So it is not properly patriarchal since a strong attachment to the nurtural principle still obtains.

Western Christian culture, on the other hand, is inherently patriarchal since it builds on spiritual values and focuses on the abstract and conceptual. It is important to remember that these are archetypes at work in the collective psyche of humanity. They do not represent a conflict between civilizations. However, should we remain unaware of the inner conflict, the risk is great that archetypal strife, through identification, is misunderstood in an overly concrete way. Rivaling psychic economies in individual psychology are projected as civilizations in conflict. The guiding star for Western civilization is the patriarchal spirit. However, both phallocentrism and the matriarchal worldview are today making an inroad in Western culture. So this is not the least a conflict internal to civilization and internal to personality. [14]

These deities do not denote human personality types. They are forces of insensate nature that will always continue to exist. Seth, representing the dark forces, castrated Osiris whose phallus could never be recovered. Whereas Horus is the living pharaoh, Osiris is the dead pharaoh who abides in the spiritual realm. This double nature corresponds to Jesus Christ who is true God and true man. The divine phallus represents the male active principle of the ambivalent force of nature, which is the Mother of Life and Death. Western culture elevates the Christian archetype that is Christ or Horus whereas Aztec, orthodox Islamic, and orthodox Judaic culture, worship the phallic god (Jahve, Allah, et cetera).

The archetype that dominates a civilization is formative of its culture and therefore of personality. Lacking an anima [8] the phallic-narcissistic male has no notion of true womanliness. Mother remains the ideal. If a woman cannot live up to motherliness, she must be a harlot, which is why women tend to suffer much abuse. This notion permeates the phallocentric cultures, which also include certain Middle East Christian cultures. Today, in Europe, immigrants of certain derivation are notorious for harassing European women, as they cannot see them as anything but whores. In phallocentric culture, womanhood is equated with motherhood and nothing else. A female film student in Brussels recently made a film project about this phenomenon.
I am Sofie, a 25-year old girl living in Brussels. I moved here two years ago. I love Brussels’ theater, I love the chocolate and waffles, I love guys treating me like a slut all the time…Wait. What?! That’s right. Guys talk to me on the street like I have a big sign on my head that says ‘Whore’. Even if I wear long trousers and a t-shirt, they find it appropriate to call me ‘baby’, ‘slut’, ‘doll’ and other degrading names. They follow me around clicking their tongue and asking me where I live, if I’m married and how much it costs to have sex with them… [15]
When I went to school we never demoted the girls as “whores”. Today, it is very common. It is the legacy of immigrant cultures, primarily from the Middle East and North Africa. Many have argued that Muslims, especially, are unintegrable in Western society. However, there are signs that Western society is today changing its guiding star from Horus to Seth, from democracy to phallocentrism and matriarchy, partly due to the influence of immigration. In fact, the European Union could be understood as equally the Mother of all European citizens and the Great Phallus, i.e. a world power. The archetype that rules such institutions is Seth, which is why everything revolves around money and legislation. At the same time there is a chocking unawareness of the moral incentives of both society and personality.

Cipactli - Aztec earth monster     Cipactli, from which earth was formed
There are mythological parallels also in case of Seth and the Aztec war god Tezcatlipoca, vanquisher of the earth monster Cipactli. This was how he lost his leg. This feat was necessary for the world to come into existence. Ursa Major is Tezcatlipoca’s foot print in the starry sky. It always revolves around the polar star as he, being the evil god, is not allowed to enter through the gate of the polar star into the highest heaven. Analogously, Seth, equipped with a spear, defeats the serpent Apophis, which threatens the sun bark every night during its journey through the Underworld. In these myths the dark god is still an ambivalent force, bringing both good and evil consequences, which is what William James refers to in his well-known saying: “The world is all the richer for having a devil in it, so long as we keep our foot upon his neck”.

Seth was worshipped as a great god in Egypt, corresponding to the worship of Tezcatlipoca/Huitzilopochtli in Mexico. However, after the demise of the New Kingdom in Egypt, he was ousted from the Egyptian pantheon. Earlier rituals had enacted the slaying of primeval nature in the form of the serpent Apophis. However, now the serpent-slayer himself carried the role of the evil force, whose defeat by the hands of Horus was celebrated in ritual. [16] This is an interesting change. It reflects upon the implacable standpoint of the Christians, whose view of the devil was utterly dark. Nonetheless, this is compensated in European fairy tales, where the actions of the devil sometimes has good consequences.

The adolescent age is connected with the term phallic-narcissism, hence the cockiness of the male. However, among certain ethnic groups this attitude still prevails in adulthood. Pre-adolescent age is characterized by maternal attachment in its wide meaning as dependency, material fixations, concrete thinking, and an unreflecting lifestyle to boot. Many an African population still remains at this psychological level, under rule of the collective mother complex, equal to the matriarchal goddess. But when the phallus begins to “grow out” of the Mother, it signifies a relative disengagement from unreflecting dependency. In the Egyptian pantheon, Seth personifies the Mother-phallus, and is therefore the god of phallic-narcissistic (phallocentric, paternalistic) culture. Horus, his archfiend, being the fatherly sun god, is the deity of patriarchal culture, the patron of adulthood proper (as is the Christ). It seems that these stages; the matriarchal, the phallocentric, and the patriarchal, are associated with different levels of IQ. Western Christian culture is inherently patriarchal since it builds on spiritual values and centers upon the abstract and conceptual. IQ is predicated on level of proficiency in the abstract realm, which is the backyard of Western culture.

The biological perspective

The difficulty that Freud wrestled with was how to biologically motivate an innate tendency that goes against life. Eros sustains life whereas Thanatos is antagonistic to Eros. Yet, Thanatos is not antagonistic to life from an overarching perspective. The point is that both Eros and Thanatos work to sustain the organism. It functions like a thermostat. When it gets too hot, electricity is shut off temporarily. Seth is a menace. He is the god of the dead region, the desert. Yet, he defends the sun bark in the dead of night. In modern biology, such dialectics has been verified. All living beings undergo programmed cell death (apoptosis) without which they could not develop to maturity. Brain cells must die in order for intelligence to develop, otherwise there would be cacophony. The cell suicide mechanism is crucial to complex organisms. [17] Destructive agents in the form of free radicals (oxidants) cause damage to living cells. So people eat antioxidants to remove these destructive compounds. However, over-consumption of antioxidants, especially with elderly people, is destructive to the body, causing inflammation and accelerated aging.

The reason is that free radicals are needed in the immune system. White blood cells are responsible for the defense against virus, bacteria, toxins, and cancer. They utilize free radicals as “missiles”, shooting them at the infectants, in order to destroy them. This means that a shortage of free radicals in the body weakens the defense. The white blood cells must have recourse to plenty of free radicals in order to fulfill their function properly. [18] Thus, while free radicals do harm to living cells, they are also necessary to promote the life of the organism. Too much free radicals and too little are equally harmful. The absence of Thanatos can have harmful consequences for life.

Regression to infantilism in sectarian groups is an expression of Eros. Grown-up men thus give up their willpower. They are a chocking sight. Eventually, the leader tells them to kill themselves, a command that they readily fulfil, deprived as they are of individual willpower. The cult leader cuts the Mother’s phallus off vicariously, because he is contemptuous of the mother-dependent male, which is really the painful truth about himself. Death has made the scene in the paradisal kindergarten. According to the bible, death came into existence when mankind was banished from the Garden, which signifies the lost symbiotic condition. This theme is repeated in world mythology, as in the Australian aborigine story named “The Southern Cross”. Here death enters creation when men become aware of sin. These myths seem to say that Thanatos is concomitant with ego consciousness, as shadow accompanies light.

Spiritual sages of all time have been misogynistic, in a sense, and warned against cohabitation with women, since the proselyte will tend to fall prey to the symbiotic wholeness of Eros. Many Gnostic sects, whose spiritual path revolved around enlightenment (‘gnosis’ — spiritual awareness), were adamant about this. The majority adopted continence and a reclusive or monastic lifestyle. However, there were Gnostics who went in the opposite direction of sexual overindulgence, including sexual rituals performed in open before the congregation. [19] Eros is torn apart, through unnatural application of sexuality. The Gnostics were aware of this. By emptying the erotic drive, so they thought, they emancipated themselves from its dominion. Thence they may give God undivided attention.

At Egypt’s Tahrir square, a Western female journalist was again (June, 2012) sexually assaulted by a large group of men. She was “violently attacked by a ‘group of animals’ who stripped her naked, scratched and clenched her breasts and ‘forced their fingers inside her’”. [20] Eros must be restrained, alternatively women be raped, or recruited to group sex, etc. It is an expression of Thanatos and a serious impediment to Eros. In this way the frail ego defends against abatement in the symbiotic condition, a power set in motion by mass movements such as the Arab Spring. It is very characteristic of certain ethnic groups in convergence with the modern world, resulting from a low conscious level. The Holocaust and the many ethnic cleansings give us ample evidence of how unitive Eros is compensated by divisive Thanatos.

The negative animus

The Jungian theory of the ‘shadow’ is incomplete. [21] It builds on the notion that destructivity in the social context depends on shadow projection. In order to remedy the problem the subject must integrate the shadow. However, the theory does not take into account the functional aspect of destructivity, which serves to uphold a frail ego structure. Shadow projection and the constant victimization of our peers is functional. Without recourse to its shadow economy the ego is threatened with collapse. This function, equal to Freud’s Thanatos, surfaces when subsistence is no longer possible in the maternal environment, taken in its wide sense. Unsophisticated intellects cannot cope with the complexity of the world without partially shutting reality out, defaming the surrounding world and blaming it for personal failures. That’s why we see happy and naive primitives turn into machete murderers, and harmonious children, still living in a condition of wholeness, turn into bullies. This is the shadow phase of psychic development that the majority of earth’s inhabitants aren’t capable of surpassing.

There is in Jungian psychology the expectation that the shadow can always be integrated, and that this accomplishment represents the first step in individuation, defined as the path toward true maturity and wholeness. The truth in the matter is that only a portion of earth’s population can accomplish this, and only because they are endowed with a strong ego. Kathrin Asper has reached similar conclusions. [22] She says that the integration of the shadow is far from always the first phase in analysis with patients. The shadow can only be integrated when the ego is ripe for it, a phase that many will never attain. According to her, the ‘negative animus’ is the culprit. Arguably, the negative animus could be seen as the Jungian equivalent to Thanatos. The term certainly has a more scientific ring to it. However, Asper’s understanding of the underlying causes of the constellation of the negative animus differs markedly from how Thanatos would form, as I see it. The negative animus is also discussed by M-L von Franz. She sees it as the fountainhead of masculoid thinking, and connects it with pre-Christian Wotan and thus with Hitlerism. [23]

The subterranean god

The phallus is a god that stands on one leg and has one eye looking upwards. Wotan, who hung on the world ash, could set himself free from the motherly tree by the sacrifice of one of his eyes. Carl Jung, at a tender age, dreamt of the phallus seated on a king’s throne in an underground hall, although at this young age he couldn’t identify it as such:
It was a huge thing reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was made of a curious composition: it was made of skin and naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward.” His mother said “That is the man-eater”. [24]
It was a subterranean god, not to be named. This was the deity responsible for the two greatest carnages in world history, an epoch which Jung was destined to live through. We like to think of our civilization as ruled by an enlightened spirit, but the presence of the subterranean god can always be felt. Hatred, calumny, and contemptuous remarks, are part and parcel of our culture. It should be apparent to everyone that the plebeians aren’t as good as they pretend. It is a falsehood characteristic of our civilization. Destructivity and malevolence does not depend on misunderstandings, as is always supposed. The average person, it seems, cannot withstand an opportunity to hurt others provided that they risk no harm to themselves. Malevolence is used as a means of self-therapy. For this reason, it is exceedingly difficult to maintain civility in an Internet discussion forum.

Why do the hoi polloi subscribe to ideologies such as multiculturalism and cultural relativism? It has nothing to do with ethical motives. In fact, through ideological affiliation the adherents are able to castigate others as devils. A multiculturalist notoriously hurls around vitriol and accusations of antidemocratic views, racism, right-wing extremism, egoism, etc. This is the great allurement of collective ideologies; to be able to bully fellow men. The only consequence is that one’s social status is augmented. It’s like they cannot get along in life without recourse to calumniation. Arguably, in another epoch, the same individuals would have appropriated the politically correct norms of that particular period in time. It enables them to partake in collective hatred, which is really the underlying motif, deriving from the god of Thanatos. Thus, the average multiculturalist of today would have been a full-fledged Nazi in the thirties. The hypocritical person subscribes to the prevailing views on account of their political correctness, henceforth enabling him to demonize fellow men. It has nothing to do with the moral and intellectual content of the ideology, as such.

Political correctness means to program oneself according to the most popular ideologies, whereas a proper understanding is lacking. Such a person lacks heartfelt convictions and merely parrots the standard tenets. Intellectual understanding is not possible anyway, since the ideology is only a chimera serving as concealment for the subterranean god. Their covert motivation to partake in the movement is to be able to make humans suffer. Again, destructivity is functional. It does not derive from misunderstandings. In fact, the Thanatos-driven personality thrives on “misunderstandings” and has no wish to avoid them. I am merely saying that those who project demonic evil are the very people who are possessed by it. Well worth to remember is that the force of Thanatos exists in us all. The vital point is whether we succeed in keeping our foot upon his neck. It is only doable as long as we are able to analyze and understand the collective shadow.

Beyond Thanatos

There are only two alternatives; either to have faith or to have ideology. In the Old Testament we can observe how the once all-encompassing religious mythology, characteristic of ancient Egypt, splits into the opposites of Faith and Law. In the ensuing battle faith came out victorious in the form of Christianity. According to Pauline Christianity, the Law is revoked and faith has taken precedence. The same struggle is today ongoing in Islam, where ‘sharia’ (law) seems to prevail. Modern ideology in all its plenitude represents a throwback to the pharisaic mindset. A modern ideological framework equals an intellectual algorithm corresponding to the religious law of olden days. Wheras Horus and Christ are connected with the life-principle of faith, Seth and Old Testamental Jahve fixate on zeal and demand blood sacrifice. In Norse and Teutonic mythology, Wotan (Odin) is the lawgiver.

The personality that has transcended the stage of “ego wholeness”, pertaining to the phallocentric economy, has no longer any need to control the environment in defense of the frail ego. Central to this notion is that Christ resides within us (cmp. Galatians 2). The symbol means, among other things, that the vital force resides within us. It is no longer accorded us from without in the form of outer circumstances, whether good or bad. In either case, God is always with us. Also Horus is a god-man, which means that the divine spirit has its abode in the human heart. This state of affairs generates an entirely different psychological dynamic, and the transfer of sin to the environment is closed out. The motif of destructivity, the death drive, thus loses much of its impetus in the individual.

However, the archaic psychic economy of maintaining ego wholeness still persists in the modern world. It obtains in morally inferior individuals, immature individuals, and in ethnic groups that lack a Christian phase in their history, corresponding to the European Middle Ages. [25] Mass immigration of ethnic groups belonging to the phallocentric cultural sphere, together with the ongoing secularization process, contribute to the resurgence of pre-Christian scapegoatism. A phallic-narcissistic economy implies that the ego territory must ever be expanded, its borders always defended, and personal shortcomings must be blamed on others, by way of transfer of sin.

The ideology of sameness

When Horus and Seth finally appeared before the council of gods, Thoth managed to decide which of the two gods was dominant by calling out to their seed. Seth’s seed answered from the bottom of the Nile whereas Horus’s seed answered from Seth’s abdomen (Seth had eaten a lettuce insidiously impregnated with Horus’s seed). Thoth summoned the seed to Seth’s forehead where it appeared, to Seth’s great rage, as a golden sun. This proved the dominance of Horus over his uncle, and Seth was then adopted as a son of Horus. The seed of Seth represents the worldly unconscious spirit, which is why it answers from the bottom of the Nile (alternatively, the remote marshlands). Horus’s seed is the heavenly spirit of consciousness, appearing in the form of the golden sun. As it takes possession of Seth, he is subordinated to the principle of sentience and personal autonomy. The sun appears in Seth’s forehead — Thanatos is made subordinate to the Self of light. He is now an aspect of Self, ruled over by the spirit of consciousness, personified by the sun god Horus. It does not mean that the dark god is become wholly assimilated, but he can no longer remain hidden in the waters of the Nile, unanticipatedly rise to power and take possession of personality.

There are two antagonistic spirits ever at work. One is the archaic earthly spirit, associated with the Earth Mother. It searches to establish dominion according to the matriarchal creed. The other is the spirit of worldly transcendence, which works towards conscious realization, differentiation of cognition. It is associated with the ‘principium individuationis’, which attempts to differ between things, thus generating understanding, willpower and directionality. The dark spirit, working toward unconscious wholeness, relates to the combined canon of postmodern relativism in all its forms, internationalism, multiculturalism, gender theory, etc. The current “ideology of sameness” answers to a purpose of retaining pre-adolescent wholeness, an unmindful childish worldview where opposites have only begun to form. Pre-adolescent kids enjoy a form of primary wholeness, which is shattered when they enter the adult world of opposites.

According to the ideal of unconsciousness, all inhabitants on earth constitute one great big family. There are no essential differences between races, sexes, criminals and honest people, etc. The ideology of sameness says that male and female gender and sexuality are constructed. Allegedly, the sexes aren’t essentially different. It is a regressive notion that serves to thwart individuation. Individuation requires that personality is outlined against the backdrop of the world, and that the illusion of sameness is overcome. Retainment of pre-adolescent wholeness is practiced in Eastern monastic tradition, to which young boys are recruited for a life of prayer and meditation in a childish wholeness-condition. In this tradition it works very well, since the monks are recruited to a life in reclusion before they have been exposed to the world. Tibetan monks are among the naivest folks in the world. It is a religious path suitable for the introverted life of the individual. However, should the unindividuated personality involve himself with the world, the result is disastrous. The world is a kindergarten to such folks, ruled over by Mother. The problem with the ideology of sameness, heavily practiced in many European countries, is that politics becomes infantile and unrelated to the hard facts of reality.

A typical example of the incursion of matriarchal intellection in Western politics is the recent unemployment debate in Sweden. The Somali group, for instance, is now believed to have reached the astounding unemployment rate of 85%. In a recent interview, the prime minister happened to point out that the unemployment rate among ethnic Swedes is very low. This created an uproar of indignation among politicians and journalists. To use the denomination “ethnic Swedes” means that you make partitions and differentiate the population into us and them, essentially a racist invention. There is no such thing as ethnic Swedes, debaters in Sweden use to say. All inhabitants are Swedes. The paradigm of sameness means that it’s not possible to debate the many urgent societal problems in the open. The intellectual function mustn’t distinguish the population, hence politicians and debaters are unable to present solutions relevant to the actual situation. The problems are effectively swept under the carpet.

Essential to consciousness is the ability to differ between ‘this’ and ‘that’. Without differentiation conscious awareness cannot take root. The spirit of unconsciousness aims at thwarting differentiation, according to the dictum that all things are really the same. All the individual entities really belong to one and the same oblivious and thoughtless wholeness. This is the Mother goddess speaking. The matriarchal creed is represented by the ideology of sameness, which works to undifferentiate the world and to remove individuality. Ideally, only the leader must think for himself. The immersion into group mentality is bound to revive the murderous spirit. Aum Shinrikyo was the name of the sect responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack. Immersion in group identity was central to this violent sect of assassins, who probably have around 80 victims on their conscience, many of them killed by strangulation. Despite the cult’s Japanese roots, the one-eyed(!) leader, Shoko Asahara, had adopted the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva, as patron of the cult. The strong connection between immersion and Thanatos is evinced in Robert Jay Lifton’s study: “Most basic is ‘milieu control’, in which all communication, including even an individual’s inner communication, is monopolized and orchestrated, so that reality becomes the group’s exclusive possession”. [26]

The paradigm of vegetative unmindfulness and nurture gives rise to a culture of human sacrifice, the Aztec being perhaps the most horrifying example. Such cultures are always ruled over by the Shiva type of deity. Aum Shinrikyo represents a throwback to a dark phase in human culture. The ideology of sameness points the way back to the matriarchal stage of civilization, and collective manslaughter. The lesson to be learnt from the Horus myth is that Thanatos should be adopted as a son to consciousness, as subordinate to it. It means that Horus cannot rule without him. The modern mind mustn’t always shine like the sun and give expression to all-encompassing goodness. If so, inclusive and absorptive unconscious wholeness begins to envelop us again, and Thanatos is set loose. This is precisely the predicament of Christian civilization. As the light of Christ is the sole ideal, and the shadow is never really adopted as its son, the dark powers remain out of control. Thanatos can, at intervals, take possession of the collective, which will fall back on the ancient tradition of human sacrifice, as exemplified in the Holocaust.

Seth, as the sun god’s adversary, secretly fulfils a supportive function while he is protecting the deity on its nightly journey. Our daytime judgment evaluates the dark god as pure evil, although furtively being dependent on its services. When we face the risk of becoming immersed in the sea, like the sun on its nightly journey, Seth will vanquish the sea monster. Its effects would not need to be so vast in scope if the destructive function were allowed to awaken at an early stage, before the symbiotic spirit has taken possession of personality and the collective. Yet it seems that our civilization will again and again take the sameness train to perdition. We ought not identify with the everlasting sun god and shine our eminent light on all the brown-skinned inhabitants in the world. Let us instead speak with the voice of Seth and urge them to fend for themselves, before our civilization faces ruin, and we must suffer the horror of Sethian rule again.

Othering

How can internal sameness be maintained in the collective? It depends on a process of othering whereby unalike men are incriminated as the archfiend. This happens if individuation is impeded and the immature phase of collective mass psychology is prolonged. Either the individual individuates and separates himself from the collective, or the collective will individuate by separating itself from humanity, rejecting the others as “slave natures”. This is evident in case of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Islamism, and nationalism during WWI. The individuating force is immense. It strives to attain the superior Aryan man, the exemplary socialist citizen, the heroic soldier of the Holy War who single-handedly blows the archfiend to pieces. This is the perverted form of individuation which will seize control of the population if individuation is impeded through the ideology of sameness. Evidently, there are two forms of othering, the small scale and benign one, which serves the purpose of rational differentiation, and the murderous form associated with collective identification. The former is symbolized by Horus in unison with his adoptive son, the latter by the rule of the dark deity.

Carl Jung aptly characterized the Nazi system as Wotanism. If it weren’t for the extreme destructiveness of the Thanatos principle, Europe would still be under totalitarian dominion. The force of individuation would be stemmed and individuality stifled. Thanatos always usurpes the throne in the perfectly ordered collectivistic society, causing its demise, whether it’s a totalitarian society or a sect practicing collective immersion. Wotan threw Europe into a carnage. The self-destruction of the Third Reich forcibly involved the Soviet Union, thus crippling it permanently, too. If it weren’t for the extreme destructiveness of the Aum Shinrikyo and other sects, they would have had great success impeding individuation in an enormous number of members. Was it really worth more than 60 million dead, and the horrors of Holocaust, to destroy the threat to ego individuality and democracy? This question can’t be answered, because it has nothing to do with human values. It belongs to the divine council. It seems that nothing must be allowed to impede the sun god, not at any cost.

Time and again, the same mistake is committed in that we underestimate the enormous impact of individuation and conscious differentiation. It is extremely dangerous not to heed to its advancement. The Thanatos force ought to be conceptually realized and put to good use, thereby forestalling its dominion. It can protect us against the spirit of collectivism, ever at work. Let us apply the dark force to a limited degree, like Jesus does when he curses the fig tree, causing it to wither, or when he drives the money changers out of the temple brandishing a whip, or when he cruelly rejects his mother and his brothers, or when he calls Peter “Satan” for worrying about his security. The moral is that nothing must be allowed to block His way. The hapless tree that cannot give him sustenance because it is out of season, must wither and die. As long as the individual fares with an ancient god of unconsciousness the individuating spirit cannot be sustained, and the tree cannot bear fruit in the name of Christ.

Primitive culture

According to Azar Gat, primitive man’s mortality rates in war, skirmishes, or intra-group violence, before the coming of state authority, is extremely high. In the Amazon, a study of the Waorani showed more than 60% of adult deaths over five generations were caused by feuding and warfare. In a prehistoric Indian site in Madisonville, Ohio, 22% male skulls had wounds and 8% were fractured. In a similar site in Illinois, 16% had met a violent death. In New Guinea, about 15% died as a result of inter- and intra-group violence: 24% males and 7% females. At the Australian island of Tiwi, the aborigines lost 10% of the male population in a decade. An Aboriginal tribe of Murngin of Arnhem Land lost 200 men out of a population of 3,000, during a period of 20 years. 30% of the warriors died. Another study suggests aborigines in a generation lost about 5 to 6.5%. Studies of Eskimos show a murder rate of one in a thousand, about ten times the US peak rate in 1990. [27]

Yet violence is not predicated on the motif of keeping the population down. Agriculture has allowed an enormous increase in population numbers, whereas our murderous activity hasn’t increased, but rather abated. An important factor is the way in which the infirm ego of natural man is sustained by tradition. Accordingly, the introduction of alien thoughtways and traditions (a form of multiculturalism) has a passivating effect, with the result that consciousness loses its impetus. The introduction of Christianity in primitive society has resulted in collective lethargy. Carl Jung sees this as a very tragic complication of cultural colonialism. It works almost like a poison that kills the aborigines’ distinctive cultural character and their will to proclaim themselves as worthy humans. There are many examples of vigorous and ecologically sophisticated cultures, such as the African Bantu, in which men lived worthy lives in harmony with nature. However, in the Third World, today, there is a strong tendency toward an unbecoming vegetating lifestyle. The conscious level is generally lower than in animistic society, which had great spiritual awareness. Whether or not these developments could have been avoided, is another question.

In traditional culture, Thanatos was institutionalized as human sacrifice, warfare, and initiation rites involving marring. Thanatos revolves around the archetype of death as provider of the conditions for new life. For instance, when the vegetation is burned, very fruitful agricultural land is created. The abatement of the conscious level is connected with the removal of Thanatos from culture. As a result the ego is today in closer proximity to the maternal unconscious. It would explain why primitive society is so very conservative and tends to keep sternly to the traditions of the forefather spirits, and why aborigines are so prone to make war against other tribes. To defend culture and territory is also to defend the conquests of ego sentience. The injuries sustained by the warriors of primitive society make them incomplete. A missing limb, for instance, is a sign that the warrior has departed from childlike wholeness and become a free agent. He has obtained precious consciousness and a relative independence of will. Thus, he is endowed with immense power. Wotan (Odin) sacrificed an eye, and thus he came to possess wisdom and the knowledge of the runes. Tezcatlipoca sacrificed a leg in the jaws of the Earth Monster, which is the grounds for his rise to power.

Magna Mater

The phallic deity Seth personifies the penetrative power of archaic thought, whose mainspring is the maternal archetype. He is her deputy in the form of archaic thinking. Seth personifies the thoughtways of the Magna Mater. It is for this reason that the dark deity can be accommodated as subordinate to rationality. It is not doable for the feminine goddess, as such, since she is multifarious and symbolically polyvalent, incompatible with rectilinear consciousness. She is an encompassing wholeness herself and therefore is not part of anything. Rather, everything is part of her. When a divinity is pinned down in sheer daylight in the form of thoughts, dogma, and ritual, it will come to be regarded as masculine. Accordingly, Diana, the shy goddess of the forest, won’t allow herself to be pinned down by the eye of consciousness. She can cling to her feminine nature only by remaining in the moonlight shadows, where nothing is precisely defined.

The mythology of the Great Mother revolves around the ambivalency of life and death. She is associated equally much with the womb as with the grave. According to the matriarchal paradigm, death is a necessary precondition for life. The seed must fall into the earth and die before new life can grow. As such, the wisdom of the unconscious has enormous value, but if its allowed to dominate a culture, society will be overtaken with archaic thoughtways. An out-and-out moral ambivalence will burgeon, completely foreign to modern morality. Sacrifice of life was necessary in matriarchal society, ruled over by a sinister god. Accordingly, the Aum Shinrikyo thought that their murderous activity served the purpose of regeneration. Sinful life, having bad karma, is removed from the world, and rectified life can grow in its place. In Hindu tradition, Shiva saves the world by dancing it out of existence, wildly laughing, scattering ashes around, in order for the world to be born again. Accordingly, in Aum Shinrikyo, to kill fellow men became a mission of spiritual salvation. To throw humanity into a global conflagration served the purpose of saving mankind.

Nothing is more conducive to growth than the scorched earth. This is a central tenet of the Magna Mater. The theme of human sacrifice was also very central to Adolf Hitler. A new world could not come about without the sacrifice of millions of soldiers and Konzentrationslager prisoners. The earth must be saturated with blood for the earth goddess to be willing to provide new growth. This is why so many sacrificial victims have been thrown into the jaws of the earth monster, such as the Aztec Coatlicue. The Earth Mother is ambivalent. She takes life and gives life in equal measure. This explains why such a destructive god as Seth can be her representative. His destructivity serves the purpose of regeneration.

Obviously, such archaic notions stand in stark contrast to today’s rectilinear sun-consciousness, according to which economy can always expand and humanity continue to grow endlessly, as if the earth’s resources were endless. This is because we put our trust wholly in the fatherly solar divinity, ultimately responsible for the emergence of science and technology, including our pronounced willful capacity. We depend on clever sun-consciousness to work out new bright ideas, and new technical solutions, with which to continue our rectilinear path into the future. This one-eyed belief in the expansive patriarchal conception, to the detriment of inner and outer nature, has reached way’s end. By contrast, the archaic matriarchal notion of time is circular. The adoption of Seth by the younger god Horus, implies that — although the archaic thoughtways are forever pacified — they will come into favour again, now moulded by sound judgment and advanced rationality. Today, we have no other choice than to heed to the wisdom of the unconscious, because our civilization is today neurotic, divided against itself. It is moving closer towards self-destruction, unwittingly lending power to Thanatos.

The acceptance of the dark deity symbolically means that our shadow receives a worthier evaluation. It begets a new attitude toward evil and the destructive forces. The archetypal wisdom of the collective unconscious is not of the devil anymore. It serves to reconnect us with instinctual nature, thereby preventing us from removing ourselves too far from reality. The consequence of flying too close to the sun is disastrous. Thus, Icarus came plunging down, straight into the jaws of the Death Mother. It is necessary to relate symbolically to the dark side of existence, to allow conscious room for it. A symbolic awareness may assimilate content that aren’t digestible for the analytical mind whose morale is merely logical. Let us concede that suffering and death belong in life. Death is an integral part of existence without which life could not exist. The workings of Thanatos are not always to be contravened. The cruelty of nature is unfathomable, and all we can do is to alleviate it. Attempting to abolish suffering, as in global welfarism aiming for an earthly motherly paradise, is self-defeating ideology. To adopt an attitude of all-encompassing goodness, and to think that we can control future developments, is hubristic — it’s like flying too close to the sun.

The head of Isis

Images of the Virgin and the Christchild call to mind Egyptian representations of Isis nursing her son Horus. But Horus is different than Seth. Horus, in a fit of rage, decapitates Isis, his mother. It represents emancipation. It is from Horus the sky god that the universe stems, and not from the Earth goddess, as people earlier thought. Jesus rejected Mary, saying that she was not his mother (Mark 3:31-35). The Christ lived with the Father, even before time: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). In essence, the self-ideal of the emancipated personality stands against phallocentric masculinity and a vulgar form of instinctive femininity. In the patriarchal paradigm the feminine spirit can take an advanced ‘anima’ form. She needn’t retain her motherly role for the dependent male. The male has broken free, so womankind can throw off the motherly ideal. As the boy grows up and becomes a psychologically independent male, the woman can relinquish her motherly role. However, in phallocentric culture the feminine spirit is equated with the mother.

The medieval cult of the Virgin Mary aided in transforming unconscious dependency into spiritual awareness. Thus, the feminine spirit undergoes transformation and becomes ‘anima’. Enclosed in the vessel of the symbol it is slowly simmering in the mild heat of consciousness. Among the many depictions of the Virgin, there exists not a single one where she is depicted as a classical mother, i.e. a big-breasted mama. She always looks like a beautiful young woman. The anima ideal only appears in patriarchal civilization. She can only exist when the mother’s head has been chopped off. The maternal archetype is so strong that no other awareness of womankind can grow in her shadow. Every other form of femininity is viewed as whoredom.

What aggravates the problem is that inexhaustible source of masculoid thinking — the negative animus. [23] Women, in full numbers, supported the Nazi takeover in Germany. It has baffled historians, especially since women had at that time attained a good degree of emancipation. Hitler saw women as mothers. They should devote themselves to simple duties and childbearing. Western women, as a rule, secretly adore the phallic-narcissistic male, and are in support of massive immigration, despite the loss of freedom that it entails. Behind the mask, the female collective has a propensity toward a fundamentalist, phallocentric worldview. It is evident that the patriarchal paradigm, including the subdual of the maternal archetype, benefits a mature form of femininity. It doesn’t mean that women should abstain from motherhood. It means that the Mother mustn’t be seen as an ideal in society. In that case, it follows that the state becomes the carrier of a mother projection. Matriarchy represents a threat to the spirit of the feminine, but also to those women who wish to make expression of their personality, who are not content with the motherly ideal. However, since Western women are prone to saw off the branch on which they are sitting, Western emancipative advancement and democracy risks a serious setback. The motherly unconscious is the fount of life. It is when the matriarchal paradigm becomes dominant and men lose their individual autonomy that Thanatos awakes. She is then become the phallic Mother. Feminists are really the modern devotees of the Mother-phallus.

Horus takes charge and decapitates his mother Isis. He carried the severed head of Isis to the Western Mountains. [28] It would signify that the sun god appropriates the wisdom of the goddess. He assumes control over her means of cerebration and carries it away. The head of Isis is phallic in significance. The phallus is being subordinated to the Self as archetype of conscious individuality. This is also the underlying meaning of Seth’s subdual. Rational consciousness is only capable of harbouring content of relatively abstract nature, which is why the symbol acquires a masculine gender. The head as the container of spirit is well-known in religious history. It is thematic in Celtic mythology. The dismemberment of the deity means that its spirit moves into the daylight realm. Only its abstract nature, i.e., its “thoughts”, its theology, its conceptual meaning, can be contained in conscious light. That’s why the deity is being partitioned; broken apart. It is a notorious theme in mythology and in dreams. Of course, the goddess cannot die; with Thot’s help she acquires a cow’s head, instead. The “body” of the once dominant archetype, i.e. the unintegrable part, assumes the nature of a benign and domesticated animal. She has been downscaled and assumed her proper position in the pantheon.

The matricide

Seth committed patricide. He murdered Osiris and took over his kingdom. This follows the Oedipal mode of procedure. Osiris was dismembered by Seth who scattered the body parts all over Egypt. This is a classical symbol. The dismemberment of the deity means that he dies and enters the temporal realm. It relates to a level of culture where the population have received the cunning of the agricultural deity, Osiris. They have learnt to till the land, have acquired technological know-how, and dutifully abide by the law. The integration of the fatherly deity, besides denoting a phase of personal development, relates to a legislative society where citizens obediently follow the Law, reminiscent of the Old Testamental frame of mind. In Islamism, sharia is regarded as divinely instituted law. In ancient Egypt the divine order of things, instituted by the gods, was called Maat. It cannot be surpassed, but society must always have recourse to the divine law. This cosmography is characteristic of the phallocentric, paternalistic society, which is furtively matriarchal, because material well-being and prosperity remain dominant. The goddess merely keeps herself in hiding, as did Isis with her child Harpokrates (the child Horus), hidden in the reeds. Accordingly, women in phallocentric society generally remain in the background, typically hidden under a cloak.

Isis recovered the bodily remains of Osiris, and managed to enlivened him in order to become impregnated with his seed. This seems to be a typical pattern subsequent to the death of a god. The god is partially vitalized by another deity. In psychological terms, it lends energy from another archetype in order to resume its unconscious life, although it will now recede in the background. Thus she begot Harpokrates who was a feeble child. He abided for a long time hidden in the thicket of the Nile delta (the unconscious), before he was ready to make his appearance as a contender for the throne. Yet, the quantitative notion of psychic energy cannot fully account for the archetypal transference process. Narcissus is captured by “beauty”. So is Actaeon at beholding the beauty of Diana. This fateful meeting in the forest is what caused Actaeon to be torn to pieces. It seems like the sublime qualitative characteristics of an archetype is capable of generating psychic energy. However, it needn’t have this fateful consequence. The alchemical lapis (stone), or the red tincture, is said to have a transformative capability. It probably signifies the Self, having undergone a process of refinement denoted ‘circular distillation’. Everything that is touched by the wonderworking “stone” is enlivened and ennobled.

Whereas Seth is a patricide, Horus is a matricide. When the goddess is decapitated it implies that the phallocentric deity Seth is dethroned and the patriarchal era begins (granting that mythology didn’t refer to specific events in time). Motherly wisdom becomes an integral part of culture and mind. From then on the law abides in the heart. The guiding rule is to pave the way for individuality, to allow the feeble child deity to grow to maturity, protected from danger. This is a protective motherly trait; to discern the faint voice in the dusk, allowing it to mature in a sheltered state. It is characteristic of individuation, which is stymied in phallocentric society where dwellers blindly follow rules and refrain from choosing a personal path in life. In keeping with the archetypal revivification procedure, Isis is revived by Thoth and fitted with a cow’s head. Thus, she will continue to have influence from the divine realm, but won’t dominate society, anymore. The Oedipal kind of personality is replete in today’s society, to the dismay of the many mature citizens. To a degree, it seems a reversion has occurred in that many are also under influence of matriarchal archetypes Osiris and Isis. Yet Western culture can only be maintained by the “matricidal personality” who rejects the goods of life. It is necessary to abandon the illusion of society as a good mother. The welfare society, the orderly machinelike state, and the Islamic caliphate, have today attained proportions of a Mother goddess. Horus severed the head of the goddess and went into reclusion. The individuant ought to follow the example of Christian recluses in history, in some way or another.

Psychoanalysis centers upon the motif of patricide and the Oedipal complications. The problems associated with the motif of matricide have been overlooked, despite the fact that the heroic motif is ubiquitous in historical and modern myth. The lone cowboy who rides into the desert sunset is essentially an heroic recluse. He eats a can of beans and sleeps on the ground. This kind of hero, who is a rejectee, poor and lonely, and goes through great sufferings but is victorious in the end, is part and parcel of the Christian conception. It is enormously popular, because he is a Christ figure and a matricide. I use the term matricide as a symbol. Jesus is a matricide in the sense that he declares his independence of earthly existence: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John, 16:33). When being tempted by the devil in the desert, he spurns both riches and worldly kingship. He also rejected his mother Mary and said: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35). Jesus renounced the world and saw poverty as ideal. He would not depend on anything worldly, and voluntarily confronts torture and death. Since he had “overcome the world” no worldly allure could ensnare him. Jesus is being very radical, since his disciples must have only a minimum of worldly possessions. “Consider the birds in the air”, he says, “[they] do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26). Amber Jacobs says:
[Matricide], unlike patricide, has been untheorized in psychoanalysis. If patricide in the Oedipal myth has been interpreted as the Name-of-the-Father, allowing for filiation, symbolic loss and genealogy, matricide in the Oresteian myth has not been translated into such clear conceptual terms. This means that the mother is not theorized within the terms of the underlying cultural laws that determine our socio-symbolic organization. [29]
However, she takes the view that the matricidal symbol allows us to transcend the Western patriarchal paradigm. This cannot be correct, as the archetype is foundational to our culture. Perseus severed the head of Medusa, and Horus did the same with Isis. Dragon killers are ubiquitous in our culture. Nevertheless, Jacobs may be correct in saying that psychoanalysis is insufficient in this respect. It is well designed for the portion of the population that has an Oedipal problem, but is lacking in the theoretical understanding of the “normal” Western individual who fulfils the heroic ideal of individuation. For this reason, there is a tendency in psychoanalysis to look upon the narcissistic psychic economy as more or less normal. Some even argue, along with Heinz Kohut, that the foremost motivational factor is narcissism. Although this is relevant to the average member of phallic-narcissistic culture, it won’t suffice as a model of the average Westerner. Psychoanalysis cannot achieve universality because the model is insufficient. See also: Jacobs, ‘Why matricide?’. [30]

Horus is an archetype. An archetype lacks an earthly mother. So what does it mean when an archetype liquidates another one, in this case its mother? A typical feature is the severing and the partitioning of the archetype. Osiris was cut into pieces, too. It seems like the deicidal archetype has reached a level of excitation sufficient to push the antagonistic archetype over the edge into the temporal realm. Energy is transferred from one archetype to another, causing the latter to pass the threshold of consciousness, where its inner opposites fly apart. It is immediately appropriated by the ego and undergoes intellectual abstraction. From the unconscious viewpoint, this is equal to dismemberment. In Scandinavian fairy tales, the trolls explode when being exposed to sunlight, becoming a heap of rocks. Sooner or later it becomes the fate of all trolls. (There is only one troll who can tolerate sunlight to a degree. This is Humpe, because he was born with sunlight in his eyes.) In Egyptian myth, Seth attempted to rape Horus. The transfer of semen would signify a transference of psychic energy from one archetype to another, with potentially fateful consequences for the latter. However, the act of killing is usually carried out with less obvious phallic symbols, such as a sword or a spear.

In this context, matricide denotes the death of an archetype. It does not imply the killing of a human being, nor does it signify repression. Narcissus dies because he becomes cognizant. He is frozen by his own mirror-image. This means that he is caught up in the realm of self-awareness. The seer Tiresias prophesied: “Narcissus will live to a ripe old age, provided that he never knows himself.” Of course, an archetype cannot really die and disappear, which is why it is soon revived in myth. The archetype, as such, is not integrable with temporality. It will continue its unconscious existence, although in less resplendent form, as Isis with a cow’s head (signifying unconsciousness), or as Osiris as regent of the underworld. Nevertheless, the dismemberment of the archetype is an important motif. It is also illustrated with restrainment and continuous torture, which is the fate that befell Prometheus. It signifies his death insofar as his autonomy is eliminated. The sacrifices made by the gods always bring boons to humanity, whose cultural world is enlarged.

Complementation

As a symbol, paradise is connected with the number four, which is a number that denotes completeness. There are four rivers in the biblical paradise. The number denotes a naive and unmindful form of wholeness, as experienced by Adam and Eve while living in the Garden. When they “opened their eyes”, they became aware of evil in the form of the serpent, living in the midst of the Garden. The illusion was lost and they had to leave paradise. The number four has always been connected with ambivalence; it is both good and bad. The alchemist Dorneus (c. 1530-1584) said that quartarius (four) is the binarius (i.e. the devil) in disguise. Yet, there was in Paradise no awareness of good and evil.

In Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the ruler of the quaternarian age, which was paradisal and evergreen. It denotes a mythic motherly world where the conscious light is mild. It is important to remember that such a condition of earthly life has never existed. Rather, the notorious myth of the Golden Age symbolizes a spiritual realm, where mankind still had a godly stature, before being downgraded to earthly beings. In reality, mankind were animals before we became sentient beings. In the instinctual existence of animal life, it is indeed possible for opposites to exist in mild light, without flying apart. But conscious increase implies an amputation of quaternarian wholeness — one leg is cut off, and the number four turns to three. A female number thus turns into a male number. A young woman dreamt that her dog had been amputated and was missing a leg. But then she noted how agile he was on three legs. It means that three is as good as four. Although we are used to chairs that have four legs, a three-legged chair is just as good, if not better. Research has shown that a three-legged chair is more stabile than a four-legged.

When we see through the paradisal illusion we also leave naive wholeness behind, associated with the number four. It means that life is “amputated”. It has, however, the benefit of being self-willed and self-aware life, affiliated with the number three. The trinitarian path is connected with an augmentation of knowledge and consideration, which implies a relative emancipation from a collective, childlike, and unthinking existence. Osiris was ousted by Seth. However, Osiris could continue his reign in the underworld, the realm of the dead, since the conscious light is faint in this place. The quaternarian form of wholeness continues its existence in the moonlit nighttime world. Seth, as the new ruler, represents the dark aspect of trinitarian cognizance. As representative of the divisive principle he is chthonic and worldly-minded ternarius (trinity), whereas Horus is heavenly ternarius. The same is true for Tezcatlipoca, who had his four limbs reduced to three. As divine personification of the masculine number three, he was able to get a foothold in the sublunar world.

The light and dark trinities seem irreconcilable. When dark ternarius is bestowed the sonship of light ternarius (Seth being adopted by Horus), it could mean something more profound than what we normally mean by the integration of an unconscious complex. It means that Seth is made rightful heir to the throne, and it’s likely that they will change regency in the future. The task of integrating chthonic ternarius with the traditional Christian mind-set is like coupling fire with water. To a personality overly identified with goodness, it is viable to add a more divisive and disciplinary standpoint. However, the principles are further apart than that, as they are radically heterogenous. Carl Jung was well aware of the problem involving irreconcilable opposites that resist integration. His standpoint was that the precocious personality in harmony with the Self should be capable of holding the opposites together, thus impersonating a living paradox, as it were. His notion of Self is not easy to live up to, as it is a complexio oppositorum. It’s a demanding ideal that allows the individuant no rest. It does not allow for reclusion, but demands wholehearted participation in life generally.

I have pointed at certain problems connected with the Jungian concept of the shadow. Arguably, the collective shadow is not even integrable as a whole. If integration is not a workable solution, complementation could solve the dilemma. By complementation is meant a process of completing, or more precisely, the process of forming a complementary aspect of Self. On this view, the Self is essentially heterogenous, consisting of two or more full-fledged aspects of Self that are however irreconcilable opposites, symbolized by Horus and Seth, the light and dark ternarius, or the winged and wingless dragon in alchemy. Whereas integration pertains to the transformations of the ego, complementation refers to the transformations of the Self. In the former process, energy flows from the unconscious into the ego system, whereas in the latter the flow is reversed. Of course, transformations in the Self can induce transformations in the ego. Instead of a continued repression of the collective shadow, the process of complementation can make the dark Self proximate to personality as a self-sufficient aspect of Self, moulded by conscientious caution and forethought, unshackled from an instinctual and archaic unconscious. As the two Self aspects aren’t integrable, the former must recede in the background while the latter becomes dominant. In such a model two kings are ruling interchangeably, as it were.

This is reminiscent of a regulation that occurs in military organizations. Military companies may have a company commander for peacetime and another for wartime. Since war and peace put quite different demands on the commander, it is not enough to change uniform, that is, to change persona. Diarchy, when two individuals are the heads of state, is one of the oldest forms of government, occuring in Sparta, Rome, Carthage, as well as in Germanic tribes. The Inca empire had two rulers of different prestige, one hanan (upper) and one hurin (lower). [31] By analogy, it could at times be necessary to let the Self undergo a dramatic shift, in face of altered circumstances in the inner or outer world. When personality undergoes complementation, attention is turned to the transcendental Self, and the individuant adopts the stance of the recluse. I have discussed ternarius and quartarius (alchemical number symbols) as complementary aspects of the Self. It is a more comprehensive perspective. [32]

When Horus carried off with Isis’s head, he took refuge in an oasis, where he fell asleep. It took place in the Western Mountains, the realm of the dead. Seth discovered him and tore out his eyes. He buried them and they soon took root as two lotuses. This event would signify a shift of Self following a process of complementation. The dark ternarius, in the form of Isis’s head, was stolen away from the goddess and adopted as a complementary aspect of Self. This does not mean that the dark Self passes into a content of consciousness. Rather, it is removed from unconscious autonomy. Thus, Isis could no longer interfere in an haphazard way, which is what had caused Horus’s rage. Horus made his way to the shadow land where his eyes were torn out. It denotes the death of a god, analogous with the death of Narcissus, which gave rise to a beautiful flower. By acquiring the head of Isis, Horus gathered enough energy to pass the border of temporality. A god dies when it begins to shine strongly due to a high excitation level. It can no longer be ignored by the ego, which is bound to identify with it. The two lotuses have struck root in the sublunar world, signifying the realization of Horus’s archetypal idea, conceivably the twofold Self — the rule of the two kings. So this was how the lotus flower came into the world. By the transfer of energy from older archetypes, Horus was restored to life. Thoth restored Horus’s left eye and told him that this was the Light of the Moon. Hathor poured some of her milk into Horus’s right eye and said that this is the Light of the Sun. The heavens are now enlightened by two complementary luminaries, interchangeably.

The myth seems to revolve around transformations of the Self, apart from conscious transformation. Complementation would be a slow process during which the largely unconscious Self undergoes metamorphosis, by the aid of an attentive consciousness. Although the conscious subject experiences change, it is not generally the same process as assimilation. Consciousness is enlightened by the arrival of the first two lotuses. But Horus is brought back to life again when the ego makes restitution and dims its light, while focusing its attention. Conscious energy goes back into the unconscious, as a restitution, which is what underlies the idea of sacrifice in religion. Among modern Westerners, a recurrent theme is to abandon worldly life and set out on a spiritual journey, typically involving reclusion and contemplation. The proselyte is often away for years, after which he/she often decides to return. A central theme in Buddhism is the ideal of the spiritual seeker who, after having achieved enlightenment, returns to the world. The Jungian process of individuation cannot really account for such a radical shift of ideals, since the Jungian Self is one. Spiritual and worldly life are supposed to be integral and not separated in time. Arguably, there is too much focus on integration and too little focus on complementation. In historical light, integration corresponds to the sacrifice of the deity whereas complementation corresponds to the restorative sacrifice of the religious devotee.

Conclusion

Certain psychoanalytic schools have been loathsome of the notion of the death drive, and for most analysts it has been riven with problems. I put forth an interpretation that makes sense of it. The contraposition of Eros and Thanatos, following Freud, is relevant in so far as Eros denotes the symbiotic power that works to achieve an unthinking wholeness, whether its in the regressive form or vis-a-vis other beings. Thanatos can be understood as the force that defends the borders, particularly the incest barrier, taken in its wide meaning. Merger is resisted, sometimes even on pain of death. The ego, especially the weak ego, must defend its borders as the symbiotic experience threatens its existence with unconscious dissolution. At least it faces regression to an earlier naive phase, something which invokes incestual fear. The ego is very reluctant to acquire any form of weakness. Bodily weakness is a lesser problem.

The weak ego, especially in the narcissistic personality, has a pronounced aversion to vulnerability in the other party, as it can cause chinks in the armour. Thanatos is called up in an effort to neutralize symbiotic Eros. Following the pattern of projective identification, a little twig on the Mother-tree is cut off, in the manner of a vicarious sacrifice. The projection occurs since the perpetrator himself is unknowingly an outgrowth on the Mother, especially in cases where his personality is merely a product of his own cultural and ethnic group. It represents the sacrifice of a limb, which is a recurrent motif in mythology and in history of culture and religion. Yet the inferior personality experiences an equally strong symbiotic drive when the other party conforms to collective ideals.

In the encounter with a personality of greater scope the delimitations of the ego are threatened. Advanced culture of great range activates Thanatos in the inferior personality. Since it is unmanageable to adapt, a personality of lesser scope is threatened with dissolution. Only if Eros is curbed can ego delimitations be upheld. The “Other” represents a threat to the inner narcissistic harmony formed upon vanity and self-conceit, which is ego wholeness. Such an encounter with the imponderable evokes true fear. That’s why an encroaching symbiotic wholeness is closed out. Adjustment and assimilation are out of the question.

Destructivity, whether it’s directed outward against the other party or it takes the form of self-laceration, spoliates the threatening symbiotic wholeness, characteristic of the Eros function. According to legend, when Saint Lucy’s betrothed said that he admired her beautiful eyes, she responded by tearing them out. Giving them to him, she said: “Now let me live to God”. [33] Thus, by means of self-mutilation, she managed to destroy an aspiring Eros wholeness. Self-mutilation is a notorious theme in the initiation rituals of aborigines, and it has its modern counterparts, too. The young girl destroys her childish wholeness by getting an ugly tattoo, wearing vulgar clothes, inserting trinkets by piercing the nasal bone, etc. Evidently, she is not daddy’s girl anymore. Original wholeness is thus destroyed. This is a natural phase of emancipation with serious pathological overtones.

In the modern Western individual, provided that his ego is strong and unneurotic, the Thanatos force has receded. But in the average citizen of phallocentric society the recession of Thanatos never occurs. To him the phallic force of Thanatos is indispensable for maintaining ego wholeness. The inferior form of masculinity is symbolically equated with the phallus of the Mother. It is like the little twig on the trunk of the motherly tree. Thanatos is a psychological function that accompanies the ego complex, as shadow accompanies light. In Egyptian mythology, Horus establishes dominion over Seth by adopting Seth as his son. Horus is the paragon of the modern ego — Seth is the shadow. This is a sound map of the psyche. The corresponding relation in Christianity is that the shadow is thoroughly rejected and relegated to the underworldly realm, as the devilish binarius.

Nietzsche, lending the voice of Thanatos, said that warfare paves the way for the Übermensch, which is really Horus, the sun-hero. Nietzsche isn’t out to destroy the human species, but to augment its survival-value. However, when Thanatos is repressed, as in the Christian paradigm, the consequence is an accumulation of explosive, destructive madness. Thanatos is a defensive function of psychic economy. The destructive impulse is essential to the long-term survival of both the individual and the species. To the extent that the ego is rooted in our biology so is Thanatos, although it is operative in the psychic realm. There is no wish to self-destruct as a biological organism. Thanatos is really defensive of the ego and serves to strengthen the borders of personality, partly defined by cultural identity.

The destructive impulse is triggered when personality risks being depleted in symbiotic merger. It tends to happen to the psychotherapist who becomes slightly neurotic in his involvement with the patient. The policy of the Yugoslav compound nation was to live together in unthinking unison, which is why Yugoslavia turned into a collective suicide sect. What is the consequence when the European welfare states accept immigrants from regions where a passive lifestyle is natural, even desirable? In an effort to repress our collective shadow, which is Nietzschean destrudo, European politicians are devoted to the nurture and protection of all inhabitant’s on earth. Accordingly, Europe allows mass immigration of ethnicities who elevate the maternal ideal and to whom womanhood is equal to motherhood. I don’t mean to disparage these ethnic groups. Rather, it’s the question of incompatible paradigms. We are providing them with comfortable living circumstances, which they judge according to the matriarchal criterion as preferable to hard toil. The patriarchal criterion is reversed. The consequence is that Thanatos is mounting in the unconscious. There is great risk that Europe will flame up again, this time in civil war.

OWL



© Mats Winther, 2012.



Addendum


Aurora, Batman, and Joker

Thanatos is the underlying cause of the mass murder in Aurora, Denver. [34] I hold that all those who believe in the motherly ideology of undifferentiation indirectly share responsibility for the death of the cinemagoers. Destrudo is mounting these days, gathering momentum in the collective unconscious. This happens because the divisive force is not allowed expression in societal life, in a way which is intellectually and morally advanced. Denver is a place of integration, multiplicity, unthinking tolerance, and uniformity in terms of gender and ethnicity. In the ruling ideology, there exist no essential differences, no divisive lines. In fact, in the kindergarten for adults there exist no real opposites at all. There is no essential difference between a criminal and an honest person. According to this view, society is like a rotting dunghill where a thousand flowers bloom. In such a society the divisive force will instead come to expression in bullying, criminality, and shootings at public places.

The murderer saw himself as Joker, the archfiend of Batman. If Joker corresponds to the phallic deity (Seth or Tezcatlipoca) then Batman would correspond to the bird or dragon deity (Horus the falcon god, or Quatzalcoatl the winged serpent). The bat is actually a little dragon, of sorts. Horus was incarnated as a human being, as was Quetzalcoatl (who is depicted as a white man). Apparently, the story of Batman and Joker revolves around the same archetype as their divine counterparts. Joker lets off a gaz that causes people to laugh themselves to death. He represents Thanatos. Batman probably compensates our overly polished and cloudless view of the Saviour in the form of the Christ. Batman’s personality is very sombre, but he is a dragon-hero, nonetheless. Another famous dragon man is Merlin, who had serpent eyes. He is the “dragon lord”. Thus, there is a secret identity between him and the dragon. According to tradition, Merlin was begotten by the devil to counter-check the redemptive work of the Christ. But the son of the devil turned against his father and became a redeemer of men. This mythologem is probably what underlies Batman. He is a dragon man, a son of the devil who works to do good.

James Holmes, the Denver murderer, makes the impression of a mama’s boy. All terrorists are mama’s boys. They remain unknowingly identified with Seth, the maternal phallus. The murderer in Aurora, similar to the Tezcatlipoca priest, performs an atonement sacrifice that shall serve to restore divine benevolence; to heal the split between god and man for the time being. The phallic deity redeems by way of death and warfare. In Nietzschean terms, war and human sacrifice can remedy the problem of human infantilism and motherly dependence. Joker is a redeemer, too. He redeems humanity by way of mass murder and warfare. He lets off a deadly gaz in Gotham City. Anders Behring Breivik, much in the same way, sees himself as a redeemer. He did what he thought was necessary. He said he didn’t like what he did, but it was necessary to redeem mankind from imminent destruction. The leader of the murder sect Aum Shinrikyo was thinking along these lines, too (vid. Lifton, 1999). The denizens of evil are destroying humanity in order to save it. In fact, it is a very typical redeemer, representing the archetype of the pagan sacrificial priest. The Jews at the beginning of our era expected the coming Messiah to bring about destruction and warfare. But the Messiah that appeared was of a wholly different kind.

Infantilization

The exaltation of all things relating to non-Western culture, not the least as a byproduct of massive immigration, leads to infantilization and societal degradation. If this development continues, we are bound to see more bloodshed along with an accumulation of hatred in society. The ideology of sameness, building on relativism, permeates our culture. Our present-day ideology says one thing but our unconscious says another. As a consequence, vicarious suffering surfaces as a solution to the neurotic split in society. An article by Paul Gottfried sheds light on the problem of ongoing infantilization. White youth are essentially adopting the same attitude as Blacks from the ghetto. University students don’t like to do “book stuff”. [35]

The central point of my article is that destrudo, the divisive force, must be knowingly sanctioned to ward off the invasive ideology of sameness, predicated on the mother complex. If we keep repressing the collective shadow, it is bound to overpower us, as it has done so many times before in history. To avoid future cinema and school shootings, a new epoch of racial hatred, ethnic cleansings, and yet another Holocaust, there is no other option than to face the painful truth and try to deal with it. The Thanatos force is brewing in this very moment. Faced with the symbiotic condition, when individuation is finally impeded, Thanatos in the collective will rebound with great force. It is very dangerous to continue on this path, to maintain the intellectual level of kindergarten children. It is high time to abandon the ideology of sameness.

Death is the divisive force, par excellence. The individual is separated from life itself and everything he loves. Death divides loving couples, Romeo from Juliet, and a child from its mother. In death, it divides the body into its constituent parts. Also a machine dies this way, by being divided into separate parts. In our age, destrudo is viewed as unnatural, something that must be repressed at all costs. This unthinking belief is what causes the eruptions of mass murder, which is the retaliation of Thanatos. Thanatos emerges to prevent the ego from sinking down into collective infantilism. What effect is the Aurora shooting supposed to have? According to an archaic rationale, people are made to realize that life on this earth is not to be viewed as a benign paradisal existence. Rather, destruction is always proximate. It serves to compensate the ongoing undermining of nature’s greatest accomplishment, namely the self-conscious ego of adult man. Men must become men and not remain in a childhood state.

The ego’s ratiocination is dependent on the dividing principle. It cannot prevail without separating “this” from “that”. For advanced ego consciousness to exist, divisive thinking must always be present. If it is not allowed to come to expression in a controlled and refined manner, underpinned by science and psychology, it will take primitive and cruel expression, not unlike ancient cultures of human sacrifice. Individuation is very much about abandoning the false wrappings of the persona, separating oneself from the mass mind, and divesting oneself of falseness, generally. Should a person remain part of the group mind, and the latter changes, then he will follow along, also when it turns to evil ways. Those who follow along the course of the “collective mind” will sooner or later fall in with the crowd subverted by destrudo. A politically correct person today, reciting the notions of racial equivalence, would have adopted political correctness also in the Third Reich. He would, full of implicit faith, recite the tenets of Goebbels. The conclusion is that those who subscribe to “tolerance fundamentalism”; who believe in non-differentiation and make themselves blind to differences — they all share responsibility for the death of the Aurora theatre visitors.

Thanatos is associated with the gods of division and destruction, as Shiva in India, or Seth in ancient Egypt. Seth was the god of the region of death, the desert burial ground. Shiva the Destroyer is the god of death, according to Hindu theology. Our patriarchal rectilinear solar consciousness (Horus) should follow the recipe of myth and adopt the older god Seth as its son. This amounts to an integration of the feminine archetype, which serves to prevent immature matriarchy from insidiously taking possession of our civilization. Among other things, it would mean to accept death as a precondition of life; to adopt circular time as a complement to linear time, and to tolerate suffering as a natural condition of earthly life. Thus, we may evade the matriarchal pitfall: the reduction of the feminine principle to motherliness and negative matriarchy. The feminine archetype, in the form of a “moon consciousness”, is capable of balancing out today’s rationalistic “sun consciousness”. [36] Unconscious dependency-need comes to expression as an encroaching, collectivistic, matriarchal mentality. This is the vulgar and instinctual form of femininity, which sooner or later metamorphoses into a destructive force — Thanatos. A refined form of the feminine principle stands in relation to consciousness. In symbolical terms, Seth is granted sonship to Horus.

The dark aspect of life

Life counterbalances itself, as when predators kill herbivores. This is a precondition for life on earth; otherwise all vegetation on earth would soon be consumed. This is the wisdom of the Mother, according to which death is necessary to sustain life. Keira Knightley (“A Dangerous Method”, 2011) plays the part of Sabina Spielrein, a pupil of Carl Jung’s. She wrote an essay ‘Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being’. [37] It is an age-old tenet belonging to matriarchal culture. For new life to burgeon, and for the world to continue, it is necessary to make sacrifice. It amounts to a circular view of existence. The sun must die in order to be born again. The seed must fall into the earth and die in order for new life to grow. The Thanatos archetype has been central to our worldview during the major part of human history. Today, we won’t allow room for this age-old insight. As we continue to repress destrudo, it takes a pathological expression as falseness and hypocrisy. Although many pretend to be good citizens, behind the mask they are really quite nasty. Politically correct multiculturalists and cultural relativists hide behind a smiling face. The divided and hypocritical character is a consequence of the lack of integration of the collective shadow. In the present time, the collective entertains an unrealized destructive desire. It’s like the safety vault is exuding hot steam all the time, in the form of nastiness, scorn, derision, and contemptuous remarks.

Thanatos as a divisive and defensive force must remain part of intellectual life. In order to evade the horrors of modern-day pogroms, destrudo must be assimilated. This serves the purpose of stemming its invasive power, which causes a regress to blood sacrifice and barbarian practices. So we ought to cease the present fixation on an exuberant goodness that encompasses all humanity. If it were allowable to question whether black Africans really belong in our civilization, we may avoid a future resurgence of vulgar and exaggerated racialism. The divisive power is thus harnessed, similar to myth, when Seth is adopted by Horus. In order to retain a decent scope of knowledge and perception, we must allow for a controlled level of divisive power. Abatement of the conscious level is the same as ‘abaissement du niveau mental’. It is French psychologist Pierre Janet’s term, referring to a weakening of the ego due to drainage of its psychological energy. I have discussed this problem in the context of civilization. [14]

Our modern awareness is quite scientific and advanced. Yet it is becoming more and more evident that we are unable to cope with the challenges of life. People are becoming more and more neurotic, while the earth’s resources are continually depleted. The moonlight attentiveness is a necessary complement to sunlight awareness. The dark aspects of Nature must also be tolerated. The Magna Mater in the history of religion is ambivalent, representing both death and life, suffering and enjoyment. Seth is her representative. Throughout history the ityphallic gods, such as Hermes-Mercurius, abide in the shadow of solar religion, overseen by solar deities such as Zeus, Apollo, etc. The ityphallic god mustn’t abide in the shadow, anymore. In the uncontainable unconscious state he remains a deadly “inner enemy”. The dark deity can be redeemed. When the archetype is contained in a dimmed light of consciousness, it slowly transforms into a positive force in human life. The feminine spirit cannot be grasped by one-sided abstract thought. It must be contained in dim light, which is awareness informed by symbol and ritual.

Although both Yin and Yang are necessary to accomplish wholeness, it’s not possible to institutionalize the feminine element and put it on a pedestal as ideals, mores, principles, theology, ritual, thought, symbol, etc. If this were the case, the deity is no longer female but is become male. The feminine element has then been reshaped into a divine phallus — a masculine principle of power and directionality, governing people’s minds. The feminine is thus become masculine. If Diana were to leave the wood where she is roaming in the moonlit night, to unite with the masculine deity, she would turn masculine, too. She will be more like a principle than an erratic force of the unconscious. The conclusion is that, in order to retain its femininity, the deity must remain independent of the theological mind. It is, however, possible to create a mystery cult around her, where she is kept alive for a while, thanks to the esoterism of the cult. But sooner or later the mystery will be depleted, as happened to the Eleusinian and the Isis mysteries. That’s probably why only religions that center upon masculine deities can survive in religious history. Historically, as the ego grew stronger, the light became too intense for the feminine divinity. She soon became masculinized. This is the reason why the goddess is represented by the phallic deity Seth, Tezcatlipoca, et al. They are masculine representatives of the Magna Mater, i.e. her ambassadors in the pantheon, as the Mother’s phallus. But they are never accepted into the highest heaven.

The phallic-narcissistic personality sees himself as a “ruler”; as a king. That’s why the phallic notion so aptly expresses his personality, which is akin to a little erect phallus seated upon a throne. Such a person finds it hard to live in a free and unpredictable society. Rather, society must be strongly regulated, according to divinely instituted law. The phallic-narcissistic personality must remain in control also of his own sexual feelings. That’s why women must be cloaked. The events of life mustn’t be allowed to present themselves spontaneously. Should he feel that he is losing control, it leads to severe anxiety. The average person belonging to phallic-narcissistic culture can experience mortal dread for no good reason. To pass a stranger in the street can be a terrifying experience. That’s why many of the ethnic groups that arrive in unregulated and free-spirited Western Europe are possessed by a fear that has no counterpart in any other living creature on earth. Most Western men have no notion of the terror that possesses their souls when they feel out of control. Natives only register that they behave strangely. Nursing staff at hospitals report that the fear of death, among immigrants, exceeds anything they have previously experienced.

That’s why phallic-narcissistic man tends to be so cruel and aggressive against fellow men. He has an urge to transfer his own fear to the surrounding, since victimization of others has a therapeutic effect. As he risks being overwhelmed by fear, he can remedy this by himself becoming the terror of the neighbourhood, by invoking fear in neighbouring people. In this way his own fear is alleviated, and he will experience that he remains in control of the surroundings. Immigrants from phallic-narcissistic cultures often try to take control over housing areas in which they live. Women, or people belonging to the domestic ethnicity, mustn’t be visible in the open. Phallic-narcissistic cultures in history have been extremely warlike and extremely cruel. To be a terror to the surroundings is a central psychological stratagem. The Old Testament bears witness to the urge of being a terror to other nations, to invoke dread.

© Mats Winther, 2012.




Notes and references

(1) Bjerre, P. (1929). Death and Renewal. Williams & Norgate Ltd.

(2) Neumann, E. (1995). The Origins and History of Consciousness. Princeton University Press (Mythos).

(3) Neumann, E. (1991). The Great Mother. Princeton University Press (Mythos), (pp.26-28).

(4) ‘Phallic Mother’. Encyclopedia.com (here)

(5) ‘Cabeiri’. Wikipedia article. (here)

(6) Nietzsche, F. (2008). Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and Nobody. Oxford University Press. (p.63)

(7) Zubi, T. ‘The Deep Sea Anglerfish’. (here)

(8) ‘Anima’. The unconscious feminine aspect in male psychology. See Jung Lexicon by D. Sharp. (here)

(9) Winther, M. (2008). ‘The Blood Sacrifice’. (here)

(10) ‘Apotemnophilia’. Wikipedia article. (here)

(11) Ovid. Metamorphoses, book 9, trans. by Brooks More. (here)

(12) Franz, M-L von (1993). The Feminine in Fairy Tales. Shambala. (ch.3).

(13) Franz, M-L von (1980). Alchemy – An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology. Inner City Books, p.98.

(14) Winther, M. (2008). ‘An intrusion of matriarchal consciousness’. (here)

(15) Sofie’s documentary about sexual harassment in Belgium is here.

(16) ‘Seth’. (2012). Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago.

(17) ‘Apoptosis’. Wikipedia article. (here)

(18) Begley, S. (2011). ‘The Downside of Antioxidants’. Newsweek. (here).

(19) Walker, B. (1983). Gnosticism – its History and Influence. Crucible.

(20) Mail Online article, ‘Please God, make it stop!’ Mail Online, 27 June 2012. (here)

(21) ‘Shadow’. The unconscious and often dark aspect of personality. See Jung Lexicon by D. Sharp. (here)

(22) Asper, K. (1993). The Abandoned Child Within – On Losing And Regaining Self-worth. Fromm International Publishing Corp.

(23) Franz, M-L von (2002). Animus and Anima in Fairy Tales. Inner City Books. (ch.1)

         ------------       (1999). Archetypal Dimension of the Psyche. Shambala. (pp.247f)

(24) Jung, C.G. (1989). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Vintage. (pp.11f.)

(25) Winther, M. (2012). ‘Understanding European psychology’. (here)

(26) Lifton, R.J. (1999). Destroying the World to Save It – Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism. Metropolitan Books. (pp.25-38)

(27) Gat, A. (2008). War in Human Civilization. Oxford University Press.

(28) Kaster, J. (1970). The literature and mythology of ancient Egypt. Allen Lane. (p.248)

(29) Jacobs, A. (2004). ‘Towards a structural theory of matricide: psychoanalysis, the Oresteia and the maternal prohibition’. Women: A Cultural Review, Volume 15, Issue 1. (here)

(30) Jacobs, A. ‘Why Matricide?’ (here)

(31) ‘Diarchy’. Wikipedia article. (here)

(32) Winther, M. (2011). ‘The Complementarian Self’. (here)

(33) ‘Saint Lucy’. Wikipedia article. (here)

(34) ‘2012 Aurora shooting’. Wikipedia article. (here)

(35) Gottfried, P. (2012). ‘Institutions of Higher Emoting’. Taki’s Magazine, July 25 2012. (here)

(36) Winther, M. (2010). ‘A Critique of Feminism – On Women’s Collective Shadow’. (here)

(37) Spielrein, S. (1994). ‘Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being’. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp.155-186, April 1994. (here)

(38) Velde, H. te (1967). Seth, God of Confusion – a study of his role in Egyptian mythology and religion. Leiden: Brill.


See also:

Winther, M. (2003). ‘Winnicott’s Dream: A Critique of Winnicott’s Thought as a Form of Mystical Narcissism’. (here)

   ---------    (2006). ‘The psychodynamics of terrorism’. (here)

   ---------    (2011). ‘Mysterium Iniquitatis – the Mystery of Evil’. (here)

‘Death drive’. Wikipedia article. (here)








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