Jung, Individuation, and Shamanism


According to historian  philosopher Mircea Eliade,  has been around for millennia, practically as long as humans have existed. In recent decades, the archetype of  has experienced a rebirth. With growing consciousness, more  more individuals are recognizing spontaneously  consistently what our indigenous ancestors knew: that there is a divine intelligence at work in the universe, a life force of love  light, of which, by nature  birthright, we are an integral part.

Anne Baring (2007), psychologist  author, notes that C.G.  himself commented on the capacity of humans to respond to this greater force, saying:

The archetypal image of the wise man, the saviour or redeemer, lies buried dormant in man’s unconscious since the dawn of culture; it is awakened whenever the times are out of joint  a human society is committed to a serious error…These primordial images are … called into being by the waywardness of the general outlook. When conscious life is characterised by one-sidedness  by a false attitude, they are activated…”instinctively” … in the dreams of individuals the visions of artists  seers. (Read a great post on Alchemy  the Hermetic Tradition: Mircea Eliade here).

In her article, “Sacred Plants  the Goddess”, Susana Valadez quotes the late Mazatec shamaness, Maria Sabina, who says, “There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby,  invisible.  this is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits  the saints, a world where everything is known. That world talks. It has a language of its own.

By contrast, modern humankind in western consumer-based societies seems destined to live our lives in a sterile box, limited on all sides by stark white walls, traveling forward in one direction  marking progress by the number of strides we take in any given day. Little do we know there is something that surrounds us, a force that supersedes our wildest imaginings; a creative wellspring that, if we were to partake of it, would allow us to fulfill our greatest potential  to remember once  for all who we really are.

We can taste that supernal realm through ritual, trance, chanting,  calling upon energies that inhabit that realm,  by using the mala as a map to locate our self in relation to the sacred realm  to create a practice that will sustain us  allow us to grow evolve. If we can but learn to surrender, to offer our lives as we know them in spontaneous offering to the powers that be, to make a mixed feast for the hungry ghosts, we will gain entry into the world beyond  that will give meaning to the lives we live.

Ritual is a critical aspect of . Vicki Noble (Motherpeace, 2001) says, “ritual happens, …creating the space for it to happen is really all one has to do.” The magic of ritual lies in its structure  ability to channel energies in a direction of focused intention positive growth. In other words, if we will but open ourselves  create space in our lives  then be observant, regarding the magic around us, it will unfold.

Our ancestors have known for millennia the power of ritual. They observed that natural rhythms of nature  paused to honor the subsequent openings of the window between our perceived reality  the reality of the spiritual realm which occurred naturally on specific days of the year based on the lunar calendar. Solstices  cross-quarter days (like the one coming up on February 2nd!) offer up age-old opportunities to tap into the magical realm of power when the veil is thin. Specifically, Imbolc (also known from its Celtic roots as St Brighid’s Day or Clemas) is the day halfway between Winter Solstice  the Spring Equinox. Thus it is a powerful day of prophecy transformation, a time when ritual celebration of healing  rebirth can bring us renewed life  wholeness. Through dedicated ritual, we can approach the portals that connect this world with the one beyond  allow the beauty  creativity to shine through  give meaning to our lives.

Musician Gabriel Roth describes the state from which humankind must break away if we are to experience the ecstasy  knowledge of the spiritual realm. “The soul starves,” she says. “Our bodies get locked into patterns. We get stiff with repetition. Our hearts also become rigidified into automatic routines. We’re soon numb, insensitive to what we really feel.  our minds are quickly blinded by unquestioned assumptions, guiding attitudes that don’t allow us to see what’s out there, let alone explore the world’s fullness” (p. 13). She speaks of “awakening the shamanic dimension of ourselves” through movement  dance.

Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux medicine man, suggested: “Peace comes in within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe  all its powers,  when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan Tanka [The Great Spirit],  that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” , too, believed in individuation, a coming into wholeness with the self, a feat made easier, perhaps, through alignment with nature  forces greater than our every day ego selves.

If you have an interest in shamanic practices  ways in which you can be more truly yourself while honoring ancient practices, delve in. Two of the best books I’ve read which correlate ian psychology   are “   in Dialogue: Retrieving Soul / Retrieving the Sacred” by C. Michael Smith, Ph.D,  “  the Psychology of C.G. : The Great Circle” by Robert E. Ryan. You may also have interest in an essay of mine entitled “The Shamanic Perspective: Where ian Thought  Archetypal Converge.” There are also many shamanic practitioners /or therapists who integrate shamanic work into their practice listed here onDepthPsychologyList.com.


About Bonnie Bright

Bonnie Bright, Ph.D., is a transformative, soul-centered coach (via Alef Trust) and a certified Archetypal Pattern Analyst® (via Assisi Institute). She earned M.A. degrees in Psychology at Sonoma State University and in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also received her Ph.D.. She is the founder and Director Emerita of Depth Psychology Alliance™, an online community for everyone interested in Jungian and depth psychologies. Bonnie served as Executive Editor of Depth Insights™, a scholarly journal which she created, for six years, and she regularly produces audio and video interviews on Jungian/transpersonal/depth psychological topics. She completed a 2-year training in Indigenous African Spiritual Technologies with West African elder Malidoma Somé; and she has trained extensively in dreamwork, Holotropic Breathwork™, and in the Enneagram. Her interests in archaeology, ecology, anthropology, shamanism, history, and culture have led her to travels in nearly 40 countries around the world.