This piece is from Awaken in the Dream Published with Paul’s permission.
ARE WE POSSESSED?
by Paul Levy
C. G. Jung, the great doctor of the soul and one of the most inspired psychologists of the twentieth century, had incredible insight into what is currently playing out, both individually and collectively, in our modern-day world. He writes, “If, for a moment, we look at mankind as one individual, we see that it is like a man carried away by unconscious powers.” We are a species carried away — “possessed” by — and acting out, the unconscious. Jung elaborates, “Possession, though old-fashioned, has by no means become obsolete; only the name has changed. Formerly they spoke of ‘evil spirits,’ now we call them ‘neurosis’ or ‘unconscious complexes.’” To condescendingly think that we, as modern-day, rational people, are too sophisticated to believe in something as primitive as demons is to have fallen under the spell of the very evil spirits we are imagining are nonexistent. What the ancients call demons are a psychic phenomena which compel us to act out behaviors contrary to our best intentions. To quote Jung, “…the psychic conditions which breed demons are as actively at work as ever. The demons have not really disappeared but have merely taken on another form: they have become unconscious psychic forces.”
“Possession,” according to Jung is “a primordial psychic phenomenon” that “denotes a peculiar state of mind characterized by the fact that certain psychic contents, the so-called complexes, take over the control of the total personality in place of the ego, at least temporarily, to such a degree that the free will of the ego is suspended.” Though the possessed might imagine they have free will, their freedom is an illusion. They are unwittingly being used as an instrument for some “other” energy or force to incarnate and express itself through them. Having complexes is not necessarily pathological, as everyone has them. What is pathological, however, is thinking we don’t have complexes, which is the precondition that makes us most vulnerable to possession. Jung clarifies, “Everyone knows nowadays that people ‘have complexes.’ What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us.” The more complexes we have, the more we are possessed. We don’t need to get rid of our complexes, rather, we need to become consciously aware of them. What is important is what we do with our complexes.
Complexes are the psychic agencies which flavor and determine our psychological view of the world. To quote Jung, “The via regia [royal road] to the unconscious, however, is not the dream…but the complex, which is the author of dreams and of symptoms.” Thematically organized (such as the power-complex, savior-complex, mother-complex, inferiority complex, etc.), the complexes are the vehicles that flesh out the rich repository of contents of the underlying archetypes, giving the formless archetypes a specifically human face. Complexes are the living elemental units of the psyche, acting like the focal or nodal points of psychic life, in which the energy charge of the various archetypes of the collective unconscious are concentrated. An emotionally-charged complex acts like the epicenter of a magnetic field, attracting and potentially assimilating into itself everything that has any resonance, relevance or is related to itself in any way. This inner process can be seen as it en-acts itself in the outer world when we come in contact with someone who has an activated complex and we find ourselves drafted into their process, picking up a role in their psyche. This is an outer reflection of how a complex can attract, co-opt and subsume other parts of the environment, both inner and outer, into itself. Complexes, when split-off from consciousness, can potentially engulf and possess the whole personality.
“Possession” is an interesting word. It conjures up immediate associations of the Devil, who, mythologically speaking, is the one who “possesses” us, in the demonic sense of the word. Jung, however, differentiates his meaning of the word “possession” from the meaning associated with the Catholic Church, for example, when he writes, “The Church’s idea of possession, therefore, is limited to extremely rare cases, whereas I would use it in a much wider sense as designating a frequently occurring psychic phenomenon.” Possession, psychologically speaking, is to identify with a complex of the unconscious, and become taken over by it such that we act it out in, as and through our lives. Who among us hasn’t done this? Who among us shall cast the first stone?
Synchronistically, as I write this article, multiple examples of people becoming possessed by and en-acting their unconscious on the world stage happened for everyone to see. Tennis star Serena Williams “losing it” when she fell into a rage at the U. S. Open, Republican congressman Joe Wilson’s unrestrained outburst, yelling “You lie,” during President Obama’s speech in front of congress, and rapper Kanye West melting down and rudely interrupting and ruining country singer Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards all illustrate exactly what I am pointing at. They were all “taken over by something.”
Jung writes, “since the world began, mankind has been possessed.” Possession is synonymous with bondage. Jung comments that in states of possession it comes down to “the same age-old experience: something objectively psychic and strange to us, not under our control, is fixedly opposed to the sovereignty of our will.” Possession means being supplanted by something stronger, being taken over and “owned” by something other than ourselves. Jung says, “Wherever we are still attached, we are still possessed; and when we are possessed, there is one stronger than us who possesses us.” We’ve all had moments where we’ve been possessed by something, where we’ve felt “not ourselves,” where we are no longer identical with ourselves. Some of us spend our whole lives living someone else’s life instead of our own. We’ve all had moments where “something” has gotten into us, where we feel out of sorts, beside ourselves. When deeper, primordial archetypes seize us, Jung writes “They easily catch hold of you and you are possessed as if they were lions or bears, say – primitive forces which are quite definitely stronger than you.”
At any moment any one of us can become “possessed” by the unconscious in a way such that a more powerful energy than our conscious ego moves and animates us. To quote Jung, “…it easily happens to any one of us that we do not act through our own volition. Then I cannot say I do, but it is done through me; something takes possession of me, the very action can take possession of me.” When we have fallen into our unconscious and compulsively en-act an unconscious complex, we become manipulated by more powerful forces than ourselves. In Jung’s words, a person then becomes “the devil’s marionette. This could happen only because he believed he had abolished the demons by declaring them to be superstition. He overlooked the fact that they were, at bottom, the products of certain factors in the human psyche.” In dismissing the demons as being mere illusions without realizing their psychological reality, we unwittingly become possessed by them. The demons are ultimately split-off, rejected, and disowned parts of the psyche that are experienced as alien and other than who we imagine ourselves to be (please see my article, “Meeting the Other Within”). The demons, psychologically speaking, are very real, in that they alter our experience of ourselves. Jung says, “As a rule there is a marked unconsciousness of any complexes, and this naturally guarantees them all the more freedom of action. In such cases their powers of assimilation become especially pronounced, since unconsciousness helps the complex to assimilate even the ego, the result being a momentary and unconscious alteration of personality known as identification with the complex. In the Middle Ages it went by another name; it was called possession.” We, as “modern” people, to the extent we are acting out our unconscious, are as much “plagued” by possession as people in the Middle Ages.
Jung comments, “…in all cases identification with the unconscious [complex] brings a weakening of consciousness, and herein lies the danger. You do not ‘make’ an identification, you do not ‘identify yourself,’ but you experience your identity with the archetype in an unconscious way and so are possessed by it.” Anything we are unconsciously identical with we are possessed by, and hence, compelled to act out in our life without understanding why. Though we have dismissed the idea of demons on the altar of our rationality, to quote Jung, “…man himself has taken over their role without knowing it and does the devilish work of destruction with far more effective tools than the spirits did. In the olden days men were brutal, now they are dehumanized and possessed to a degree that even the blackest Middle Ages did not know.” More than ever, current-day humanity is certainly acting as if it’s a species possessed. Eminent theologian and 9/11 Truth Activist David Ray Griffin writes, “It does seem that we are possessed by some demonic power that is leading us, trancelike, into self-destruction.”
Jung comments, “…an unknown ‘something’ has taken possession of a smaller or greater portion of the psyche and asserts its hateful and harmful existence undeterred by all our insight, reason, and energy, thereby proclaiming the power of the unconscious over the conscious mind, the sovereign power of possession.” When we are possessed we are not free, we are not masters in our own house. When we are possessed by the unconscious, we become dissociated from ourselves such that, as Jung writes, there is “a tearing loose of part of one’s nature; it is the disappearance and emancipation of a complex, which thereupon becomes a tyrannical usurper of consciousness, oppressing the whole man. It throws him off course and drives him to actions whose blind one-sidedness inevitably leads to self-destruction.”
“Autonomous complexes” are parts of the psyche which have split-off due to shock, trauma, or breach of our boundaries, and have developed a seemingly autonomous life and apparently independent will of their own. Though we are unconsciously identified with them, autonomous complexes are subjectively experienced as other than ourselves. Apart from their inherent obscurity and strangeness, our unconscious identification with autonomous complexes is the essential reason why it is so hard to get a handle on them. Autonomous complexes act upon us, they feel like our most intimate self, eventually need to be owned, but paradoxically, don’t belong to us. The seeming autonomy of the archetypes and complexes is what gives rise to the idea of supernatural beings. Endowed with a numinous energy, autonomous complexes are what our ancestors used to call “demons.” Autonomous complexes are a psychological name for the demons in the archetypal process of addiction that animate us to compulsively act out our addictive behavior. A demon or autonomous complex, to quote Jung, “behaves like an animated foreign body in the sphere of consciousness. The complex can usually be suppressed, with an effort of will, but not argued out of existence, and at the first suitable opportunity it reappears in all its original strength.” Due to their lack of association with the conscious ego, autonomous complexes are typically not open to being influenced, educated, nor corrected by “reality.” An intruder from the unconscious and a disturber of the peace, an autonomous complex, Jung points out, “behaves exactly like a goblin that is always eluding our grasp.” If left un-reflected upon, these demons or autonomous complexes wreak havoc for everyone within their sphere of influence.
Jung writes, “…any autonomous complex not subject to the conscious will exerts a possessive effect on consciousness proportional to its strength and limits the latter’s freedom.” As it takes over and becomes in charge of a person, a complex incorporates a seemingly autonomous regime within the greater body politic of the psyche. Writing about autonomous complexes, Jung says “…the complex forms something like a shadow government of the ego,” in that the complex dictates to the ego. When we are taken over by and in internal conflict with and because of an autonomous complex, it is as if we, as natural rulers of our own psychic landscape, have been deposed, and are living in an occupied country. We are allowed our seeming freedom as long as it doesn’t threaten the sovereignty and dominance of the ruling power. Jung comments, “…a man does not notice it when he is governed by a demon; he puts all his skill and cunning at the service of his unconscious master, thereby heightening its power a thousandfold.” Being nonlocal, this inner, psychological situation can manifest both within our psyche and out in the world at the same time.
Demons or autonomous complexes have a possessive and obsessive effect on consciousness. Interestingly, the word “obsession” originally meant to be under the influence of an evil “possession.” Obsession refers to certain ideas that have taken possession of the person. We can become possessed by unshakable ideas of the way things should be or who we think we are, oppressing and tyrannizing both ourselves and others who hold a different viewpoint in the process. Jung writes, “The idea is like an autonomous being that wants a body so much that it even incarnates in the body; one begins to play, to perform the idea, and then people say one is completely mad. The idea has taken possession of one till it is as if one were out of one’s mind.” Millions of our species have killed and been killed over a fixed idea.
Commandeering and colonizing our psyche, a split-off, autonomous complex is, potentially, like a “vampiric virus,” in that it is fundamentally “dead” matter; it is only in a living being that it acquires a quasi-life. Just like a vampire re-vitalizes itself by sucking our life-force, when we unconsciously identify with an activated autonomous complex, we are literally animating and en-livening the undead. Complicit in our own victimization, we then unwittingly give away our freedom, power, and life-force in the process.
Like cancer cells ravaging the body, dis-associated, autonomous complexes are like “splinter psyches” that can become overly swollen with psychic energy, and then will propagate and metastasize themselves within the psyche, consuming, devouring, and cannibalizing the healthy aspects of the psyche. Drawing and attracting all of the wholesome parts of the psyche into itself, an autonomous complex can potentially warp and destroy the psyche of the person (or nation) so afflicted, nonlocally infecting and spreading by psychic contagion its malaise to the surrounding field in the process.
An autonomous complex can’t stand to be seen, however, in much the same way that a vampire detests the light. A demon or autonomous complex will shape-shift and do everything in its power to resist being illumined, for once it is seen, its autonomy and omnipotence are taken away. Anchored, connected and related to consciousness, the demon or autonomous complex can then no longer vaporize back into the unconscious, which is to say it is no longer able to possess us from behind and beneath our conscious awareness so as to compel us to unwittingly act it out and do its bidding (please see my article “Shedding Light on Evil”).
FINDING THE NAME
When we “see” a demon, we know its name, which helps us to get a “handle” on it. Naming is exorcistic, as it dis-spells the demon’s power over us. Jung says that “The act of naming is, like baptism, extremely important as regards the creation of personality, for a magical power has been attributed to the name since time immemorial. To know the secret name of a person [or a demon] is to have power over him.” Elsewhere, Jung writes, “For mankind it was always like a deliverance from a nightmare when the new name was found.” Finding the name is an act of power. Jung comments, “The moment you can designate the lived archetype by its symbol, you feel relieved, that is a good and positive moment even if it is horrible…Therefore old Egyptian medicine consisted in giving the thing the right name…A new name always produces an extraordinary effect; we cannot rationalize these things, they cast a spell, they are symbols, they really do influence the unconscious as the unconscious influences us.”
It is very important for us to re-introduce the words “demon” and “possession” back into our vocabulary, minus the fear that we will be seen as being primitive, crazy or even possessed ourselves if we use such words. We need to expand our psycho-spiritual fluency to enable us to navigate the living waters of our inner and outer landscapes. Being “possessed by demons” – taken over by unconscious, psychic forces – is something that happens to all of us, and it is to our great advantage to be able to properly name our experience. Finding the name empowers us to creatively engage with these parts of ourselves that are emerging from the shadows “in the name of healing.”
How do we make a word? We “spell” it. In finding the words for our experience, we are casting a “positive spell” whose nonlocal orbit and influence is liberating. We are then able to consciously language and give voice to our experience, which is to step into and access the creative spirit. In learning new, creative ways to express ourselves, we are dis-spelling the curse we were under of not being able to symbolize our experience. In learning to consciously spell-cast, the world is no longer written in stone, with us as its passive victims, as we realize and tap into the creative and transformative power of the Word, the Logos. As it says in the Bible, “And first was the word. And the word was with God. And the word was God.” Creating a new language so as to re-create ourselves anew, we step into the archetypal figures of the “Wounded Healer” (read Part 1 and Part 2), and the “Creative Artist.” In animating these archetypal figures, we actively and creatively participate in our own evolutionary process, expanding and refining the ways we tel-empathically commune and telepathically communicate with each other, as well as with ourselves.
In addition, part of re-establishing the words “demon” and “possession” as meaning-filled is to complement these words with the idea that if we have a reaction and become “triggered” by these words, the figure within us who is being triggered might be the very demon who is possessing us (please see my article “Triggered by Evil”). I’ve coined the name “NonLocal Demon” (“NLD” for short) to “capture” this elusive, mercurial and nonlocal demon that “haunts” our world. Like minting a coin, when we coin a phrase and find the name, we create currency in the realm of mind with which to engage in commerce with each other, as well as with ourselves. This is to generate consciousness, which is something of genuine value. Once we see how the NLD clandestinely operates throughout the underlying field of consciousness by hiding and obfuscating itself through our unconscious, hooking and insinuating itself into our blind spots, we have simultaneously taken away its power and empowered ourselves, creating a wealth of new ways for us to creatively respond that were previously unavailable. Being nonlocal, one of the ways the NLD incarnates itself is through our internal, unconscious re-actions to encountering the myriad and ever shape-shifting forms and guises of the NLD in the outer world. The way to most effectively deal with a demon is to courageously turn our attention upon what it triggers inside of us. The Gnostic text “The Gospel of Philip” says,
So long as the root of wickedness is hidden, it is strong. But when it is recognized, it is dissolved When it is revealed, it perishes…As for ourselves, let us each dig down after the root of evil which is within each of us, and produces its fruit in our hearts. It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive, to make us do what we do not want, and what we do want, we do not do. It is powerful because we have not recognized it. (II, 3, 83.5-30)
The source of the demons lies within ourselves. As compared to existing “by virtue” of something, demons can only live by the “lack of virtue” of our own obscured and unexamined minds. The above Gnostic quote brings to mind Paul’s famous passage from the New Testament, “That which I would do, I do not, and that which I would not do, I do.” (Romans 7:15 King James version), which is a clear and simple expression of our human proclivity for possession if there ever was one. An un-illumined and unrecognized autonomous complex diabolically compels us to act out contrary to our best intentions, as any of us who’ve struggled with any form of addictive behavior knows from our own experience. Being possessed by demons is a problem as old as humanity.
We are all potential shamans and healers, for as we metabolize the darkness and assimilate our own demons, we add light to and nonlocally “lighten-up” the collective shadow for everyone (please see my article, “We are all Shamans-in-Training”). If the demons are not integrated, neither is the human soul, which is to say that embracing and integrating our demons is critical to the evolution of the soul. Jung ponders, “How can evil be integrated? There is only one possibility: to assimilate it, that is to say, raise it to the level of consciousness.” Raising the demons to the level of consciousness takes away their autonomous existence, as they rejoin the profound unity of the psyche. Jung comments, “Then the opus magnum [the ‘great work’ of alchemy] is finished; the human soul is completely integrated.” (please see my article,“The Sacred Art of Alchemy”).
To quote noted psychologist Rollo May, the daemonic is “any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person [or whole nation]…the daemonic can be either creative or destructive [i.e., demonic]…violence is the daemonic gone awry…ages [such as ours] tend to be times when the daemonic is expressed in its most destructive form.” The daemonic is not an objectively existing metaphysical entity in the Christian sense, but is an archetypal function of human experience, a psychic as well as an existential reality in which we all participate.
The daemonic is an archetypal energy which can take over a person, group or a nation. Jung writes, “We know that an archetype can break with shattering force into an individual human life and into the life of a nation.” Archetypes are living, dynamic entities, psychological instincts or informational fields of influence that provide the underlying template which patterns human behavior, perception and experience. The daemonic announces itself by drafting people into its service, enlisting human beings as instruments of its full-bodied revelation of itself. Jung comments, “One does not realize yet that when an archetype is unconsciously constellated and not consciously understood, one is possessed by it and forced to its fatal goal.” The daemonic expresses itself by conscripting us to its cause and compelling us to unconsciously act it out so as to give living form to itself in the third dimension.
The word daemonic is related to “the devil,” which in turn is related to the word diabolic, whose inner meaning is to divide, separate, and dis-integrate. Being divisive, the diabolic splits us into multiple fragmented and compartmentalized pieces. Jung comments, “Possession by the unconscious means being torn apart into many people and things, a disiunctio. That is why, according to Origen [an early Christian theologian], the aim of the Christian is to become an inwardly united human being.” Becoming a true follower of Christ, who is symbolic of the wholly integrated Self, is to transform the diabolical nature of the disiunctio into a sacred coniunctio, where all the parts of the psyche are connected and the opposites unite. This is why the greatest protection against demons is to be in touch with our intrinsic wholeness, which is to be “self-possessed,” — in possession of the part of ourselves that is not possess-able, which is the Self, the wholeness of our being. The antonym of diabolic is the word symbolic, which, in addition to being the language of dreams, means to unite, bring together and integrate. The daemonic is a quantum phenomenon, in that it contains both the symbolic and diabolic encoded within it in a superposed state, which is to say that hidden within the daemonic is the creative seeds of its own transformation. Both constructive and destructive forces are fully present in the daemonic simultaneously, and either energy can potentially manifest, depending upon how an observing consciousness interacts with it.
To quote Jung, “…the daemon of the inner voice is at once our greatest danger and an indispensable help.” Hidden in the daemonic is our inner voice, our guiding spirit, our angel, and our genius. Jung refers to the daemonic as the “not yet realized creative,” which is to say it is creativity not yet “made real” or actualized by the ego. Developing a healthy and strong ego is crucially important in entering into relationship with and creatively expressing the daemonic energies within us. One of the most destructive things in the human psyche is unrealized creativity.
If the daemonic is not honored and treated religiously (i.e., carefully considered with reverence and a sense of the sacred), however, it constellates negatively and turns truly “demonic,” in the destructive sense of the word. Jung comments, “Generally speaking the daemonic is that moment when an unconscious content of seemingly overwhelming power appears on the threshold of consciousness. It can cross this threshold and seize hold of the personality. Then it is possession.” Before an archetype can be consciously integrated, it will always manifest itself physically, because, in Jung’s words, “…it forces the subject into its own form.” In its negative form, which is a truly virulent form of madness, we, because of our unconsciousness, become a living conduit for the incarnation of an inhuman, malevolent, predatory, rapacious energy that only cares about feeding its own insatiable narcissism, ultimately victimizing, consuming, and cannibalizing both ourselves and others in the process. Describing this moment of being possessed, Jung elaborates, “The beast of prey seizes hold of him and soon makes him forget that he is a human being. His animal affects hamper any reflection that might stand in the way of his infantile wish-fulfillments, filling him instead with a feeling of a new-won right to existence and intoxicating him with the lust for booty and blood.” This in-toxic-ating energy, which is the narcissistic ego running wild as it entrances itself, is the fuel which animates any form of addiction. “Intoxication,” to quote Jung, is “that most direct and dangerous form of possession,” as unless it is reflected upon, and therefore illuminated and transformed by the light of consciousness, it inevitably leads to self-destruction.
Jung reminds us that “Insanity is possession by an unconscious content that, as such, is not assimilated to consciousness, nor can it be assimilated since the very existence of such conditions is denied.” We then fall into the infinite regression and self-perpetuating feedback loop of denying we are in denial, a self-created strain of madness that I have given the name “malignant egophrenia,” or “ME disease” for short. This is a form of self-deception, dissociation and psychic blindness in which we are ultimately lying to and hiding from ourselves. At a certain point this process entrenches itself within the psyche such that it develops sufficient momentum to seemingly become its own self-generating, autonomous entity. We’ve then become a “problem” to ourselves, creating our own Frankenstein monster in the process, and it is us. We can then be said to be the incarnation of ME disease in the flesh, its revelation in human form. Similar to being possessed by a demon, being taken over by ME disease is simultaneously its own self-revelation; encoded within the apparent pathology is its own medicine.
One of the main ways that demons become empowered within us is when we are unconscious of our shadow. Jung says, “Anyone who is unaware of his shadow is too wonderful, too good, he has a wrong idea of himself, and to that extent such a person is possessed.” The extent to which we are unconscious of our shadow is the extent to which we are unaware of our potential to unwittingly enact our unconscious in a way which could be hurtful. Jung writes, “If we don’t see the negative side of what we do, what we are, we are possessed…Only through understanding of unconscious aspects, as a rule, can we liberate ourselves from possession.” Understanding “unconscious aspects” is to shed light on darker, asleep parts of ourselves – “the negative side of what we do” — which is essentially the act of becoming conscious. The demons act themselves out through our psychic blind-spots. Jung comments, “…the demon that is always with you is the shadow following after you, and it is always where your eyes are not.”
The places where we are possessed by our unconscious are the places in ourselves where we are not able to see, where “our eyes are not,” where we are unable to self-reflectively speculate. Symbolically, this is like a vampire who casts no reflection in the mirror. Jung writes, “Since nobody is capable of recognizing just where and how much he himself is possessed and unconscious, he simply projects his own condition upon his neighbor, and thus it becomes a sacred duty to have the biggest guns and the most poisonous gas.” Interestingly, Jung simply refers to “shadow projection,” a process in which we project our own un-embraced aspects (our “own condition”) onto our neighbor, as “the lie.” One of the meanings of the word “devil” is “the liar.” (please see my articles “Shadow Projection: The Fuel of War,” and “Shadow Projection is its Own Medicine”). Projecting our shadow onto others is an activity which is itself an expression of the devil who is hiding within us, lurking behind the projection. Speaking about how easy it is for the “demons” to find a new victim, Jung comments, “…that won’t be difficult. Every man who loses his shadow, every nation that falls into self-righteousness, is their prey.”
Jung comments on the state of being possessed by an archetype such as the daemonic when he writes, “For an archetype has a life of its own; the life that is proper and peculiar to the archetype shows its autonomy by the fact that it can swallow one’s own life. It is so strong that one can be swallowed up into it and be nothing but that archetype. Of course, one does not know it.” The formless, invisible archetype has in-formed itself and made itself visible through the person, group or nation which it seizes. They can be said to be the living incarnation of the archetype, as they are its full-blown revelation in form.
An essential quality of being possessed by the unconscious is that we don’t know we’re possessed, for if we knew, we wouldn’t be possessed. To quote Jung, “When you are just at one with a thing you are completely identical – you cannot comprehend it, you cannot discriminate, you cannot recognize it.” When we are identical with something, we are not able to differentiate ourselves from it, which is to say, we have no freedom of choice relative to that with which we are unconsciously identified. When we identify with and act out the unconscious, we are truly unconscious.
Jung conjectures, “suppose I am identical with an archetype; I don’t know it and the archetype of course won’t tell me, because I am already possessed and inundated by the archetype…Just as I pay no attention to the hammer I use; I use it and afterwards I throw it away. It is not a personal hammer. That is the way the archetype uses man, simply as an instrument, as a tool of a most transitory kind.” Even though an archetype expresses itself through individuals, an archetype is impersonal. Archetypes enlist us for their purposes, taking possession of us like a piece of property, and drop us when we are no longer of use. Jung continues, “But the man is of course in an awful situation. He is possessed, and he cannot defend himself, for he doesn’t even know that he is possessed, and that is a wonderful opportunity for the unconscious.” Not knowing we are possessed by the unconscious, it is as if the parents aren’t home, creating an opportunity for the kids (the unconscious) to act out without restraint.
Jung says, “The forces that burst out of the collective psyche have a confusing and blinding effect.” The emergence of unconscious forces out of the collective unconscious typically evokes confusion and blindness, i.e., unconsciousness. Jung continues, “…as the influence of the collective unconscious increases, so the conscious mind loses its power of leadership. Imperceptibly it becomes the led, while an unconscious and impersonal process gradually takes control. Thus, without noticing it, the conscious personality is pushed about like a figure on a chess-board by an invisible player. It is this player who decides the game of fate, not the conscious mind and its plans.” It is as if an invisible coup has taken place within the psyche. Falling into self-deception, the conscious mind is under the illusion that it is deciding, that it is in control, while it is actually being led and manipulated like a puppet. To quote W. H. Auden, “We are lived by Powers we pretend to understand.”
Jung says, “The devil is the aping shadow of God.” When we are possessed by the unconscious, a more powerful, archetypal energy shape-shifts and takes on our seeming form, which we absorb into, identify with and believe to be who we are. Bamboozled and hoodwinked by the slick “salesmanship” of this imposter of ourselves, we “buy” into its version of who we are. We then live a simulation of ourselves, miming ourselves, becoming a master copy, a duplicate of our original selves. To the extent we are unconsciously possessed by the daemon, it is as if a psychic parasite has taken over our brain and tricked us, its host, into thinking we are feeding and empowering ourselves while we are actually nourishing the parasite. It is as if our soul has become hijacked by a deeper, archetypal force, and has been replaced with a pale imitation of ourselves, and, to the extent we are taken over, we don’t even realize it. Archetypes, Jung points out, “have the most disagreeable quality of appearing in your own guise.” The spirit of the unconscious impersonates us, fooling even ourselves, as it cloaks itself in our form. This mercurial spirit has “put us on” as a disguise, appearing as ourselves, or at least who we imagine ourselves to be.
Describing the experience of being led and taken over by the unconscious, Jung continues, “whenever a powerful content emerges from the unconscious, which we cannot yet grasp with our consciousness, there is a danger that the whole ego-consciousness will be pulled down into the unconscious and dissolved…Consciousness is completely emptied, because its contents are attracted by the unconscious as by a magnet. This process leads to a complete loss of the ego, so that the person in question becomes a mere automaton. Such a person is actually no longer there.” How many people do we know, including at times even ourselves, who zombie-like, compulsively and mechanically enact their habitual patterns with no spontaneity or creativity, like a programmed robot?
Jung says, “One can only alter one’s attitude and thus save oneself from naively falling into an archetype and being forced to act a part at the expense of one’s humanity. Possession by an archetype turns a man into a flat collective figure, a mask behind which he can no longer develop as a human being, but becomes increasingly stunted.” When we are possessed by an archetype, it’s as if we are frozen back in time, akin to what happens in trauma, where we become fixated in a rigidified and self-reinforcing point of view. Unconsciously identified with the “persona,” the façade personality that we’ve created for protection and present to the world, we have no real depth, and stop growing and evolving. “Altering” our attitude would be to step out of our “alter-personality,” which is to stop compulsively and ritualistically worshipping at the “altar” of the false self, and step into our authentic self.
Jung elaborates on the process of falling under the spell of an activated archetype when he writes, “…an archetype is mobilized within him which affects him like a narcotic. That is typical; when you get into a situation where an archetype becomes constellated, you will undergo this peculiar hypnotic effect; you fall asleep rather suddenly. It has a peculiar fascination which makes you unconscious.” The image of Dorothy and friends falling asleep in the poppy field as they approach the Emerald City in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” symbolically expresses this arche-typical situation of falling under a spell as we approach the sacred.
Jung points out that “The potentialities of the archetype, for good and evil alike, transcend our human capacities many times, and a man can appropriate its power only by identifying with the daemon, by letting himself be possessed by it, thus forfeiting his own humanity.” In unconsciously identifying with and becoming possessed by the daemon, on the personal, human level we forfeit our humanity and become an empty shell. At the same time, however, we access, become channels for and are inflated by a more powerful, archetypal, and nonhuman energy to come through us. When we are possessed by an archetype, we are a paradoxical juxtaposition of subhuman and superhuman qualities at the same time.
Jung continues, “…anyone possessed by an archetype cannot help having all the symptoms of an inflation. For the archetype is nothing human; no archetype is properly human. The archetype itself is an exaggeration and it reaches beyond the confines of humanity…So anybody possessed by an archetype develops inhuman qualities.” When we become taken over by an archetype we become inflated, unconsciously identifying with God-like powers while simultaneously forgetting our humanity. Jung clarifies, “…we see the characteristic effect of the archetype: it seizes hold of the psyche with a kind of primeval force and compels it to transgress the bounds of humanity. It causes exaggeration, a puffed-up attitude (inflation), loss of free will, delusion, and enthusiasm in good and evil alike.” Interestingly, one of the meanings of the word “evil,” etymologically speaking, is to transgress boundaries.
Continuing his description of the state of being possessed by an archetype, Jung says “…when a person has an unconscious content – say a certain archetype is constellated – then his conscious, not realizing what the matter is, will be filled with the emanation or radiation of that activated archetype. And then he behaves unconsciously as if he were that archetype, but he expresses the identity in terms of his ego personality…For he unconsciously plays a role and tries to represent something which he has taken to be his own self.” Behaving as if he, as an ego, were that archetype, he plays a mythical, archetypal role and unconsciously identifies with it (“which he has taken to be his own self”), fooling himself, and potentially others, in the process. Jung continues, “You see, the unconscious activated archetype is like a rising sun, a source of energy or warmth which warms up the ego personality from within, and then the ego personality begins to radiate as if it were God-knows-what.” The formless archetype takes on and expresses itself through the limited and particular form of the ego personality. The activated archetype transfigures the ego from within so as to suit its purposes. Jung continues, “It is a psychological fact that an archetype can seize hold of the ego and even compel it to act as it – the archetype – wills. A man can then take on archetypal dimensions and exercise corresponding effects.”
INFLUENCING THE FIELD
Conflated with and inflated by the hypnotically fascinating psychic force-field of the archetype, people so possessed become mouthpieces and amplifiers for the archetype to transmit and nonlocally extend and incarnate itself throughout the field of consciousness. Jung writes, “people who constellate an archetype have such a hypnotic effect.” People who are gripped by an archetype have a gripping effect on others; when we are under the fascination of an archetype, we unwittingly have a fascinating influence on others. Jung makes the point that “identification with an archetypal figure lend almost superhuman force to the ordinary man.” People who are possessed by their unconscious have a very magnetic, charismatic and “possessive” effect upon others’ unconscious. The part of them that is bewitched evokes the corresponding suggestible and bedeviled part of others’ psyche and hooks it, spell-binding it and entraining it into its archetypal spin. In other words, when someone is possessed by an archetype, they are literally the channel through which that archetype, both locally and nonlocally, is materializing in the field, which is to say they wield great energetic influence on their surroundings. Jung says, “But the power of the archetype is not controlled by us; we ourselves are at its mercy to an unsuspected degree…because everyone is in some degree ‘possessed’ by his specifically human preformation, he is held fast and fascinated by it and exercises the same influence on others without being conscious of what he is doing. The danger is just this unconscious identification with the archetype.” To the extent we are identified with and hence possessed by the archetype, is the extent to which we are not conscious of the corresponding influence we have on others’ unconscious. This is a dangerous situation because it is unconsciously being en-acted in such a way that guarantees that we will abuse our unresolved power issues to the extent that we stay unconscious.
Jung gets right to the point when he writes, “When someone is able to perform the art of touching on the archetypal, he can play on the souls of people like on the strings of a piano.” Connecting with the archetypal is like plucking a higher-dimensional chord of our being, which immediately activates a resonance in the collective unconscious in whoever hears it. Just like the pendulum with the strongest swing entrains all the other pendulums into its swing, the person who is channeling the living power of the deeper, archetypal force can potentially en-train and en-trance others. This power can be used for the highest good – helping people to awaken – or it can be used for the deepest evil so as to manipulate, dis-empower and enslave other people. Being archetypal, this energy is fundamentally neither good nor bad, but can potentially manifest either way depending upon our intent.
Speaking of the hypnotic power of the archetype, Jung writes, “It gets you below the belt and not in your mind, your brain just counts for nothing, your sympathetic system is gripped. It is a power that fascinates people from within, it is the collective unconscious which is activated, it is an archetype which is common to them all that has come to life.” When an archetype is constellated, rational logic and facts have no effect. The deep emotion which is characteristic of an activated archetype ensures that, to quote Jung, “…the possibility of reason’s having any effect ceases and its place is taken by slogans and chimerical wish-fantasies. That is to say, a sort of collective possession results which rapidly develops into a psychic epidemic.” Being unconsciously identified with an archetype is extremely dangerous, in that it is at the root of both individual and collective psychoses. Our tendency to unknowingly fall into the grip of an archetype is animating what is being acted out in the world theater, which is to say that the origin of world events is the unconscious of humanity (please see my article “It’s All in the Psyche”).
Jung writes “Nobody can realize an archetype without having been identified with it first.” Speaking of our initial tendency to identify with and become hooked by activated archetypes, Jung continues, “…you cannot realize them without having been thoroughly caught by them.” No one can realize their daemon without first having been unconsciously identified with it, which is to say, caught by it, and hence, possessed by it. In the process of integration, we have to learn to experience our archetypal daemon from the outside as well as from the inside. Experiencing the archetype from the outside means to experience it objectively, as other than ourselves, which is to separate ourselves from it, for an archetype, in Jung’s words, “…can be truly understood only if experienced as an autonomous entity.” Ultimately, we have to eventually both see the archetype as an object outside of ourselves as well as experience what it’s like relative to us, which is an experience within ourselves.
Maybe there’s a hidden reason in the deeper plan of things why we, as a species, have a tendency to be taken over by our unconscious. Jung points out that “…autonomous complexes are among the normal phenomena of life and that they make up the structure of the unconscious psyche.” Having autonomous complexes, or having a spare demon or two in our closet, is a “normal” human phenomenon, something we all possess at the same time that it possesses us. Identifying with our unconscious such that we act it out, i.e., being possessed, seems to be a natural expression of the human experience. Might there be a hidden evolutionary potential, an underlying teleology, a mysterious purpose or goal, which is possessing us to act as we do?
Perhaps we are being dreamed up to be the very instruments and midwives through which the archetypes transform themselves, the world, and ourselves as well. Becoming possessed by the unconscious is, paradoxically, the way we learn how not to be possessed, which we clearly haven’t learned yet, or we wouldn’t be possessed. By differentiating ourselves from the archetype, we make it conscious, while creating ourselves relative to it. In relating to the archetype consciously, we do not fall under the thrall of the archetype, but are able to mediate, humanize and channel its transpersonal energies and contents in a constructive, creative and life-enhancing way. As we connect with each other through our lucidity, we can potentially become a vehicle through which the archetypes themselves transform and evolve, which instantaneously, and nonlocally, has a transformative and evolutionary effect throughout the entire collective field of consciousness.
Mythologically speaking, the figure of the “would-be-hero,” which is all of us in potential, is always inhabited by a daemon. Having a daemon taking up residence inside of us is the very thing that “makes” us a hero. Our heroic fight against the paralyzing grip of the daemon is initiatory, in that it calls forth our latent, creative powers. In coming to terms and wrestling with our daemon, which is to say ourselves, we create ourselves. The daemon is the source of all creativity. It takes genuine courage to do battle with these internal forces and wrest from them the mythic “treasure hard to attain,” which is none other than our soul-filled selves. Jung comments, “As the result of the political situation and the frightful, not to say diabolic, triumphs of science, we are shaken by secret shudders and dark forebodings; but we know no way out, and very few persons indeed draw the conclusion that this time the issue is the long-since-forgotten soul of man.”
When we realize an archetype such as the daemonic, we are able, from the inside out, to channel its transpersonal power into a creative, soul-full, life-giving spirit that comes from a source beyond our ego. Encoded in the daemonic is everything we need for our healing and self-realization, as if the daemonic is a compensation of the deeper unified and unifying field of consciousness, offering us exactly what is required for us to wake up. The demons are like psychic nautilus machines that we are dreaming up to help us develop our muscles of realization. Alchemically transmuting on the spot the potential destructiveness of the demonic into stimulators of our own creative lucidity, we give birth to our daemon, our guiding spirit. Or rather, in that moment our daemon gives birth to us.
Realizing an archetype such as the daemonic is to realize ourselves as an active, participatory agent in the creation of our experience of ourselves relative to the world. This realization comes with great responsibility. We are offered a choice: either we continue to destroy ourselves, or we learn together how to create a new world. Everything depends upon our recognizing what is being revealed to us as we act our unconscious out in the world. The emergence of the daemonic in our world is both potentially and actually the doorway into and revelation of the light. Being a function of our consciousness, how the daemonic materializes – as the deepest, destructive evil, or as creative genius, depends upon nothing other than how we dream it. Jung comments, “The archetype is spirit or anti-spirit: what it ultimately proves to be depends on the attitude of the human mind.”
When we become possessed by the unconscious, we become unconsciously taken over by our primal, animal-like instincts in such a way that we regress, devolve and fall into our lower nature. Jung elaborates, “Only the animal man can be possessed…It is easier to talk or to argue with a dog or a cow than with someone possessed by such a figure. For nothing that one says permeates, it is impossible to pierce the wall they put up, it is a wall of unconscious beliefs, and people behind the wall cannot be reached. They are totally inaccessible. There is no access because the human being is degraded to the state of an animal, and the thing that seems to function is not a divine being, it is a ghost.” I imagine we all know people like this, people who are under a spell such that there is really no talking with them, as they perversely take in and interpret whatever reflection is being offered of their unconsciousness as evidence of the rightness of their deluded point of view. Psychologically speaking, they are possessed, as if an “entity” has taken them over, they are no longer there, and they have no idea, literally, of their situation. When a group of people in this condition enter into agreement about the “truth,” and become card-carrying members of a dogmatic “ism,” a collective psychosis is being brewed in the cauldron of the collective unconscious.
Jung never tired of warning that the greatest danger that faces humanity is to unwittingly fall into our unconscious en masse such that we become instruments for a psychic epidemic to wreak havoc in the world, just like we see today (please see my article, “Diagnosis: Psychic Epidemic”). Jung writes that psychic epidemics “…are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes. The supreme danger which threatens individuals as well as whole nations is a psychic danger.” We are in the midst of a collective psychosis that has become so normalized that very few people are even talking about it, which is itself an expression of our collective madness. (please see my article, “Why Don’t We See our Collective Madness”?) Jung writes, “…collective psychoses are based on a constellated archetype, though of course this fact is not taken into account at all. In this respect our attitude is still characterized by a prodigious unconsciousness.”
Once these archetypal contents become activated in the unconscious, Jung elaborates, it is like “they have taken possession of certain individuals, irresistibly draw them together by mutual attraction and knit them into smaller or larger groups which may easily swell into an avalanche.” People who have fallen into their unconscious naturally attract and connect with each other, as they reciprocally reinforce each others’ madness. An impenetrable bubble of shared, rigid beliefs gets conjured up around them which deflects and resists any self-reflection which threatens their fixed worldview. Anyone who reflects back their unconscious state is demonized and seen as a heretic, blasphemer and enemy.
Though using individuals as its instruments, evil needs the unconscious masses for its genesis and proliferation on the world stage. Masses are always breeding grounds of psychic epidemics. In a collective psychosis there is a herd mentality, where people stop thinking for themselves and let others think for them, like sheep (“sheeple”) who just follow wherever they are being led. Jung writes that whoever buys into the collectively agreed upon group-think “is infected with the leprosy of collective thinking and has become an inmate of that insalubrious stud-farm called the totalitarian State.” When we give away our power, there is always someone bearing the authority of the State who is more than happy to accept our offering, feeding the insatiable will-to-power of the shadow. Jung comments, “The shepherd’s staff soon becomes a rod of iron, and the shepherds turn into wolves.” Being archetypal, the reciprocal process of people giving away their power to others who abuse it simply because they can has continually re-created itself all throughout history.
Jung warns us that “The most dangerous things in the world are immense accumulations of human beings who are manipulated by only a few heads.” In a collective psychosis, the many are manipulated by the few who are attracted to holding power over others. Jung points out that, “Whoever prefers power, is therefore, in the Christian view, possessed by the devil. The psychologist can only agree.” In a psychic epidemic, the masses, led and inspired by the few who are perversely possessed by and addicted to the need for power, collectively collude with, support and mutually rein-force each others’ irrational beliefs, narcissistic needs, and fears, creating a culture crazy beyond belief. This culture, or lack thereof, is simultaneously the cause and effect of their madness, as they collectively incarnate a living, self-fulfilling prophecy. They become the instruments through which the NLD, the nonlocal demon, reproduces itself, like a multi-headed hydra, in, as, and through the field.
BLESSINGS IN DRAG
Jung writes, “This state of possession shows itself almost without exception in the fact that the possessed identify themselves with the archetypal contents of their unconscious, and because they do not realize that the role which is being thrust upon them is the effect of new contents still to be understood, they exemplify these concretely in their own lives, thus becoming prophets and reformers [in the negative sense, such as falling into a megalomaniacal inflation]” People who have been swallowed up by the archetype and fallen into the unconscious, instead of shedding light on and integrating the meaning of the activated unconscious contents within themselves, are unwittingly acting out the mythic, symbolic dimension of “the role which is being thrust upon them” in concretized, literal form on the stage of life. The new contents are understood when we realize that the role which is coming through us has its origin in the collective unconscious itself, as if we are playing a role in a cosmic drama. In addition to bestowing upon us a choice of how we want to play this role, this realization snaps us out of personally identifying with the role as well. The part of us that has been unconsciously possessed becomes liberated, creating more consciousness in the process.
When we become taken over by the unconscious, to quote Jung, “…the unconscious in large measure ousts and supplants the function of the conscious mind. The unconscious usurps the reality function and substitutes its own reality. Unconscious thoughts…manifest themselves in senseless, unshakable judgments upheld in the face of reality.” When we find ourselves ignoring factual evidence and holding a “magical” belief that we rationally know not to be true, we are under a spell, being “driven” by the unconscious, which is at that point in the driver’s seat. The psychic factors which make possession possible are suggestibility, lack of critical discernment, unwillingness or inability to self-reflect, fearfulness, propensity to superstition and prejudice. The contents that take us over when we are possessed by the unconscious appear as phobias, exaggerated affects, peculiar convictions, idiosyncrasies, stubborn plans, compulsions and obsessions, all of which are not open for discussion or correction.
Demons work through our psyche, “managing our perceptions” in a way such that we aren’t able to see their influence. Demons bedazzle, bewitch, and bedevil consciousness in such a way that we become blind to our own underlying, assumed viewpoint. We fall under their spell when we become entranced by our own version of reality in such a way so as to think the world “objectively” exists as we perceive it, separate from our own mind. In other words, we fall under the power of the demons when we become fixated in our non-negotiable viewpoint and imagine that what we are seeing objectively exists, in solid form, outside of ourselves, in a way that applies to everyone. We then draw to ourselves all the evidence we need to prove to ourselves the seeming truth of our self-evident viewpoint, confirming our delusion that we are separate from and not participating in helping to create the very situation we find ourselves in, which we are ultimately creating. I call this “Aparticipatory Delusional Syndrome,” or ADS for short (please see my article “Delusions of Separation”).
On the other hand, we break the spell of the demons when we realize that every moment of our experience is inseparable from our own consciousness, which is to recognize the fluid, non-objective and thus, “dreamlike nature” of reality. Just like figures in a dream, the demons are, ultimately speaking, our own energy, not separate from our own mind (please see my article “God the Imagination”). Just like a dream, the way we observe the world literally evokes the very world we are observing. This means that it is through our awareness itself that we can intervene in the underlying matrix of creation and find the leverage point where we can change the waking dream we are having, which is “evolution-in-action.” Interestingly, we wouldn’t have woken up and had this realization without the antagonistic co-operation of the demons, which is to say the demons are secretly allies in disguise, catalysts of consciousness appearing as adversaries, blessings in drag (please see my article “The Light of Darkness”).
NOT THE ONLY ONE
Jung writes, “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate.” To the extent that we are not consciously working on integrating, via the process of individuation, the unconscious contents and conflicts that are activated within us, is the extent to which these psychic contents will manifest externally and be unconsciously acted out collectively in a literal, concrete way on the world stage. Jung comments, “One shouldn’t evade this conflict by escaping into a premature and anticipated state of redemption, otherwise one provokes it in the outside world. And that is of the devil.” An activated psychic content not realized consciously in the course of individuation manifests externally, where it gets “dreamed up” in, as, and through the outer world. To use Jung’s metaphor, the sponsor of this project(ion) is “the devil.”
Jung says, “The world powers that rule over all mankind, for good or ill, are unconscious psychic factors…We are steeped in a world that was created by our own psyche.” This brings to mind various quotes in the Bible about “powers and principalities” that rule over humanity, which is the metaphysically equivalent expression of our psychological situation. The Gospel of Luke, for example, has the devil say that the kingdoms of the world are under his control (4:5-6). The Gospel of John speaks of the devil as “the ruler of the world.” (14:30, 16:11). The First Letter of John says that “the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.” (5:19). Paul speaks of Satan as “the god of this world.” (Gal. 1:4; Cor. 4:4). Whether we call it a demon or an unconscious psychic factor, the force that rules over us is created by and an expression of our own psyche.
Reflecting upon the first World War, Jung says, “When fate, for four whole years, played out a war of monumental frightfulness on the stage of Europe – a war that nobody wanted – nobody dreamed of asking exactly who or what had caused the war and its continuation.” Similarly, in today’s “war on terror,” a war that nobody, or at least very few people want, we need to dream of asking exactly who or what has caused this war and its continuation. Jung continues, “Nobody realized that European man was possessed by something that robbed him of all free will. And this state of unconscious possession will continue undeterred until we Europeans become scared of our ‘god-almightiness’ [inflation]. Such a change can begin only with individuals, for the masses are blind brutes, as we know to our cost.” The real carrier of life is the individual. Real transformation doesn’t come through mass movements, or new legislation, but via change within the individual.
Speaking about the effects of being identified with, possessed and inflated by the unconscious, Jung writes, “Everything that exceeds a certain human size evokes equally inhuman powers in man’s unconscious. Totalitarian demons are called forth.” As a result of becoming overly one-sided in a multi-sided universe, “totalitarian demons” are “dreamed up” both within the unconscious, and, synchronistically, out in the world. Events in the outer world are symbolic reflections of what we are dreaming inside of ourselves (please see my article “Catching the Bug of Synchronicity”). What this means is that the most effective way to change the world is to change ourselves.
Jung writes, “…the historic events of our time have painted a picture of man’s psychic reality in indelible colors of blood and fire, and given him an object lesson which he will never be able to forget if – and this is the great question – he has today acquired enough consciousness to keep up with the furious pace of the devil within him.” Will we, each one of us, be able to mediate, channel and transform the archetypal, daemonic energy which is flowing through us into creativity such that we can constructively build a new world? This is the question upon whose answer rests the future survival or destruction of the world as we know it.
Jung says, “mankind, because of its scientific and technological development, has in increasing measure delivered itself over to the danger of possession…Man’s worst sin is unconsciousness…When shall we…in all seriousness seek ways and means to exorcize him, to rescue him from possession and unconsciousness, and make this the most vital task of civilization?” When shall we make “the most vital task of civilization” the exorcism of the demons that are possessing us? In other words, when shall we make our most vital task “waking up?”
Jung saw this present-day manifestation of the daemonic as an archetypal expression of the potentially catastrophic upheavals that accompany the great transitions from one age to the next. When an archetype like the daemonic appears, both within ourselves and out in the world, things become critical, with possibilities for both good and evil alike. How things actually turn out depends upon how consciousness responds to the situation. During a collective manifestation of the daemonic, such as we have today, the great danger is a mass movement where millions, or even billions of people fall into their unconscious together, igniting a psychic epidemic which spawns an apocalyptic war that ravages life on earth and destroys the biosphere of the planet (see my article “Archetypal Dimensions of World Events”). To quote Jung, “The unconscious works sometimes with most amazing cunning, arranging certain fatal situations, fatal experiences, which make people wake up.” Catastrophe can only be avoided if enough people wake up to what is being revealed to us as we act out the unconscious, and then connect with each other so as to de-activate, assimilate, and transform the potentially deleterious effects of the activated daemon. We can then, under the guidance of the Self, our intrinsic wholeness, help each other to usher in a new era of sustainable peace, understanding and mutual co-operation. Our very continued existence as a species on this beautiful planet depends upon this realization.
To be pessimistic and think that we can’t change the trajectory of our species’ suicidal, trance-like behavior is to be under a spell, to have fallen under a “demon’s curse.” Having fallen under such a spell, we only strengthen and solidify our spell-bound convict-ion by acting as if there are no other possible outcomes. Pessimism is food for the demons (please see my article “Our Situation is Dire, and There’s no Need for Pessimism”). It is crazy to not invest our creative energy into envisioning that we can “come together,” and just as crazy to imagine that we can’t. If we aren’t investing our creative imagination in ways for us to heal and wake up, then what are we thinking? Just like in a dream at night, when enough of us become lucid in the waking dream of life, we can connect with each other and put our lucidity together, changing the world in positive ways in the process (please see my article “Lucid Dreaming”).
If people tell me I am a “dreamer” when I profess these idealistic and seemingly naïve beliefs, I will simply say, to quote the late John Lennon, “I am not the only one.” There are ever-expanding numbers of us – millions? billions? — around the planet who in various ways are being drafted by the Self to be channels for a deeper process of awakening, enabling a vast range of entirely new and previously unimagined possibilities to become available to us. The universe is dreaming itself awake through us. When enough of us simply recognize the deeper, archetypal pattern that is happening, i.e., that the universe is waking itself up through us, we can “come together,” I “imagine,” and help each other to deepen and stabilize our mutually shared awakening, what I call “dreaming ourselves awake.” As wounded healers, shamans, dreamers, and artists whose canvas is life itself, we can collaboratively create an “Art-Happening Called Global Awakening.”
The real demon is our own ego-clinging. To the extent we are under the seeming influence of a demon is the extent to which we are clinging and grasping, trying to hold onto our concept of ourselves as a discrete and separate self, when in actuality there is nothing (no “thing”) to hold onto. To the extent we are clinging or grasping, we have fallen into the self-reinforcing, habitual pattern of contracting against ourselves, and in so doing we are blocking our own light. We can, in this very moment, step out of our own way and let our light shine.
Paul Levy is a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, he is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dream-like nature of reality. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis, which is available on his website. (See the first chapter, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis). Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at paul (at) awakeninthedream (dot) com; he looks forward to your reflections. © Copyright 2009