Love Is Not All There Is


There is a curious tradition in ancient Greek art which shows Eros, the God of love and Pan, the God of nature and sexuality, engaged in a wrestling match. What possible reason would the Greeks have for portraying these two gods battling against each other in this manner? One reason could be that the rise of Christianity, a religion of love, wanted to permanently stamp out Pan, the passionately sexual god of nature. James Hillman comments:

The contrast between the clean stripling Eros and the hirsute awkwardness of rustic paunchy Pan, with victory to Eros, was moralized to show the betterment of love to sex, renement to rape, feeling to passion. Moreover, the victory of Eros over Pan could be philosophically allegorized to mean Love conquers All (Hillman lv).

What other characteristics does Pan possess? He brings panic. So, we see love and fear in opposition. Christianity loves to moralize about most everything, but this is not, according to Hillman, simply “love overcoming fear.” Whomever is victorious in this match does not matter in the least. The Greeks were not attempting to show the superiority of love over sex (and everything that Pan represents). This is not a match of morals, but a myth concerning how Eros and Pan are in contention.

Pan’s wild and raunchy ways are not a display of love. Love is not present in his raping and chasing nymphs. Love is not present when he brings panic to all creatures, as his deafening shout is reverberating through the countryside. Referring to the characteristics of Pan, Hillman says, “When judged from love’s perspective, they become pathological” (Hillman lv). This is why Christianity has such a problem with sex. It cannot reconcile it with love.

In the view of archetypal psychology, love is only one god among many. It is not, as John Lennon sang, “all there is.” There are many gods that make up the soul. There are many instinctual factors within us that Eros does not cover. Eros certainly does not rule over those natural instincts that fall under the rubric of Pan. Again, Hillman comments:

To go on judging our Pan-behavior in the light of love continues a suppression of instinctual qualities and an enmity toward nature that cannot but have psychopathological results. The struggle between Eros and Pan, and Eros’ victory, continue to put Pan down each time we say that rape is lower than relatedness, masturbation inferior to intercourse, love better than fear, the goat uglier than the hare (Hillman lv).

Now, remember, we are thinking and speaking imaginally here. We are in the Land of Soul. Literalism plays no part.

Hillman goes on to argue very convincingly that, since Pan and the nymphs are really of one nature, this corrects the erroneous Christian view that Pan is strictly about “unbridled pagan sexuality.” He claims, “if the nymphs and Pan are one, no prohibition is necessary. An inhibition is already present in the compulsion itself. Thus, sexual passion is both holy and one aspect of reflection” (Hillman lvi).

Works Cited

Hillman, James. An Essay On Pan. Pan and the Nightmare. By Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher. Trans. A.V. O’Brien, M.D.  New York: Spring, 1972. i-lix.

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Pan and Philemon

In his essay, Alchemy and the Subtle Body of Metaphor, psychologist, Robert D. Romanyshyn, makes the argument that soul is neither mental nor physical, but is “another country, as different from mind as it is from matter” (Romanyshyn 24). It is from this country that Philemon, one of Jung’s imaginal guides, originates. One of the questions Romanyshyn asks is whether Philemon is a projection of Jung’s psyche? The answer is no because Philemon “is neither a factual object in the world (like those stones or those birds can be), nor a subjective idea in Jung’s mind” ( 29). This is the nature of the region of the middle third between spirit and matter. He concludes that “Philemon…is the subtle body of metaphor” (Romanyshyn 29). He is not himself a metaphor, but

that kind of presence which a metaphor brings, a figural presence whose texture is neither that of fact nor idea, and a presence which requires of us that delight in and attunement to the play of language and experience (Romanyshyn 30).

Philemon is an autochthonous being, meaning that he originated from the landscape in which he was found to be, i.e. the province of the soul. He is an indigenous inhabitant of what Henry Corbin called, the mundus imaginalis.  It is also the origin of all synchronistic events. Romanyshyn goes on to say,

Philemon and his kin rise up out of that void between matter and mind, and in ghostly form, like a mist, announce their presence (Romanyshyn 30).

The consciousness created by embracing the “void between matter and mind” is one that is tuned to the synchronistic field, and it is experienced on a regular basis. It was Jung’s genius, after spending long hours studying alchemy, that restored the principle of synchronicity to the world, after it had been relegated to the scrapyard of history for so long (von Franz 210-211).

Now, we return to Pan. Remember, in the previous article, I attempted to show Hillman’s idea of a connection between Pan and synchronicity. Philemon, like Pan, is an indigenous inhabitant of the world of the middle third, the mundus imaginalis, except that Pan is a god of a higher order. Perhaps Philemon is an agent of Pan. Philemon helped Jung connect his ‘in-here’ with his ‘out-there,’ which is exactly what synchronicity does. Pan is the god of nature, both ‘in-here’ and ‘out-there.’ Hillman says, “it is as if Pan is the answer to the Apollonic question about self-knowledge.” He continues:

What is this awareness and how is it achieved? We have seen all along that Pan is God of both nature ‘in here’ and nature ‘out there‘. As such Pan is the bridging configuration who keeps these reflections from falling into disconnected halves where they become the dilemma of a nature without soul and a soul without nature, objective matter out there and subjective mental processes in here. Pan, and the nymphs, keep nature and psyche together” (Hillman lx).

Now, Pan is not the only archetype, but he is a very important one because he is the god of raw sexuality. We know how much importance Freud attached to sexuality in his theories. It may not be the only issue, but the ubiquitous presence of Pan implies that it is crucial to come to terms with it in the pursuit of self-knowledge.

Pay particular attention to any synchronicities that are of a sexual nature. Pan, like Philemon, may be wanting to bestow upon you greater self-knowledge.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. An Essay On Pan. Pan and the Nightmare. By Wilhelm
Heinrich Roscher. Trans. A.V. O’Brien, M.D. New York: Spring, 1972.

Romanyshyn, Robert. Alchemy and the Subtle Body of Metaphor. Pathways into the Jungian World
          Phenomenology and Analytical Psychology. Ed. Roger Brooke. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Von Franz, Marie-Louise. Psyche and Matter. Boston: Shambhala, 1992. 

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Pan and Synchronicity

Satyr Frolicking with Nymphs, painted by Claude Lorrain (public domain
Satyr Frolicking with Nymphs, painted by Claude Lorrain (public domain
In the mythology of Pan, high noon seems to the very best time of day. It was usually at noon that Pan suddenly appeared, causing great panic and terror among whoever was present at the time. Midday, when the sun was at its zenith, a fearful panic would ensue. Noon is one of two liminal times of the day, the other being midnight. These times are almost paradoxical moments, noon being both the height of the sun’s ascent and the beginning of its descent. As Jung writes,

The sun falls into contradiction with itself. It is as though it should draw in its rays instead of emitting them. Light and warmth decline and are at last extinguished” (Modern Man 109).

It is also interesting that at noon, no shadows are possible, since the sun is directly overhead. For just a moment, time seems to stand still. It is at this very special moment when the veil of normalcy is torn asunder and Pan manifests himself, in all his mischievous splendor. Hillman writes,

This is the unrelatedness of Pan, and of the spontaneous aspect of nature. It simply is as it is, at where it is at; not the result of events, not with an eye to their outcome; headlong, heedless, brutal and direct, whether in terror or desire. This is what is meant by the spontaneity of instinct – all life at the moment of propagation or all death in the panic of the herd (Hillman lvi-lvii).

The archetype of Pan may be the governing principle behind spontaneous occurrences. Hillman says that by connecting Pan to spontaneity, we may “understand more psychologically the tradition of difficulty in comprehending and conceiving such events” (ibid.). Furthermore, these seemingly incomprehensible events may also be connected to the idea of synchronicity. Jung believed that synchronicity was equal to space, time, and causality, and “he found that synchronistic events happen mainly when instinctual (emotional, archetypal, symbolic) levels of the psyche are engaged” (ibid.). Pan encompasses very powerful natural instincts, as has been shown in previous articles. Hillman goes on to say that the Pan archetype cannot illuminate all synchronistic events, but does shed light on those of a sexual nature, when a fearful panic is present, or those that occur at noontime, Pan’s favorite moment of the day for causing mischief. These are the archetypal motifs of Pan.

The main point Hillman is driving at with connecting the goat-god with synchronicity is that Pan “connects nature ‘in here’ with nature ‘out there” (ibid.). This is also what synchronicity accomplishes. According to Jung,

Synchronicity therefore means the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary sub­jective state-and, in certain cases, vice versa” (Synchronicity 25).

So, synchronicity originates in the region of the middle third, the imaginal realm, the metaxy, the place of soul. We have seen in prior articles that the Pan archetype, with its twin nuclei of Pan and Nymphs, is raw sexuality/fleeing fear and meekness, very important human instincts that, when transformed, bring about a state of reflection. Synchronistic events also bring about reflection. Hillman is definitely on to something important here.

My next article will connect these themes to some comments made by Robert Romanyshyn, in the essay I quoted yesterday, Alchemy and the Subtle Body of Metaphor. There are some very interesting parallels therein.

Works Cited

Jung, C.G. Modern Man In Search of a Soul. Trans. Cary F. Baynes and W.S. Dell. New York:
          Harcourt, 1933.

Jung, C.G. Synchronicity. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. New York: Princeton, 1960.    

Hillman, James. An Essay On Pan. Pan and the Nightmare. By Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher. Trans. A.V. O’Brien, M.D. New York: Spring, 1972. i-lix.

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Animaterialism Modified

I would like to modify, somewhat, what I have written concerning animaterialism. After reading a passage from Jung, and examining the situation alchemically, I began to rethink my position on the subject. Here is what Jungs says:

it always remains an obscure point whether the ultimate transformations in the alchemical process ought to be sought more in the material or more in the spiritual realm. Actually, however, the question is wrongly put: there was no “either-or” for that age, but there did exist an intermediate realm between mind and matter, i.e., a psychic realm of subtle bodies whose characteristic it is to manifest themselves in mental as well as material form. This is the only view that makes sense of alchemical ways of thought, which must otherwise appear nonsensical (Jung 278-279).

I think he is correct in this regard. The name I gave to reality, animaterialism, leans too much to the side of soul and matter, when soul is actually a third between spirit and matter. The conjunction of spirit and matter is soul. If soul is removed, one ends up with the world as viewed by Descartes, a mind-matter duality. Soul is an “imperceptible smoke,” (ibid.: 278n ) that is neither matter nor spirit. According to Robert Romanyshyn, the Cartesian split created an

eclipse of the imaginal as a third between matter and mind, with a de-animation of the flesh which transforms the vital, gestural body into a mechanism, and with a broken connection between the ensouled sensuous body and the sense-able world (Romanyshyn 35).

I like the term animaterialism, but I wonder if it is still feasible, seeing there is no idea of spirit in the mix? Have I been caught in a dualistic trap by overemphasizing soul and matter at the expense of spirit? I was trying to unify my views in one monistic reality. My vision was to view reality as essentially one “substance,” i.e. animatter. After checking the etymology of the word, anima, I believe there is an element of spirit included therein. The root of the word includes the idea of air, wind, and breath, which definitely corresponds to the idea of spirit. So, the word may be appropriate after all, just not in the sense I was using it before.

Romanyshyn states that the “central issue for alchemy” is “the tension of spirit and matter” (Romanyshyn 33).

Alchemy…is a kind of consciousness which holds this tension and in holding it the subtle body of the third, the soul, the realm of the imaginal, which is neither that of spirit, consciousness, mind, nor matter, nature, body is born (ibid.).

So, I may use the term, animaterialism, at times, but it will be in this sense: that for it to be meaningful and true, my thesis must include the tension between mind and matter, that, in turn, gives birth to the “middle third,” soul. This is an alchemically true definition of the word.

Jung, C.G. Psychology and Alchemy. Trans. by R.F.C. Hull. London: Routledge, 1953.

Romanyshyn, Robert. Alchemy and the Subtle Body of Metaphor. Pathways into the Jungian World
          Phenomenology and Analytical Psychology. Ed. Roger Brooke. New York: Routledge, 2000.

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Pan and the Nymphs Unite

Pan and Selene, by Hans von Aachen (1552–1615)

There is no access to the mind of nature without connection to to the natural mind of the nymph (Hillman lii).

In Greek mythology, the Nymphs are beautiful and nubile female nature deities who rule over a variety of natural phenomena. They are “personifications of the wisps and clouds of mist clinging to valleys, mountain-sides and water-sources, veiling the waters and dancing over them” (Hillman xlvi).

Pan spends much of his time frolicking and cavorting with the meek Nymphs. Sometimes, they fly into a panic while being chased by the randy god.

One of the most fascinating ideas in Hillman’s essay is that the twin nuclei of sexuality and panic, desire and anxiety, both abide in the Pan archetype. One can say that Pan and the Nymphs are images of these nuclei. Pan is unbridled sexuality, but is also the anxious fear and panic experienced by the Nymphs when being pursued. Pan and the Nymphs are twin images of the same archetypal god. Hillman says,

Both anxiety and sexuality are words covering an immensely sophisticated range of experiences. Furthermore, these words cover experiences that are neither only actions or reactions, but are also metaphors for situations of consciousness governed by archetypal fantasies. In fact, the actions and reactions are themselves part of a metaphorical pattern and are meaningful within that pattern, expressing something always more sensuously qualified than what is covered by the definitions of anxiety and sexuality. One of these metaphorical patterns is provided by Pan. By placing anxiety, fear or panic against that background, we may not solve the dubious, if not nonsensical, ‘what is fear? ’, but we may gain insight into kinds of experience for which we use that word and thus make more precise the intentionality of fear (Hillman xxx).

This is why an attempt should not be made to eradicate fear from human consciousness. It is natural. We can gain awareness by experiencing it and allowing it to transform itself into reflection. According to Jung, there is a process that certain natural instincts undergo that actually transforms them into what he calls the “reflective instinct:”

Reflexio means ‘bending back’ and, used psycho­logically, would denote the fact that the reflex which carries the stimulus over into its instinctive discharge is interfered with by psychization. Owing to this interference, the psychic processes exert an attraction on the impulse to act excited by the stimulus. Therefore, before having discharged itself into the external world, the impulse is deflected into an endopsychic activity. Reflexio is a turning inwards, with the result that, instead of an instinctive action, there ensues a succession of derivative contents or states which may be termed reflection or delibera­tion. Thus in place of the compulsive act there appears a certain degree of freedom, and in place of predictability a relative un­predictability as to the effect of the impulse.

The richness of the human psyche and its essential character are probably determined by this reflective instinct. Reflection re-enacts the process of excitation and carries the stimulus over into a series of images which, if the impetus is strong enough, are reproduced in some form of expression. This may take place directly, for instance in speech, or may appear in the form of abstract thought, dramatic representation, or ethical conduct; or again, in a scientific achievement or a work of art (Jung 117).

Thus, Pan, following his natural instinct for raw sexual fulfillment, strikes terror into the hearts of the Nymphs, and they flee. Hillman says that “flight is essential to nymphic behavior” (Hillman liii). But, the flight instinct bends back upon itself and is transformed, paradoxically, into a reflective instinct. 

Where the Nymphs are present, Pan is there. Where Pan is present, the Nymphs are there. They go hand-in-hand. According to Hillman, “We cannot be touched by Pan without at the same to time fleeing from him and reflecting upon him” (Hillman lii). The fear and panic brought by Pan is actually the root of reflection. This may be the primary reason why Pan is said to be God of all. The archetype brings about all human reflection, which results in all human culture, art, and creativity in general.

Hillman delves into alchemy in an attempt to explain Pan’s full intention. In order to seduce the beautiful Selene, Goddess of the Moon, he hides his black and hairy parts with white fleece, which symbolizes a

movement into the albedo of lunar consciousness. What is resistant to light, obscure and driven, suffering nature in ignorance, turns white and reflective, able to see what is going on in the night. The white fleece does not halt Pan in the course of his conquest. The whitening is not an askesis of the goat. It is not that Pan now knows and so does not act out, but the action, by becoming white, turns reflective and thus the connection with Selene ( selas = light like that of a torch shining in the night) has been made possible. Like cures like: Pan, by becoming like Selene is already connected with her (Hillman xlviii).

Pan seeks self-awareness, so he desires to become like Selene, i.e. reflective. The archetype of Pan is complete. The raunchy sexuality of the goat-god, along with the meekness of the Nymphs, alchemically creates a very powerful reflective instinct and desire for self-consciousness.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. An Essay On Pan. Pan and the Nightmare. By Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher. Trans. A.V. O’Brien, M.D.  New York: Spring, 1972. i-lix.

Jung, C.G. The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. Trans. by R.F.C. Hull. London: Routledge, 1960.

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