Mass Movement

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Two Brothers, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1921

 

The value and importance of the individual are rapidly decreasing and the chances of his being heard will vanish more and more.

This process of deterioration will be long and painful, but I fear it is inevitable. Yet in the long run it will prove to be the only way by which man’s lamentable unconsciousness, his childishness and individual weakness, can be replaced by a future man, that knows that he himself is the maker of his fate and that the State is his servant and not his master (Jung 4).

In this passage, Carl Jung is describing the state of things before, during, and after the beginning of World Wars I and II. This long process of decay is still ongoing, which is very troubling to me, for I fear for the future of my children and grandson. My generation has continued to deny goodness and love for their fellow humans, but there is arising a people who see the world in a different light. The hope of my generation is with them.

Jung says the first World War “released the hidden power of evil” (Jung 5) into the world. Prior to 1914, intellectuals believed the evils of war had been overcome after the Enlightenment, that we were rational beings who had learned more logical and reasonable ways of living. According to Jung, however, this war was “released by the accumulation of unconscious masses and their blind desires” (ibid.). 

In the years prior to 1914, the conscious mind of mankind became severed from what Jung calls “the natural laws of human existence” (ibid.). With the rise of capitalism, the masses became dehumanized slaves of industrialization. To live and work, they were herded together into large urban areas, and paid less than living wages, allowing the fruits of their labors to flow into the hands of rich elites. In the 1920’s, so-called “public relations,” which consisted of depth psychology converted into slick advertising to deceive the masses into spending what little they did earn on products they didn’t need. Lies, deception, and dehumanization led Westerners to discard the inner life of imagination, emotion, contemplation, otherwise known as the things of the soul. They centered their lives so much on materialism and capitalism, they were unaware of the pressures building within their unconscious minds. For the German people, and the world, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, this would be cataclysmic. They had no knowledge of how to integrate the awful eruption when it did flood their consciousness. The old ways of the soul were gone, superseded by scientism and capitalism. These left the soul of Western humanity destitute. Nietzsche had declared God to be dead, so there was no help from religion. The West was thrown into a maelstrom of evil. The social processes that once mitigated the ravenous unconscious drives of power, greed, and destruction had been obliterated.

Things have changed little in our era. Greed, war, racism, and just general malevolence still rule the day. But there is a mass movement that is just beginning to arise. A group of younger citizens are speaking out against tyrannical forces that work night and day to keep our world enslaved. They are becoming more aware of mankind’s Shadow and desire to meet it head on. The dark nature of humanity will need to be integrated somehow. These younger ones have seen the evil and revolted against it. If this continues, there is great hope for our planet.

 

 

Works Cited

Jung, C.G. Essays on Contemporary Events, the Psychology of Nazism. trans. R.F.C.Hull. Princeton: Bollingen, 1954.

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America’s Wotan

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Odin´s throne with Huginn and Munnin, by Wolfgang Sauber

 

In 1936, C.G. Jung wrote a very important and very timely essay for that particular period of German history, simply called Wotan. At the end of World War I, Germany was left destitute after the Treaty of Versailles. Thousands were left unemployed, inflation was out of control, and people were starving. Germany was forced to pay reparations for the war, as well as hand over territories that contained important economic resources. Jung watched from Switzerland as these conditions brought about, in his estimation, a dark eruption of the German unconscious. The “ancient god of storm and frenzy, the long quiescent Wotan” awoke from his slumber. Jung likened it to the eruption of an extinct volcano that had lay dormant for millennia. There is no need to go into the ensuing dark details. We are well aware, if we have studied twentieth century history at all, what malevolence occurred.

In his essay, Jung calls Wotan

a restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic. He was soon changed by Christianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as a ghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ the wisp through the stormy night.

Wotan is really the Germanic Hermes, but more his darker nature. Hermes is the wanderer, the traveler between worlds, flitting back and forth “through the stormy night,” leading souls from the Upper World to the Underworld. Hermes is a trickster, whether in male or female form. Hermes is a thief and and a cunning liar, even able to fool the great Zeus. We see another skillful deceiver in our culture right now that is just as cunning, and exemplifies Hermes’ trickery to a tee. She is one who continually toys with the truth. She is as sly as a serpent, and is never punished.

Jung mentions in his essay that

The Romans identified Wotan with Mercury, but his character does not really correspond to any Roman or Greek god, although there are certain resemblances. He is a wanderer like Mercury, for instance, he rules over the dead like Pluto and Kronos, and is connected with Dionysus by his emotional frenzy, particularly in its mantic aspect.

Mercury, of course, is the Roman Hermes. Jung interprets Wotan/Hermes as an Ergreifer, one who seizes or possesses. Ergriffenheit is “the state of being seized or possessed.” Ergriffenheit was on full display during the Nazi regime. Millions of Germans were seized by the power of Wotan, according to Jung.

Even today, millions have been seized by an unexplained force, where masses follow politicians even though they have unabashedly lied and committed crimes. Is this the same kind of power that mesmerized the Germans in the 1930’s?

Currently, in America, there are phenomena occurring that may indicate that we are experiencing some degree of this state of possession, trickery, and the eruption of a brooding darkness. Can Hermes be making his presence known once again? Immediately, one would think to connect this idea to the alleged danger of Donald Trump, but I see a darker, even more malevolent force stirring within the chaotic maelstrom of American culture. It is possible there is even a concerted effort involved. One thing is certain, there is a volcanic fury that has just begun to erupt that could be devastating, unless it can be channeled in some way for the good of our society.

I have identified Hermes as what I call the World Daimon, and that Hermes and the World Soul are mirror images of one another. This is a macrocosmic notion based on a microcosmic relationship. As above, so below.

According to Henry Corbin, the human soul is individuated not through the union with a physical body (as in Aristotle) but by becoming a perfectly polished mirror of its angel in a strictly one-to-one relationship. We realize our virtual angelicity through a progressive illumination attained on earth; we are called, by right of our origin and if we consent, to an angelomorphosis (Robert Avens, The Subtle Realm: Corbin, Sufism, Swedenborg).

Following this idea, the World Soul and the World Daimon are images of each other. Also, both have their dark aspects, which we are beginning to experience right now. Just as a human being can be seized or possessed by a malevolent force, say in the case of a megalomaniacal personality, so too can the World Soul become seized or possessed. This has occurred many times throughout history, most recently during the dark days of the Third Reich.

In my estimation, the Anima Mundi is Aphrodite. I say this because, from the union of Hermes and Aphrodite emerged Hermaphrodite, the mythical androgyne who holds such an important place in ancient mythology, religion, and alchemy. It symbolizes the culmination of the magnum opus in alchemy, the creation of the lapis philosophorum. Jung claimed the crowned hermaphrodite symbolized the Self that has transcended ego-consciousness. It is the perfect symbol for the relationship of the Anima Mundi and the Daemon Mundi

I realize this sounds fantastic, but we are dealing with ancient psychological forces, not metaphysical entities off in some other realm. These forces are very real and dwell within the human psyche. We attempt to think of them imaginatively and mythologically.

As things continue to transpire, we can only wait and hope that the dark aspects of Hermes can be moderated in some way. Hopefully, the red tide of mass destruction can be quelled.

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