The World Soul Needs Us

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826 – 1900 ), Niagara, 1857, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund) 2014.79.10

 

My practice tells me that I can no longer distinguish clearly between neurosis of self and neurosis of world, psychopathology of self and psychopathology of world. Moreover, it tells me that to place neurosis and psychopathology solely in personal reality is a delusional repression of what is actually, realistically, being experienced (James HillmanThe Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, page 93).

James Hillman’s statement, here, is very profound in light of our current world crises. The psychopathology of self was the focus of twentieth century depth psychology. This was needed to direct the gaze inward, to slow the practices of scientism and materialism that would have us ignore our inner states. Many great teachers arose that led us to better understanding of the soul, our neuroses, our suffering, and our inner beauty. The popularity of depth psychology and other holistic practices in the twentieth century initiated us into a “care of the soul,” as Thomas Moore called it, instead of just gazing out into a world composed of dead matter. Yes, we needed to be brought through that stage of our development in order that, in this century, we could confront the psychopathology of our world. We gazed inward for many years. Now, we must again gaze outward, recognizing that inward and outward are obsolete viewpoints, relics of a past state of consciousness.

If we are to deal with our world’s psychopathology, we must not remain in a state of subjectivity, where we pray, meditate, and seek only our own personal psychological development. The Anima Mundi needs our prayers, our meditations, our imaginations, for She too must develop and individuate.

We have lost the notion that our world is divine. This occurred because of the extreme slant toward the scientific method. We have split off the world from our consciousness. If we want our world to be healthy and to flourish, this must be rectified. One way to do this is for all of us to acknowledge the reality of the Anima Mundi, the World Soul. This includes acknowledging that matter is alive and full of energy. I’m not just referring to atomic energy, but the kind of energy that atomic energy shadows. We have mostly only seen the destructive force of matter’s energy, atomic weapons and atomic meltdowns, but there is a more profound energy that permeates every particle of matter in our universe. Every particle is divine, and is designed to work together with all others, and with human consciousness. Dichotomized human thinking has only split the particles, but what would occur if we learned how to bring them together with our own consciousness? 

There are energies, sparks of divinity, in all material phenomena. Alchemists know that the inner transformative process, which Jung called individuation, reveals the hidden energy within matter. We have concentrated on the inner work that reveals matter’s divine light, but there is also an outer work we must do if this light energy is to be used to heal our world. The great physician, Paracelsus tells us,

That of which we now tell is called lumen naturae and is eternal. God hath given it to the inner body, that it may be ruled by the inner body and in accordance with reason. Therefore all that Man does and should do, should be done from the light of nature. For the light of nature is reason and nothing else (This translation was partly based on the translation in C.G. Jung, On the nature of the psyche, Coll. Works, vol. IX, paragraph 390).

Paracelsus refers to the light of Nature as “reason,” but, according to Jungian analyst, Jolande Jacobi, he means

Intuitive knowledge gained by the experience of nature and implicit in all beings at their birth, in contrast to the knowledge given by revelation [i.e., the light of the Holy Ghost]…In a cosmological sense, it is a secret radiation of nature and makes possible the discovery of the natural mysteries ( (Paracelsus: selected writings, edited with an introduction by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Bollingen Series XXVII, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 289 pp (hereafter called Jacobi, Paracelsus). This quote is from page 255). 

The first step in healing our world, then, is recognizing that our soul’s path is not simply about improving ourselves, but our world, as well. Healing our world is why we need a developed soul. Then, recognize that all matter is divine and contains enormous energy. There is destructive energy, yes, but there is also a constructive energy, which we have not yet tapped. Alchemists, including all the great teachers from previous centuries, have only scratched the surface in releasing it. Now, at this critical juncture, Nature needs our help.

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