Jung and Symbolism

Carl Gustav Jung founded analytic psychology in response to the psychoanalysis of Freud. This differs from the Freudian model in downgrading the importance of sexuality and childhood conflicts in the treatment of neuroses, and concentrates more on a client's current conflicts.

Jung made the significant step of defining the unconscious of a person as comprised of both a personal (proceeding from the experiences of the individual) and a collective Unconscious (issuing from the inheirited structure of the brain, and common to humanity). This is important to esoteric study in that it goes some way towards explaining the power of the archetypal, symbolic systems like Colour, Numerology or the Tarot. Indeed, the concept of archtypes - potent universal symbols appearing in myths, fairytales and dreams - is an important part of Jung's concept of the unconscious.

Symbols are concerned with what is of greatest importance to humans: their own lives, their minds and emotions - which are the central focal points of those lives. Symbolism is deeply concerned with wholes, perceived by intuition, that is, whole patterns and whole sequences, and the interraction of the parts in context. It depicts the pattern of the psyche, the sequence of the cycle of life, and the interraction between the two. As well as playing a unique part in the order of things, the individual shares in a communal fate, the destiny of humans. Symbols articulate the relationship between the different parts of the individual psyche and the cosmos. Without such symbols the psyche and society tends to fragment. Each system of symbols arising from the human psyche is an expression of the very structure of that psyche, and thus are the best way of getting to know one's own mind, its latent energies, its conflicting forces, male and female, etc. "If psychology were taught through the literature... people already know (rather than special textbooks) it would be grasped far more readily by the ordinary individual" (Groddeck).

Within Aura-Soma colour is viewed, as by the Tibetans, as consciousness perceiving itself. It is independent of the senses and perceives light and colour independently. It is a direct experience - no separation between a thing and the experience of a thing. This is a very deep level of understanding of colour symbolically, regardless of cultural background. Because symbols express the human psyche, of which they are a product, and always refer back to the human predicament as it is, they can all be related to each other. In the same way colour has an understanding, regardless of race or creed eg BLUE relates to the great Mother: Mary, Kali, Derga (to the atheist it might be the blue sky). All relate to the same experience. It has something of the spiritual, eternal about it. RED relates to Mars, blood, danger, aggression, war, survival. It has something of the earthy, material about it. YELLOW relates to the Sun, to enlightenment. It has something of analysis about it. GREEN is related to the surface of the earth itself, to plant life. It has something of growth and regeneration about it.

Colour is an expression of the soul. The soul is not already formed. We must do something for ourselves to form it. We have to wake up, to have a spiritual awakening. It is like having the ingredients for a cake - but we have to make it. Life in its purest form is experienced as a unity: every twinkling star is part of the child's experience, it is only the intellect which separates the individual from the star by two thousand years. This tends to alientate us from our evironment, from our world. But symbolism, especially colour symbolism, re-estabilishes the contact on a grander scale that ever before. Through symbolism humans are in contact with a light which shone two thousand years ago, and many millions of miles away: such is the extent of our lives, of our everyday experience.

Recommended reading: Dictionary of Symbols & Dictionary of Sacred Myth; Tony Chetwynd, The Aquarian Press, 1982