Archive for the 'Jung' Category

Sep 21 2013

Reflections on Death In June – Friday the 13th, San Francisco

(submitted to and published by The Listserve – this is the annotated version with one correction)

At what point do you become that which you are trying to eradicate?

stageThis past weekend (9/13), I attended a show by the controversial band Death In June. Douglas Pearce (the sole continuous member) has been accused of being a racist, a Nazi, a fascist, and worse. The fact that he is openly gay, has collaborated with a number of Jewish musicians, and has played sold out shows in Israel is beside the point. I have listened to his music for years. I consider myself on the left end of the political spectrum.  I’ve read any number of interviews and clarifications that Pearce has made about his views. I have a graduate degree in philosophy. I have participated in a number of civil rights demonstrations across the country. I can safely say that I find nothing fascist or hateful about him or his music. This is my conclusion. I stand by it.

Others only look at surface images of the band, and project their worst fears onto it. Those are their conclusions.  I have listened to their arguments, and read their cases. I remain unconvinced.

The show I attended was protested by a group identifying themselves as anti-fascists. They have a right to do this.  I respect this.

Rather than engaging us in dialogue, however, they became violent – openly harassing (an ethnically diverse!) group of people waiting politely in line for the show.  There were fists involved. They tried to storm the venue. It was their assumption that we were all waiting to attend the next Nuremberg rally, and that we were Nazis who needed to be stopped.

The anti-fascists wound up physically harming a number of minority members of the audience.  Additionally, they had vandalized the club where DIJ played the night before, and succeeded in threatening another venue to the point of cancelling a sold out show (which has since been relocated).


In 1920s-1930s Germany, the Nazi Party deployed a group known as the Sturmabteilung, or “brown shirts” to disrupt, threaten, intimidate, and physically harm political opponents.  How, qualitatively, were the actions of the anti-fascists different from the tactics of the Sturmabteilung? Tactics aside, how is it anti-fascist to declare yourselves the gatekeepers of what people can, cannot, should, and should not listen to?

In their quest for a villain, they became the villains. Rather than seeking common ground (of which, I suspect, there may have actually been much between them and the audience), they demonized us.

Additionally, they denied our humanity in an even more fundamentally important way –they denied us the choice, the chance to make up our own minds about what we were seeing and hearing. They failed to recognize our own abilities – our own rights – to recognize good and evil.

Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic-strip POGO, wrote in 1953, regarding the McCarthy hearings:

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly…There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

In Jungian psychology, there is a term for this – “owning one’s shadow.” I hope that someday, the 8 protesters (not 20, as they claim) look into this, and find resolution.

Then, perhaps, we can all move forward and fight real evil – together.

Oh yeah.  The show?  Simply amazing.




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Jul 15 2013

Meditations on Sol Niger, part II

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as a sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” – Revelation 6:12

Before we plunge into the darkness, it might be best to lay some groundwork, and mention a few key concepts, and how I will be approaching them. Some of this will seem wildly off-topic at first, but will eventually coagulate (to borrow a term), into what I hope will illustrate how I am approaching the Black Sun, and why I am approaching it the way I am.

First, we must begin with the alchemical dictum, “as above, so below.” Hermes Trismegistus tells us in the Emerald Tablet that “what is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing.” At first glance, this statement would appear rather simple. Yet, upon contemplation, one quickly begins to appreciate the statement’s finer complexities. It is unfortunate, for instance, that linguistic restrictions and conventions lock us into the directionality of only “above” and “below.” It becomes habit to equate “above” with “good” and “below” with “bad,” or at least, “not as good.” This is not helped by reading the Latin version of the Tablet, which uses “superius” for “above” and “inferius” for “below” (Edinger, 1994, p. 231).

One could attempt to interpret “as above, so below” holarchically, mapping it to a Wilber-style AQAL model, but I am not entirely convinced this would be sufficient. Despite Wilber’s best intentions, there is still qualification of some levels being more desirable than others by many people I have met in the Integral community. How Wilber and Integral Theory distorts and confuses “evolution” with “entelechy” is a conversation for elsewhere.

As I perceive it, “as above, so below” speaks to a fractal pattern, or perhaps more appropriately, a holographic model of reality.


The “Black Sun” of the Mandelbrot Set duplicates itself through “all” layers of reality, in many directions. Each pattern resonates all the way “down” as well as all the way “up.” As Above, so Below.


I will avoid a lengthy discussion of the holographic model of the universe (Bohm and Pribram) here, but do want to touch on a few key points. First, a hologram is created by interference patterns of light. These interference patterns are similar to what occurs when the ripples from two stones dropped into the same pond collide with each other.

Interference patterns such as these need not be generated only by light. Hans Jenny has done some incredible research into the construction of coherent form using sound waves. His work can be found by doing a simple web search for "Cymatics"

Interference patterns such as these need not be generated only by light. Hans Jenny has done some incredible research into the construction of coherent form using sound waves. His work can be found by doing a simple web search for “Cymatics”

An interesting and very applicable aspect of holograms is that if a hologram is destroyed, each piece of the hologram contains the information necessary to reconstruct the entire hologram. Much like the Mandelbrot sets, the information inherent in the hologram exists “above” and “below.” If reality is holographic in nature, as David Bohm, Karl Pribram, and others suggest, this presents us with a wide range of options. “This” universe we inhabit could be made of the holographic interference patterns of a certain spectrum of energies. Could there not be other spectra, as well?

To better understand this, let’s use the example of a DSL Internet connection. The idea behind DSL is that one’s copper telephone lines can actually support a number of bandwidths of energy, simultaneously. On the lower end of the bandwidth spectrum, is one’s voice signal. Copper can also conduct higher frequencies of energy at the same time, that will not interfere with the lower frequencies. Thus, one can continue to use one’s telephone lines for voice communications as well as high-speed Internet service, without having to sacrifice one for the other.

To illustrate this another way, on the freeway, there are several lanes of traffic, moving at various speeds. Yet (if all goes well), these lanes of traffic will never intersect with each other. They are all contained within the same freeway, however. Just as cars can switch lanes, I would suggest that it may be possible to tap into holographic realities created by spectra of energy that are not necessarily native to our normal “lane” of travel. Perhaps it is no different from an electron jumping from one shell to another, as it orbits a nucleus.

Just as the copper telephone wire is able to contain multiple bandwidths of energy (or the freeway, multiple lanes of traffic), perhaps there is an over-arching “omniverse” able to house different operating levels of reality based on different spectra of energy. Each “level” would contain the holographic information reflecting the reality of the omniverse.  It may be possible that it is through this sort of model that archetypes are able to operate. These other “realities” may also be those that are accessible to us in dreams, after death, through shamanic voyaging, etc., and are perhaps consistent with models put forth by the neo-Platonists, Ibn ‘Arabi, Kabbalists, multiple-universe theorists in physics, etc. This too, however, is bet left discussed elsewhere and elsewhen.

Before we set the controls for the heart of the Black Sun, I would like to address two of the archetypes (the Sun and the Moon), and our traditional ways of engaging them. Oftentimes, the terms “solar” and “lunar” are used to describe types of consciousness (or awareness). This is a dicey area, in that a strong case could be made that these are not archetypes at all, but rather animistic projections onto celestial bodies, originating with our primitive ancestors. Yet these archetypes and their associated forms of consciousness are a useful illustration for our discussion of the Black Sun.

I also find that one must exercise extreme caution when assigning gender roles to these archetypes, and to the types of consciousness they represent. While it may be popular in Jung, alchemy, and elsewhere to equate solar/male and lunar/female, I believe that if there are such things as “solar consciousness” and “lunar consciousness”, they are far more mysterious and interesting than simply “masculine” and “feminine.” Janet McCrickard, in her book Eclipse of the Sun: An Investigation into Sun and Moon Myths (1990), has written a fascinating refutation of the universality of the solar-masculine/lunar-feminine assignations, surveying traditions from around the world, where these gender roles are reversed. Interestingly, during her research, she encountered resistance not just from male academia, but from feminist and goddess-oriented groups as well. I believe her work is important, however. As she states,

To accept that the female Sun is a valid theme in the diversity of human religious thought, instead of rejecting her as a mistake, heresy, or irrelevance, has important consequences…in simple terms, the Sun Goddess by her mere occurrence challenges the rigidity of our spiritual thinking, disrupting those safe old categories by which we set such store, demanding that we pay up on our claims to be plural and holistic. In facing up to her, we thus expand our conception of what it means to be female, or male – or human (p. xxi).

I bring this up, because I will be discussing the Black Sun in terms of eclipse imagery. The eclipse and juxtaposition of solar and lunar consciousness is an event far more interesting when viewed without gender-political baggage. While there may be a precedent within alchemy to use the masculine-solar/feminine-lunar framework, I believe we can, to borrow a phrase, “transcend and include” these correlations. McCrickard’s chapter “The True Feminine” is particularly eye opening on the origins and dangers of the masculine-solar/feminine-lunar model. What happens if we look at solar and lunar consciousness through another lens?

The definition of solar and lunar consciousness that resonates the most with me, is the one provided by Christopher Bache, in his book Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps Toward a Deep Ecology of the Mind. It is his definition that I wish to embrace in my discussion of Sol Niger. Solar consciousness, per Bache, is the light of the daytime. It allows us to explore and understand the world around us, our immediate environment, and the external world. Lunar consciousness is the illuminated night, where we can see the true sky, and realize there are other worlds, other suns, and that we are not alone. There is mystery. If the sun invites us to explore the exterior world, the moon not only allows us to know there are other worlds “out there”, but “in here”, as well. Night brings sleep, and with it, dreams, and the ability to more directly experience the imaginal realms. As above, so below.


Bache, Christopher M. (2000). Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps Toward a Deep Ecology of the Mind. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Edinger, Edward F. (1994). Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy. Chicago: Open Court.

McCrickard, Janet. (1990). Eclipse of the Sun: An Investigation into Sun and Moon Myths. Glastonbury: Gothic Image Publications.

(to be continued)


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Jul 10 2013

Meditations on Sol Niger, part I

“…true philosophers make dying their profession and find it less alarming than others…” – Plato

sunA number of years ago, I found myself at the Albatross, a bar in Berkeley. A number of us had decided to enjoy a celebratory beer or three at the end of our classes for the quarter. One of my friends brought along her boyfriend, who was not a fellow student. With a “stranger” in our midst, conversation naturally shifted to what areas of Consciousness Studies and Dream Studies held each of our interests. After explaining my interest in survival of bodily death and Visitation Dreams, I was chided by the outsider in the group for focusing on “dark” things.

“If you focus on the darkness, you will never have abundance in your life.”

According to him, light was good, and beautiful. Darkness was bad, and to be avoided. The more I sat with this conversation, the more I became angered by it. To begin with, he and I seemed to have radically different definitions of “abundance.” He believed that I could have a house (or two), cars, money, and as many women as I could possibly want, simply by giving up the darkness, and “embracing the light.” Who knew it was that simple?

As for me, I’m not even sure that “abundance” (whatever that is), is the “goal.”

More importantly, however, I believe it is sometimes too easy to fall into the darkness=bad/light=good paradigm, and to avoid the things that make us uncomfortable.

I have been accused of being “dark” most of my life. Yet, if one knows me well, they will know that ultimately I am an optimist – a frustrated optimist.

It is perhaps natural that as I studied alchemy, I found myself gravitating towards the symbol of the Black Sun, or Sol Niger. As Stanton Marlan posits in the Introduction to his book The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness (2005),

The black sun is  a paradox. It is blacker than black, but it also shines with a dark luminescence that opens the way to some of the most numinous aspects of psychic life (p. 5).

James Hillman also addresses the hidden treasures of the darkness, in The Dream and The Underworld (1970).

It is not difficult to transpose psychology’s conceptual mythology to the mythology of the underworld, nor is it difficult to envision the relationship between dayworld and nightworld as the hero’s descent and our modern notions of the unconscious as reflections of Tartaros and Styx, Charon and Cerberus, Hades and Pluto. Pluto, especially is important to recognize in our euphemistic references to the unconscious as the giver of wholeness, a storehouse of abundant riches, a place not of fixation in torment, but a place, if propitiated rightly, that offers fertile plenty. Euphemism is a way of covering anxiety. In antiquity, Pluto (‘riches’) was said as a euphemistic name to cover the frightening depth of Hades. Today, the ‘creative’ unconscious euphemistically conceals the processes of destruction and death in the deeps of the soul (p. 20).

Death and destruction will be important alchemical processes when we look at the image of the Black Sun, and I will address them later. It would be easy to explore the darkness and confront Sol Niger strictly as a psychological phenomenon. But in keeping with the alchemical dictum, “as above, so below,” we are severely limiting our perception if we do. We can learn from the darkness and the Black Sun on every level we find it. By doing so, we can find a much larger and more complete understanding; one that will ultimately show that there is no need to fear the dark or what may be lurking in the shadows. Jung(1989) himself encourages us, advising us that “the darkness has its own peculiar intellect and its own logic, which should be taken very seriously” (p. 255).


Hillman, James. (1979). The Dream and the Underworld. New York: Harper Perennial.

Jung, Carl G. (1989). Mysterium Coniunctionis. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Marlan, Stanton. (2005). The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness. College Station: Texasa A&M University Press

(to be continued)


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