Logo Home Writing News About Contact Links

Site Map

Home >

Writing >

Books >

Symb. of Popular... >


[ < Previous | Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Next > ]

One of the key works Jung based Mysterium on was an alchemical text titled Rosarium philosophorum. This text consists of a series of symbolic pictures which are reproduced in the Edinger book. The pictures represent the Rosarium Cycle or a sequence of psychological events that repeat themselves over and over. They are cycles. As Edinger remarks, they are meant to illustrate the events going on inside the alchemical flask or the containing vessel. Edinger notes that the alchemical vessel symbolizes three different psychological contexts: 1) a process within an individual 2) a process between two people and 3) a process within a group or community, a collective process. The "vessel" that contains them needs to be defined when looking at the Rosarium pictures. The sequential stages of the pictures are the following:

  • The Mandala Fountain
  • Emergence of Opposites
  • Stripped for Action
  • Descent into the Bath
  • Union, Manifestation of the Mystery
  • In the Tomb
  • Separation of Soul and Body
  • Gideon's Dew Drops from the Cloud
  • Reunion of the Soul and Body
  • Resurrection of the United Eternal Body

As Edinger notes in The Mystery of the Coniunctio, the pattern of the Rosarium pictures represents symbolically the stages of a dynamic process in the objective psyche. The pictures are meant to illustrate events going on in the alchemical flask.

A startling sequential correspondence between the Rosarium Cycle and the life of Christ was explored by Jung during this late period of his life. As Jung noted in Psychology and Religion (Bollingen, 1958) "What happens in the life of Christ happens always and everywhere. In the Christian archetype all lives of this kind are prefigured." Again, a slim volume from Edinger provides an accessible key into this little known area of Jungian psychology. In The Christian Archetype: A Jungian Commentary on the Life of Christ (Inner City, 1987), Edinger notes the various sequential nodal points in the life of Christ:

  • Annunciation
  • Nativity
  • Flight from Egypt
  • Baptism
  • Triumphal Entry
  • Last Supper
  • Gethsemane
  • Arrest
  • Flagellation and Mocking
  • Crucifixion
  • Lamentation and Entombment
  • Resurrection and Ascension
  • Pentecost

The match with the Rosarium Cycle with the Incarnation Cycle works in the following manner:

  • The Mandala Fountain
  • Emergence of Opposites (Annunciation)
  • Stripped for Action (Nativity)
  • Descent into the Bath (Baptism)
  • Union, Manifestation of the Mystery (Crucifixion)
  • In the Tomb (Crucifixion)
  • Separation of Soul and Body (Lamentation)
  • Gideon's Dew Drops from the Cloud (Entombment)
  • Reunion of the Soul and Body (Resurrection)
  • Resurrection of the United Eternal Body (Ascension)

One can see the close connection between the sequences of alchemy and the incarnation cycle expressed in the life of Christ. The connection is more than mere coincidence.Dramatic Sequence

The sequences found in mythology, religion and psychology also have a connection to dramatic structure. Gilbert Murray, the great classical scholar of the nineteenth century, provides a sequence of classic Greek tragedy. In "Excursus on the Ritual Forms Preserved in Greek Tragedy" Murray sees the basic cycle as a ritual reenactment of the death and rebirth of the Year Spirit. The ritual has four sequences:

First Sequence

The protagonist hero is Dionysus who is the personification of the Year Spirit. He meets an embodiment of evil and the opposites are constellated. A contest called Agon in Greek ensues.

Second Sequence

The defeat leads to a passion or suffering and a defeat of Dionysus, the Year Spirit. This is the Pathos.

Third Sequence

This is followed by the lamentation or the Threnos, on the part of the chorus, the observers of the drama.

Fourth Sequence

Then a miraculous enantiodromia takes place and the god remanifests, resurrects and reappears on another level. This is called the Theophany.

Briefly, this can be noted in short-hand in the following manner:

  • A contest called the Agon leads to defeat of hero
  • Passion or suffering after defeat leads to the Pathos
  • Lamentation or Threnos by the chorus, the observers
  • Hero remanifests and resurrects called the Theophany

The parallel with the dramatic structure of modern cinema is very close. Similar to the three phases of the hero's journey, films contain three basic acts. These acts can be viewed as symbolic sequences containing the following elements in each of the three major acts:

  • Act I
    The set-up dominated by the protagonist
  • Act II
    Conflict where the protagonist fights the antagonist
  • Act III
    Resolution after the climax where equilibrium restored

Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces has become a type of cinematic "Bible" for mythic deep structure in modern films. His popularity in the film community was no doubt greatly helped by his close friendship with George Lucas who closely followed the hero's voyage of Campbell's book in creating Star Wars. In fact, many film makers simply superimpose Campbell's three stages of the hero's voyage over the three act structure to arrive at the following sequence:

  • Act I (Departure)
  • Act II (Initiation)
  • Act III (Return)

The Campbell structure is the specific subject of an interesting study by Christopher Vogler called The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure For Storytellers And Screenwriters (1992). Vogler expands on the three major phases of Campbell's hero's voyage with the following additions to three sequences:

  • Act I (Departure, Separation)
  • Act II (Descent, Initiation, Penetration)
  • Act III (Return)

In effect, the departure of the hero is really the separation of the ego from the original unity of the mother. In rituals throughout history, the initiate leaves the village or the group. This has a close parallel with the departure stage in modern films and in Campbell's work. The initiation is really the confrontation of the newly formed consciousness with the original Great Mother of unconsciousness. Often in mythology there is a battle with a great dragon in this phase. This dragon really represents the unconsciousness trying to pull the consciousness back into it. Finally, the return represents a type of balance between the opposites. This balance is one of the great goals of analytical psychology and is termed individuation in the Jungian system.

Generational Sequence

All cycles contain sequences. If American history can be viewed from a cyclic (rather than a linear perspective) then the broad cycles of American history should contain sequences within them.

Strauss and Howe propose a sequence within American cycles and document it extensively in The Fourth Turning. The sequence they propose consists the following series of stages:

  • High
  • Awakening
  • Unraveling
  • Crisis

Each of the above sequences is really a generation of roughly twenty years. The authors maintain that each cycle (or saeculum) of American history goes through these four sequential stages. They represent the seasonal rhythm of history in the four stages of:

  • Growth
  • Maturation
  • Entropy
  • Rebirth

For example, the millennial cycle which we are now going through (1946 to 2026) contains the periods of time in the above sequence:

  • High (1946 - 1964)
  • Awakening (1964 - 1984)
  • Unraveling (1984 - 2005)
  • Crisis (2005 - 2026)

Apart from providing a sequence within American cycles of history, Strauss and Howe find there is a symbolic correspondence between these generational sequences and those who inhabit the various generations.

The authors identify four key generational archetypes and suggest they get their archetypal definition by the generation they are born in.

  • Prophet (Born in a High)
  • Nomad (Born in Awakening)
  • Unraveling (Born in Unraveling)
  • Crisis (Born in Crisis)

Once being born in a particular sequence, the archetype is molded by the progression of stages this person goes through. The stages of life the authors identify are birth (childhood), young adulthood, mid-life and elder. For instance, the progression for a "prophet" would look like the following:

Prophet (Age in various sequences)

  • Born in High
  • Young adulthood in Awakening
  • Mid-life in Unraveling
  • Elder in Crisis

The authors suggest that there are "turnings" which are social moods which change each time a generational archetype enters a new constellation. In the millennial cycle, these turnings have occurred around 1946, 1964 and 1984. According to Strauss and Howe's theories, the "fourth turning" will occur around 2005.

Sequence Of Psychological Functions

A group of basic psychological functions have been theorized about since ancient times. The most popular contemporary updating of this theory is Carl Jung's four psychological types based around intuition, sensation, feeling and thinking. The immediate question of interest is whether these functions are sequential, that is, whether they occur in the human psyche in a given order and, if so, what this order might be.

This question was the subject of a 1996 investigation by Gerry Lenhart of San Francisco's Pacifica Graduate Institute. Lenhart's research suggested that intuition occurs first in the womb, followed by the functions of sensation, feeling and thinking. Lenhart places a special emphasis on intuition as the first and last psychological function and the basis of the "soul" complex while sensation serves as the basis of the "ego" complex. The ordering of the functions is seen as universal in their distribution and application regardless of the local type emphases of particular cultures or the individual type preference of individuals in these cultures.

There are some interesting offshoots of this perspective. Lenhart postulates that the experience of being in the womb can be interpreted as the foundation for the paradise mythology of Genesis and that Genesis can be seen as a metaphor for the womb experience. In this scenario, birth serves as a metaphor for the Fall. The motif of returning to the womb, or to Paradise, describes the experience of returning to the psychological state first experienced in the womb.

With this reasoning, the conclusion is arrived at that the first function of intuition is symbolically associated with the first biological state of being in the womb. Intuition is the path back to the oneness, unconscious state in the womb.

A number of interesting questions which arise from this line of speculation. One is whether the functions demonstrate an overall linear development throughout the life of the psyche with the increasing movement away from the early state when intuition dominated towards the function of thinking. Or, do the functions appear sequentially through life in a cyclic pattern moving between the dualities of intuition and thinking? Another question involves the two psychological attitudes of introversion and extroversion and whether there is a sequential order to these. Does one of these attitudes come before the other in the life of the psyche?

Another question involves the relationship of these ideas to a symbolism of popular culture. Is mass psychology or the collective unconscious dominated by one of these attitudes or functions at a particular point in time? And, if so, is this domination expressed by particular types of contentual and contextual symbols? For example, would the dominance of an intuitive collective psychology be evident in the dominance of a particular film or television genre? If so, and if there is a sequential order, then prediction of the next popular genre might be possible.

While there is still much research to be done in this area, the questions are important because they make a direct connection between sequential patterns, symbolism and developmental psychology.

Sequence in Physical Senses

Sensory data whether visual, sound, touch, taste or smell can be placed on various spectrums or scales which are subject to sequence. The elements of the sequence might be waves of light, vibrations of sound or degrees of taste, touch and smell. The spectrum of classification is arranged by such criteria as the shortest to the longest.

One of the better known spectrums is the color spectrum seen naturally during the occurence of a rainbow and artificially produced by use of a prism. The sequential range and wavelengths of color (in namometers) associated with the color spectrum are the following:

Note that the above is the human spectrum of visible light encompasses the range from 740 nm to 390 nm. Wavelengths of light outside this range (such as ultraviolet) are therefore not visible to the naked eye. It is also interesting to point out that the range sizes vary greatly with red having the largest range and yellow the smallest.

A similar type of range is found in sound. For example, the western musical harmonic scale consists of the seven musical notes A,B,C,D,E,F and G forming an octave.

Range in other senses also fall onto a spectrum. Taste sensory data runs from sourness to sweetness. Range in touch from hardness to softness.

[ < Previous | Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Next > ]

^ To Top

Home | Writing | News | About | Contact | Links

Copyright © 2001 John Fraim