The Light of Darkness
In my previous article "The Sacred Art of Alchemy," I contemplate how the unconscious part of ourselves becomes the raw material, the prima materia,out of which the alchemical gold, the philosophers' stone, which is none other than the enlightened mind, is refined and revealed. The art of alchemy has nothing to do with turning base metals into gold, and everything to do with transmuting our lower, primitive, instinctual selves into a more purified state. The goal of the spiritual art of alchemy is to unite the opposites -- to integrate the conscious and the unconscious, to unlock the light encoded and imprisoned within the darkness. The light within the darkness itself is known as the lumen naturae,the inner living light of primordial, ever-present, non-dual awareness itself, which is the light of nature that literally lights-up the whole of creation in this and every moment. To see the light that is hidden in the darkness is to become conscious, which, alchemically speaking, frees the spirit that is hidden and trapped inside the materialized world.
The art of alchemy itself is an expression that hidden in the darkness is light. The alchemists, Jung says, "discover that in the very darkness of nature a light is hidden, a little spark without which the darkness would not be darkness...the lumen naturae is the light of the darkness itself, which illuminates its own darkness, and this light the darkness comprehends" In contrast to a light that, as the Bible says, "shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended itnot," the lumen naturae, the light of lights, is a light that the darkness intimately recognizes as its own nature. The lumen naturae is the luminosity within the darkness recognizing itself as it illumines its own darkness. This archetypal experience of the luminescence of the divine being found in the translucent darkness is referred to in various mystical traditions by names such as the luminous darkness and the black sun.
A light that doesn't go out, the lumen naturae pervades, infuses and animates the physical world. Everything that arises in the materialized world is inseparable from and a modification of the lumen naturae. At the same time, being the light of non-dual awareness prior to consciousness, the lumen naturae inspires, e-lucid-ates, il-lumin-ates, and en-light-ens consciousness itself. Being non-dual, the lumen naturae non-locally and synchronistically con-figures co-arising events, bothin the physical world and reciprocally within the landscape of our minds, as a way of revealing itself.
The lumen naturae inspires our unconscious and animates our dreams. Alchemical texts say, "He ‘learns' the lumen naturae through dreams," and "As the light of nature cannot speak, it buildeth shapes in sleep from the power of the word (of God)." The Logos, the creative word of God, is also equivalent to the lumen naturae. Not limited to giving shape solely to our night dreams, the lumen naturae also interpenetrates and materializes itself into and shapes our shared waking dream, literally orchestrating the situations we find ourselves in during the course of our life. Because it is not bound to the laws of linear time and third-dimensional space, the lumen naturae is always extending and expressing itself everywhere.
The lumen naturae is not the light that we see, it is the invisible light by which we see, in that it is the non-dual light of sentient awareness itself. It is a light which inspires the world and yet it has no objects separate from itself. The lumen naturae is not a light separate from the darkness. For the alchemists, darkness wasn't merely an absence of light, but a quality that was an expression of the indwelling light of being that has no opposite. Shadows themselves are nothing other than an expression of light; light itself contains and generates shadows. Where there are no shadows, there is no light. Establishing ourselves in the viewpoint that can join the opposites, uniting the shadow and the light is to not only possess, but to create, genuine wealth within the core of our being. As Jung says,"one who can join the shadow to the light is the possessor of the greater riches." Among its many names, the philosophers' stone iscalled "The Pearl of Great Price," to signify its pricelessness, its preciousness, and its immeasurable value in all realms, both visible and invisible, outer and inner.
"Human consciousness," Jung explains, "...is the only seeing eye of the deity...God has made man so that he might see in the darkness." We are the instruments through which the lumen naturae illumines and realizes its own darkness, which is to simultaneously realize its light. The lumen naturae reveals itself in, as, and through the darkness. Just like light, the darkness itself is the unmediated crystallization and revelation of the non-dual light of the lumen naturae. We can unnecessarily limit ourselves by mistakenly thinking that illumination only means to "see the light." Seeing our own darkness, our own shadow, however, is initiatory and thereby is another form of illumination. Jung makes this point by saying, "not only darkness is known through light, but that, conversely, light is known through darkness." In becoming illuminated, the darkness illuminates us. In being seen, the darkness helps us to increase consciousness. In being made conscious, the darkness introduces us to the light of non-dual awareness, for without the darkness we wouldn't have realized the light. This is similar to how reflections in a mirror seemingly obscure the silvered face of the mirror while simultaneously revealing it. At the quantum level, it becomes impossible to distinguish where light ends and darkness begins, as they reveal themselves to be indissolubly united, a true conjunction of opposites.
The opposites, though seemingly polarized and adversarial toward each other, are intimately co-related, as they contain each other and help to bring the other into awareness and into manifestation. Using the image of the soil of the earth to symbolize matter, Jung makes this very point when he writes that the "soil is just matter, the absolute opposite of the spirit, yet it contains the spirit. Without encountering the soil one would never realize the spirit; it needs that resistance of matter in order to reveal itself." The opposites antagonistically co-operate with each other as a way to reveal their inseparable oneness.
All possible opposites are encoded in the lumen naturae in a state of open-ended potentiality. The natural spirit of the lumen naturae is a quantum form of light in that it manifests either in its wave or particle-like aspect depending upon how it is seen. Because of its divine origin and nature, the lumen naturae deserves our highest veneration and respect. Jung warns, however, "For those who are unmindful of this light, the lumen naturae turns into a ignis fatuus [something that misleads or deludes, an illusion], and the psychopomp [guide of the soul] into a diabolical seducer. Lucifer, who could have brought light, becomes the father of lies whose voice in our time, supported by press and radio, revels in orgies of propaganda and leads untold millions to ruin." When we don't honor a part of ourselves that belongsto our wholeness, this denied aspect constellates negatively, both within ourselves and nonlocally throughout the field. In our current age, this process of contracting against our own power and light is being collectively dreamed up and played out "in orgies of propaganda"on the world stage, with very real potential to lead "untold millions to ruin."
The Hermetic Vessel
One of the key conditions needed for the success of the alchemical art is a closed and air-tight hermetic vessel, or "container," which is able to withstand the pressure needed for the transformation and "cooking" of the prima materia. Speaking of the profundity of the alchemical vase, the legendary writer of antiquity Maria Prophetissa says that "the whole secret lies in knowing about the Hermetic vessel." A vessel of and for the spirit, the alchemical container is no merephysical apparatus, but rather is a mystical idea, a primal image, a genuine symbol expressing something of real value within the verypsyche that produced it. The concept and experience of the hermetic vessel develops and emerges out of the unconscious itself as a result of contemplating and thus shedding light on the unconscious.
In a mysterious way, the alchemical vase is identical with its contents. The psyche itself IS the mystical hermetic vessel, in that the psyche catalyzes the transformation of the prima materia, is itself the prima materia which is being transformed, and it also is the container in which the transmutation occurs, as well as being the philosophers' stone that is born out of the work. Feminine in nature, the spacious hermetic vessel is a receptive uterus and matrix of spiritual renewal and rebirth. Jung writes that as the psyche of humanity becomes conscious, "It becomes the divine cradle, the womb, the sacred vase in which the deity itself will be locked in, carried and born." The hermetic vessel is the expression of the feminine, whose intrinsic and invulnerable power is its spacious nature, which is able to hold space so as to give birth in and to form.
The life-giving alchemical container typically is portrayed as having a purifying fire underneath it, symbolizing the heat of introspective, contemplative awareness, which is needed to create sufficient psychological pressure for transformation. If there's not enough pressure, no transformation takes place. In alchemy, the fire purifies, while simultaneously melting and synthesizing the opposites into a unity. Jung points out that "attention warmed the unconscious and activated it, thereby breaking down the barriers that separate it from consciousness," allowing its contents to pass between the conscious and unconscious more easily. The alchemists used images of the gentle warmth of a brooding hen incubating her eggs and the baking of bread to symbolize this process. The first was an image of the heat from nature, the second was an image of humanity's ability to alternature through the heat of awareness. Jung elaborates, "'Heating' is necessary; that is, there must be an intensification of consciousness in order that light may be kindled in the dwelling place of the true self." For the alchemical "work" to be successful, the "heat" generated by the mutual co-operation and cross-fertilization of nature (both terrestrial and celestial), and human art was essential.
A "hermetically-sealed" vessel (sealed with the stamp of Hermes, who is related to Mercurius, the two-faced God-image of the alchemists), symbolically speaking, prevents anything extraneous from entering into the operation, as well as stopping un-reflected-upon projections from leaking out into the world. In addition, a hermetically sealed container keeps the flask from "blowing its lid," which would be symbolic of not being able to "contain" the creative tension and pressure. "Blowing our top" is to become possessed by, and thereby compelled to unconsciously act out primitive, un-integrated, archetypal affects of overwhelming emotion and passion.
If we try to escape the pain, frustration, and dissatisfaction of our existential situation by continually acting out our unconscious without reflecting upon what we are doing, we are postponing a deeper and more genuine relationship with ourselves. In avoiding relationship with ourselves, we are like a hamster frantically running around insideof a wheel, and our suffering is totally neurotic and unproductive. But if we are able to hold the powerful psychic energies that get constellated when we go inwards, and try to consciously explore, express, and embrace the experience, our suffering becomes redemptive, and genuine transformation occurs.
Creatively holding the tension of the opposites without splitting, dissociating, or projecting out one of the opposites is a conscious experience of darkness that nourishes and cultivates the light of the Self. Instead of oscillating and being thrown back and forth between the opposites, a state in which we identify with one of the opposites while having no conscious connection with the other, we develop a container within ourselves where we are able to experience both opposites simultaneously. The inspiration for this process, the philosophers' stone crystallizes in, as and through the individual psyche as a result. Consciousness is a psychic substance that is produced by the opposites suffered, not blindly, but in living awareness. With a good container, the endless circling and cycling, instead of being a holding pattern that parasitically drains our energy, becomes a circulating spiral that leads both ever higher into consciousness and deeper into the unconscious, where it circumambulates, illuminates, and activates the latent creative sourceat its center.
The highest value, whether it is called the Self, Christ, or the philosophers' stone is already present in a state of latent potentiality until it is consciously realized in the human soul. The alchemical vessel is symbolic of the importance of the psychic comprehension of the Self. Recognizing the wholeness of the Self is the very act that actualizes the Self in time. We, through our consciousness or lack thereof, play the key role in the creation of the mystical vessel, and hence, ourselves. The multi-dimensional vessel, envisioned as amaterial substance, symbolizes the realization of divinity reaching down into and transforming matter. Each individual human being is the Holy Grail-like vessel in which God comes to consciousness. Jung writes, "In man God sees himself from 'outside' and thus becomes conscious of himself." Humanity, through our self-reflective awareness, becomes a conduit through which God becomes aware of Itself in a novel way and thereby further Incarnates.
We are living, breathing alchemical vessels in flesh and blood, receptacles created and prepared by God for Its transformation and Incarnation. Jung talks about "...man being the retort in which the god is transformed, where he descends into uttermost matter and where the spirit develops out of matter again, carrying with itself all the degrees of existence." Transforming the microcosm resonantly effects and nonlocally transforms the macrocosm. The alchemical adepts, by transforming themselves, transformed all 360 degrees of existence, the full circle of their experience, which is to say the whole universe.
Alchemy is a means and path to cultivate a higher degree of inner alignment and coherence. The philosophers' stone is actualized when the opposites, be they good and evil, male and female, or light and dark, become united in what is the final stage of the opus: the "coniunctio." This is the sacred marriage, the hierosgamos, in which the fully differentiated and polarized opposites are re-united and wed as one. The stone is a hermaphrodite, a living state of androgynous being in which our masculine and feminine energies continually love andnourish each other and join together as one in a positive, "over-unity"feedback loop that literally creates a constant out-pouring of abundant, radiant "energy."
The term "over-unity" refers to the fact that more energy comes out of than goes into the system. This is something that only can occur instates of exceptional coherence and resonance within the system. This is to say that the system, in this case the alchemical adept, has to enter a state of deep integrity and self-congruity enabling them to overcome the entropy and inertia that characterizes the typically neurotic, split, and fragmented state of humanity. They are thus able to play with, express, transduce and manifest the formless creative spirit in the third-dimensional world of time and space. True magicians, accomplished alchemists are able to "culture" creativity within and among themselves in a way that influences, enhances and in-forms the whole field. The accomplished alchemists, just like the archetypal figure of the creative artist (see my article, "The Artist as the Healer of the World"), are thus actively participating in and being instruments for the archetypal creative process itself. This figure, whether it is called artist, alchemist, shaman, healer, bodhisattva, or dreamer re-presents and is symbolic of the archetypal figure within us who is actively participating in our own transformation, while at the same time helping to consciously and co-operatively create a more grace-filled and loving universe.
Being living philosophical stones, we are all potentially "over-unity humans." The philosophers' stone, though immaterial, would solve the world's "energy crisis" in no time at all if properly engaged. The philosophers' stone both symbolizes and is a real portal to the plenum of infinite potential, which contains within itself manifestable abundance. Incarnating our true nature as living philosophical stones, we can create genuine wealth, both inwardly and outwardly in the world. For this reason the philosophers' stone is also called "The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel."
Jung suggests that, "The 'treasure hard to attain' [another of the stone's names] lies hidden in the ocean of the unconscious, and only the brave can reach it. I conjecture that the treasure is also the 'companion,' the one who goes through life at our side -- in all probability a close analogy to the lonely ego who finds a mate in theself." The treasure is the mythical "magical, travelling companion" that we go through the journey of life with, the unseen partner who is both ourselves and "other" than ourselves at the same time. To quote Jung's closest colleague, Marie Louise von Franz, "...the Self becomes an inner partner toward whom one's attention is continually turned." We have a celestial twin, a wholly imaginal reflection of ourselves. We are a tandem, intimately coupled together as a bi-unity with the Self. In different traditions this celestial twin is known by a host of names, such as the double, the guardian angel, the guiding spirit, the beloved and the perfect nature. In a reciprocal and mutually transformative relationship, our longing is for this very archetypal figure who is itself instigating our longing.
Jung describes this very state of relatedness by saying, "It is the state of someone who, in his wanderings among the mazes of his psychic transformation, comes upon a secret happiness which reconciles him to his apparent loneliness. In communing with himself, he finds not deadly boredom and melancholy but an inner partner; more than that, a relationship that seems like the happiness of a secret love, or like a hidden springtime...It is the alchemical benedicta viriditas, the blessed greenness [interestingly, in ecclesiastical symbolism the color green is an attribute of the Holy Spirit]." The "germ" of the prima materia has blossomed into relationship, in that we have found to whom we are (transpersonally) related. We recognize that we exist relative to the Self. This is the birth of Eros, which is the principle and capacity in the human soul for relatedness, both within ourselves and out in the world with others. The spirit of Eros sees things together instead of apart, gathers and connects things instead of dividing, and establishes relationships between things instead ofcreating separation. The spirit of Eros has to do with feeling, expressing and embodying the spirit of love, compassion and forgiveness, both toward others and the other within ourselves, who is none other than ourselves.
The prima materia at times can manifest as and introduce us to the wholly adversarial other within ourselves. The prima materia is initiation by ordeal, in that it demands that we develop relationship with the other within ourselves, who, paradoxically, is ultimately none other than ourselves (see my article "Meeting the Other Within"). When the alchemists speak of "meditatio" and "imaginatio" (meditation and imagination), they mean, as Jung explains, "...an inner dialogue and hence a living relationship to the answering voice of the "other" inourselves, i.e., of the unconscious." The prima materia is a disguised, hidden and projected form of our inner voice and guiding spirit that initiates this dialogue.
Jung called this dialogue with the other within ourselves, between the conscious and the unconscious, "active imagination." The psychological process of active imagination is the equivalent of the symbolic operations of alchemy. Instead of passively watching the manifestations of the unconscious, in active imagination we fully engage with and actively participate in a conscious relationship with our unconscious. In active imagination we find ourselves being asked to creatively respond and come to terms with the voice of the "other"within ourselves. When an unconscious content is about to become conscious, it first becomes partially conscious, like something that is translucent -- simultaneously visible and invisible. In active imagination, we enter into a creative dialogue with these unconscious contents, facilitating their passage from an unconscious, potential state to a conscious, actual one. Active imagination is the most powerful technique Jung ever encountered for bridging this gap and metabolizing, digesting and assimilating the contents of the unconscious and hence, becoming conscious. As Jung so eloquently articulates, "Becoming conscious of an unconscious content amounts to its integration in the conscious psyche and is therefore a coniunctio Solis et Lunae [Sun and Moon]." A conjunction of Sun and Moon symbolizes a coming together and union of opposites. Making unconscious contents conscious is equivalent to alchemically liberating the spirit that is imprisoned in matter.
When we are unconsciously identified with the contents of our unconscious, we cannot see these contents, as being identical with them, we have not separated ourselves from these contents so as to be able to see them as objects. These unconscious contents are still too much a part of our frame of reference through which we interpret our experience for us to examine them with any objectivity. Before we can integrate a content of the unconscious, we must distinguish ourselves from it. In active imagination, we "objectify" the contents of our unconscious by creatively giving them shape and form, thereby making them into an object that we, as subject, are separate from, and with whom we have an interactive relationship and dialogue. Jung comments, "The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness. That is the technique for stripping them of their power." Personifying and entering into conscious relationship with the figures of our unconscious as if they are autonomous, independent living entities takes away their compelling power over us.
Any constellated, unconscious content which we are not in relationship with possesses us from behind and beneath our conscious awareness. When we are unconscious of something that is activated within us, we are identified with it and are compelled to act it out unconsciously in our life. When we are unconscious of something that is kindled within us, Jung writes, "it moves us or activates us as if we were marionettes. We can only escape that effect by making it conscious and objectifying it, putting it outside of ourselves, taking it out of the unconscious. "When fully objectified, we not only take away the unconscious content's power over us, but we are able to access and unite with the power which animates it in a way which empowers ourselves.
By objectifying these inner figures, we dis-identify from them and give a body and voice to these seemingly autonomous, disembodied and dismembered parts of ourselves who appear to have a mind of their own and simply need translation into the third-dimensional, spatio-temporal medium of matter. It is not hard to objectify the contents of the unconscious, as being autonomous, they seemingly possess an identity all their own, so they naturally have a tendency to spontaneously personify themselves within our psyche. Contemplating the archetypal paradox of how the solution is encoded in the seeming problem, Jung continues, "Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it." This "best means" is the process of active imagination.
To stop identifying with these unconscious contents is to step out of our inflated thinking that we, as seemingly independent, egoic agents existing in time, are creating the contents of our unconscious. Jung comments, "closer study shows that as a rule the images of the unconscious are not produced by consciousness, but have a reality and spontaneity of their own." Paradoxically, thinking that we are creating the contents of the unconscious assures that we are in the thrall of and being created by the unconscious. Having its own logic and being beyond our control, the unconscious is truly autonomous, in that we, as ego, are not writing its script. On the contrary, to the extent that we are identified with a content of the unconscious, it is writing our script.
Speaking about his own personal experience, Jung writes in his autobiography that it was actually animated figures within his imagination that "...brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life." Seemingly living, autonomous figures existing inside of Jung's imagination, figures whom Jung subjectively experienced as other than himself, revealed and literally taught Jung to recognize the autonomous nature of the psyche. Speaking about one such inner figure, Jung comments, "In my fantasies, I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I." Jung was "hearing voices," which in his case as well as in many others, was not a pathological phenomenon, but an illumination (thank God for all of us that he didn't get "medicated" out of his illumination by psychiatry). These inner figures helped Jung understand "that there is something in me which can say things that I do not know." There is a figure in us who knows us better than we know ourselves.
Objectifying the contents of the unconscious is to discover and step into the perspective that we are a subject with a viewpoint other than that held by the now objectified contents. Relating to the contents of our unconscious as if they are other than ourselves is at the same time to relate to ourselves as other than these contents. In objectifying contents of our unconscious, we are simultaneously dis-identifying from them and creating ourselves distinct from and relative to these contents. As Jung points out, "In the final analysis the decisive factor is always consciousness, which can understand the manifestations of the unconscious and take up a position toward them." Paradoxically, recognizing these contents as other than ourselves is the very act that helps us to eventually own, embrace and integrate these unconscious contents as ultimately parts of ourselves.
As compared to the materialism of science, which concerns itself with knowing the universe as an object separate from itself, becoming conscious is an act that involves relationship. The root meaning of the word consciousness, etymologically speaking, is"knowing together or seeing with an other." The process of becoming conscious requires both seeing and being seen, knowing and being known. The birth of consciousness itself involves being both subject and object of the process at the same time.
In seeing an unconscious content, in ultimately recognizing the other within ourselves, we are at the same time revealing ourselves, both to the other and to ourselves. When we experience the other in ourselves as an object, we simultaneously open ourselves to being the subject of the transpersonal other within ourselves. Jung writes, "I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me." This other-than-myself which sees the (ego) me as an object relativizes the ego, taking away the seeming autonomy and omnipotence that the ego enjoys as long as it operates unconsciously. Being seen by the imaginal other is an inner, archetypal experience where we feel as if we are being seen by the eye of God.
Psychologically, this means that the gigis up, as we can no longer get away with our denial and self-deception. Subordinated to the status of an object known to a transcendental subject changes the context for the ego, as it is then recognized to be related to, and the creation of, something beyond itself, namely the Self. Recognizing that we are the subject of a wholly other is an expression of the part of us that is dis-identifying from our limited egoic perspective and beginning to connect, enter into relationship with, and see through the supra-ordinate viewpoint of the Self.
Our sense of self expands as we see ourselves from outside the locus of our ego. Knowing that we are being seen by the autonomous other within ourselves initiates and is an expression of a deeper process in which we are seeing ourselves, i.e., becoming conscious. In other words, we are seeing ourselves, which we project out into some imaginal other who is seeing us at the same time that we are seeing it. We thus are seeing ourselves through our imagination of how the eye of the imagined other within (ultimately an aspect of ourselves) sees us. This gives us a new and expanded perspective on ourselves that is wholly other than our usual frame of self-reference.
In this series of articles on alchemy, I feel as if we are engaging in active imagination with Jung himself. To step into my own very "active" imagination, I can easily imagine that the figure of Jung is my "familiar," my inner guide. This imaginary Jung feels very familiar, like the grandfather I never had, as if he's someone I've known for along time. A seemingly "other" within myself, I subjectively experience him as a living figure inside my psyche. Jung could be describing my experience of him when he describes his experience of one of his own inner figures by saying, "At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality." I'm not quite sure how Jung has seemingly found his way into my psyche, but I'm quite happy that he's found a home, and want him to feel most welcome.
In moments when Jung, through his writings, is speaking to my own experience, I feel not so alone, as if I have found someone else who shares and is familiar with the inner landscape that I have found myself navigating. When Jung is expressing something that I know to be true within myself, I become ecstatic, because I couldn't have said it better myself, and now I have found the words. During these moments, my inner Jung also becomes ecstatic, I imagine, because in speaking to and helping to clarify my inner experience, his work has helped someone. Because he was plugged into something greater than himself, it is as if the spirit that animated Jung is continuing to transmit itself through the medium of his writings, years after his death. Who knows, maybe I'm having a psychological "transference" with my inner Jung, which is helping me to heal my own unresolved father process. Of course, all of this is merely my imagination, which as you can tell, is quite "active."
Not being able to keep my inner Jung quiet even for an instant, he wants us to know that this experience of meeting the "other" can lead the alchemist "to the highest and most decisive experience of all, which is to be alone with his own self." Jung continues, quite insistently, I might add, that he "must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation."Paradoxically, in connecting with the other within ourselves, we become intimately acquainted with ourselves. Through this experience we discover our true source of strength and courage, as well as an unassailable refuge at the core of our being.
There is in the unconscious a transpersonal center of latent consciousness and obscure intentionality. The discovery of this center, what Jung calls the Self, is like the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence existing within the depths of our being. We realize that we are not alone, not only in the cosmos, but also in our own psyche. We discover that we are no longer masters in our own house, and in fact, never were. The vicissitudes of life then take on a deeper meaning -- Dreams, thoughts, emotions, fantasies, illness, accidents and coincidence become the activities of and potential messages from the unseen, intimate partner within, with whom we share our life.
The encounter with the Self is always a wounding experience for the ego (please see my article "The Wounded Healer: Part 1 and Part 2"). To quote the late dean of American Jungian analysts, Edward F. Edinger, "At first, the encounter with the Self is indeed a defeat for the ego, but with perseverance, Deo volente [God willing], light is born from the darkness. One meets the ‘Immortal One' who wounds and heals, who casts down and raises up, who makes small and makes large -- in a word, the One who makes one whole." Leaving no one unchanged, experiencing the light within the darkness is to meet the unified Self, a truly numinous, transfiguring and unifying experience. Only that truth which is genuinely one's own can cure the sickness that afflicts the soul. As Jung says, "only what is really oneself has the power to heal."
Image by onkel_wart (very busy) courtesy of Creative Commons license.