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Are there any clues from beyond the synchronicities essay?

It’s not exactly easy to figure out, from the synchronicities essay, what Jung’s conclusion regarding synchronicity actually was. Most likely, he didn’t really arrive at one. In the text itself, there is a bit of a fuzzy overlay of two main viewpoints. One is a metaphysical notion of a “psychoid” background layer behind both the physical and psychic worlds, which both reflect that layer without...

Ways of soul-making: mystification

Every question for which we have found an answer does also reveal, at the same time, some uncertain aspects — aspects that aren’t just unanswered yet, but somehow seem all the more difficult to figure out now since we know what we’ve learned. Questions, in a word, lead to answers which in turn always seem to lead to more questions. When we look at this fact of life from the perspective of...

On not confusing stages with the whole, or stages with the goal

In my last post I have outlined an interpretation of Hillman’s central idea of soul-making, and connected it with the notion of projection (in analytical psychology), the relationship between individual souls and the collective psyche, and the theoretical move of treating both individual human beings and ideas as souls which can be perceived as personalized. In the background of this line of...

Soul-making

I have traced interconnections, dependencies between archetypal ideas, e.g. between Spirit and Anima. These interrelations are what is behind the progression Ego-Shadow-Anima-Spirit in Jung’s typical layout. And I have said that these connections must be built into the archetypal ideas themselves. We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that this “must” is a prescriptive constraint on idea...

The structural characteristics of archetypal ideas

How can it be that the dynamic (and the interdependencies) are built into the ideas of Spirit and Anima? For this to be the case, the very formulation of the ideas must entail (or at least strongly imply) them. What’s more, it cannot simply be the abstract terminology, the conceptual definitions which differentiate the ideas: the dynamic and interdependencies must be woven into their symbolic...

Absent conversations

We all occasionally find ourselves in conversations where we have the strong impression that the other person — the one we’re talking to — doesn’t even listen. They have tuned out; they’re absent. 1. They are absent, of course, only in a metaphorical sense: for obviously, they are present physically; and they are not entirely disconnected mentally, either: they can return to full presence in no...

The idea of spirit (and its class of peers)

Life may seem chaotic on the surface, but there is a hidden meaning in it. This idea is not something we can find empirically — by intersubjectively verifiable observation of stable, repeatable phenomena —, nor can we deduct it inferentially from axiomatic principles or the totality of facts. It’s an idea that we arrive at psychologically: by experiencing it in a metaphorical way. The idea of a...

How compatible is the soul’s knowledge with accounts of the “why” of the journey?

If, as Hillman thinks, there is a particular kind of mystical “knowledge in the soul” which stems from recollections of underworld journeys, then we might ask whether this helps us to further clarify the “why”: namely, why a gradual removal from life and the world (which is what an underworld journey amounts to) is so important for the psyche. I have already traced three theoretical approaches to...

Connecting a few dots

We are now in a position to make some connections. At the end of a much earlier post, I have posed the question whether there is a reason behind the fact that the archetype of a hidden meaning (the archetype of spirit) appears sometimes personified (as Wise Old Man etc.) and sometimes as synchronicity (whether that means as Jung’s supposed “principle” or simply as de facto appearances of...

The longed-for source of the soul’s knowing

The journey to the underworld is a metaphor for an individual’s turn inwards, and their corresponding withdrawal from the external world with its social and interpersonal relationships; the point of making that journey is to learn something spiritual: for spirit can appear personified in the realm of pure soul (i.e., in Hades) as Wise Old Man — so that the individual can learn from him. But what...

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.

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