In recent posts, I have discussed Hillman’s distinction between soul-work and spirit-work (doing psychology vs. spiritual development). Hillman claims Jung’s ancestry here, but there are also grave differences in how they understood these notions.
I have criticized Hillman for saying that Jung’s archetypes of the Self and the Wise Old Man are the same — mostly for the reason that Jung in many passages clearly speaks as if these are not just not the same, but even widely separated notions. There is, however, one very central passage in Jung’s work where he explicitly discusses the difference between the Wise Old Man and the Self archetypes.
We have now looked into two of the three marks that distinguish soul-work (psychology) from spirit-work: pathologizing and anima confusions are regarded as inherent activities of the soul, and therefore in soul-work we must attend to them and engage them on their own terms, rather than trying to get rid of them.
In Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung points to a fundamental difference between Christian religion and alchemy. Both are concerned, according to him, with the monumental task of unifying opposites; but Christian religion finds these opposites projected in spirit (Geist) and alchemy projects them into physis (Stoff), whereas “none locates the problem where it originated, namely, in the human soul”...
Is there a difference between spirit and soul? In his survey of what the term "spirit" means, Jung notes in passing that it is “common opinion that spirit and soul are essentially the same and therefore only arbitrarily separable”. And it is true that, in Jung’s work, the use of notions such as “psyche”, “spirit”, and “soul” seems at times arbitrary or at least vague...
Jung’s two essays on synchronicities and on spirit in the fairy tale have a striking claim in common: that there is a “hidden meaning [Sinn] behind the chaotic events in life”. It will be interesting to compare how the two essays introduce the core finding: there is an interesting commonality, and one important difference.
I have explored, in some depth now, a particular archetypal idea: that “there is a hidden meaning behind chaotic life”. The way I have explored it was through Jung’s essay on spirit, which deals explicitly with it. But there is a connection between this idea and synchronicities, which Jung, it seems, didn’t make.
In the case of Spirit, Jung does not talk about an individual’s process of integrating archetypal contents as psychological functions: he claims that such a process happened as an overarching development in the history of the human species. That, of course, is a variation on an origin myth: a phantasy, projected backwards into history.