When I wrote about projection and the mirror of Narcissus last week, I realized there is a hidden connection between some of the topics I recently discussed: the neo-Platonic mirror theory of eros, and Jung's notion of spirit.
Dreams of the soul, visions of the spirit
In one of the most fascinating passages of "The Dream and the Underworld", Hillman considers dream characters: “In dreams we are visited by the daimones, nymphs, heroes, and Gods, shaped like our friends of last evening.” But the next question is obvious: “why don’t the shades and Gods come in their own shapes?" And once again Hillman’s answer has to do with the difference between soul and spirit.
The spirit of Jung, and the spirit of Hillman
Spiritual practice and its distractors
To add some more detail to the distinction we’re exploring, between spirit-work and soul-work, according to Hillman’s “Peaks and Vales” essay, let’s look at a common experience: distractions we suffer when we attempt some typical spirit work. These may fall under either of Hillman’s first two criteria (pathologizing of the soul and anima confusions), or perhaps even remain in a grey area in...
Is the way of the soul riskier than the way of the spirit?
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.
Loving anima confusions
I have started to discuss Hillman’s three criteria for telling soul-work and spirit-work apart. The first was that soul-work would take the soul’s pathologizing seriously. Now the second: love for anima; Hillman says that he would not recognize someone as doing soul-work if they “dismiss anima confusions for ego strength or spiritual illumination”. There’s a good bit to unpack here.
Understanding (Hillman’s notion of) pathologizing
How Jungian is the “pathologizing” nexus as indicator of soul-work?
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”...