Jungian Genealogy for Everyone

•August 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment



Approaches to Genealogy

Your own BOOK OF THE DEAD is written in your DNA.
Deciphering its inherent meaning is a Quest for the Grail and the journey of psychological transformation. We instinctively engage in semi-conscious conversations with these ephemeral figures from our past and find, perhaps to our surprise, that they inform us with a hitherto unknown wisdom or perplex us with unsolvable riddles.

A pedigree is a symbolic hologram of our intertwined histories and structure — interacting waves upon waves of generations in the ocean of humanity. Because the ancestors number literally in the thousands, we come to understand the transformation is within the unfolding therapeutic practice, rather than contained only in each of the historical or fictional figures.

Genealogical research is a complex process that uses historical records and sometimes genetic analysis to demonstrate kinship. Reliable conclusions are based on the quality of sources, ideally original records, the information within those sources. Ideally evidence is drawn, directly or indirectly from primary or firsthand information.

In many instances, genealogists must skillfully assemble indirect or circumstantial evidence to build a case for identity and kinship. All evidence and conclusions, together with the documentation that supports them, is then assembled to create a cohesive genealogy or family history.

Genealogists begin their research by collecting family documents and stories. This creates a foundation for documentary research, which involves examining and evaluating historical records for evidence about ancestors and other relatives, their kinship ties, and the events that occurred in their lives. As a rule, genealogists begin with the present and work backward in time.

  • Rational
  • Spiritual
  • Psychological
  • Psychic
  • Legendary
  • Mythological
  • Irrational
  • Delusional

Some approaches are overtly Christian, or they may have religious overtones even for a non-religious person. Others will come to the subject with a pagan background or an affinity for the ancient ways. Paradoxically, we find ancestors listed from other ethnicities and religions.

The Prophet Mohammad often appears in Western royal lines, as do the emperors of the Han Dynasty, Attila the Hun, Turks, Khazars, and Xiongnu shamans of Siberia. We share roots with the Basque, Moors, Turks, Pashtun, and sub-Saharan Africa. A balanced approach to the heritage will not obsess on particular areas of the lineage to the exclusion of others, nor veer off into cos-play like fantasies of legendary beings. Genealogy shows your multi-ethnic heritage as well as a range of spiritual beliefs.

‘Messianic complex’ describes the phenomenon where individuals claim self-awareness of their proclaimed role as a ‘savior’.
Like those who claim to be Jesus, non-religious “Magdalene addicts” are prone to channeling her, or even claiming to be her. But most of these channelings are highly idealized and full of truisms.

The phenomenon is a complicated psychological problematic developed within a cultural group. In Jungian psychology a complex is a cluster of psychological energy that centers around a particular element that has developed partly through the disposition of a personality and partly through life experience (Jacobi). These energy clusters act as partial personalities within the psyche and are often unconscious and somewhat autonomous.

They don’t reflect the deeply Gnostic belief in the evil of matter, the drive to perfection, or the demonic dominion of the Archons. Or, if they do embrace such ideas, they likely heard it on some internet show from a highly idiosyncratic speaker, invariably trying to sell his or her book. Somehow they all have a theory.  But no one has made good on such claims yet.

They may be the victims of misguided inner authority. We can pick up misconceptions and self-delusions in the search for the soul. The faddish appearance of such identifications (a lived trance-state) is a social trend, and the meme-like nature of the Feminine proclamations reveal that this is a collective phenomena, not true individuation. It shows the collective influence of pop culture and the archetype on the psyche, no matter what you call “Her”.

A relationship with the archetype can be primitive or sophisticated. James Hillman expands the concept of complex by adding a concept called personification to individual complexes, treating complexes as characters or entities within the psyche, with the proviso that it is not meant to be literal.

Jung’s complexes and James Hillman’s concept of personification permit the unconscious images to converse with the individual psyche in ‘imaginal dialogue‘. They manage to incorporate feelings, imagination, and metaphor, which other sciences reject.

Sociological identification, including intense physical reactions, and relationships between the body and the psyche, can be independent of linear historical inheritance in a culture that is a product of ideas rather than location or blood inheritance and also experimental. Emergent imaginal content is metaphor for thinking about experience, including experiences tied to intense belief structures.

When you don’t know what a symbol is, it appears split-off, as ‘other’. It attempts to enter consciousness in the expressive arts. Collectively, spiritual conflict is worldview warfare — irreconcilable differences in belief, including the structure of the Cosmos. But only creative emotional and cognitive comprehension of the inherent meaning of experience leads to individuation and self-realization — the Grail.

Jung spoke of such creativity:

“The creative process has feminine quality, and the creative work arises from unconscious depths–we might say, from the realm of the mothers. Whenever the creative force predominates, human life is ruled and molded by the unconscious as against the active will, and the conscious ego is swept along on a subterranean current, being nothing more than a helpless observer of events.

The work in process becomes the poet’s fate and determines his psychic development. It is not Goethe who creates Faust, but Faust which creates Goethe….The archetypal image of the wise man, the saviour or redeemer, lies buried and dormant in man’s unconscious since the dawn of culture; it is awakened whenever the times are out of joint and a human society is committed to a serious error.

When people go astray they feel the need of a guide or teacher or even of the physician. These primordial images are numerous, but do not appear in the dreams of individuals or in works of art until they are called into being by the waywardness of the general outlook.

When conscious life is characterized by one-sidedness and by a false attitude, then they are activated–one might say, ‘instinctively’–and come to light in the dreams of individuals and the visions of artists and seers, thus restoring the psychic equilibrium of the epoch.” (Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul).

Every creative person is a duality or a synthesis of contradictory aptitudes. On the one side he is a human being with a personal life, while on the other side he is an impersonal, creative process…The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man’ in a higher sense–he is ‘collective man’–one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being.”


Emotionally appealing truths are sandwiched into idiosyncratic notions ranging from the speculative to the fantastical, and trap many individuals like flypaper, because our minds love a good story. The brain feeds on stories, but the wrong stories just lead us down the garden path into ancient worlds that never happened, and mythic scenarios that were never meant to be taken literally. Accepting such beliefs uncritically is precisely the opposite of what Jung recommended as individuation.

Such false beliefs tend to cluster around an individual’s personal issues and complexes, but are mistaken for and confounded with historical, philosophical and scientific ‘reality’. Much of the “self-delusion” can be linked to exposure to memes functioning as emotional strange attractors or cultural artifacts or fallout,, as well as pre- and pseudo-scientific notions of by-gone centuries, and lack of understanding of standards and discernment.

The self-narrative may not match the reality. It’s a truism that mediocrity (gaps and gaffs in awareness) boasts the loudest. Through hysteria, lack of critical judgment, and naive enthusiasm, a false idea can be hyped by the mainstream media to the point of not only looking entirely plausible, but even certain.

A world view is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world. Everyone has a world view, whether he can explain it or not. It can be likened to a pair of glasses through which one views the world. It is important to have the right prescription, or reality will be distorted. Modem man is faced with a supermarket of world views; all of them claim to represent reality, but they are points of view about reality — mental constructs, beliefs.

To construct our own worldview we are still confronted with the old formula – the cosmological creative and destructive cycles of time. Cosmology is the study of the origin and nature of the universe.  Ontology studies the nature of being as being and existence.
  We have to fit the pieces together from epistemologies and psychodynamics into some sort of cumulative understanding. Some basic epistemological agreement about the phenomena under examination is needed. Metaphysics abstracts universal conceptions. Some of these grand narratives are more fanciful than others.

We can be sincerely convinced of the utterly wrong. Why do we continue to accommodate the irrelevant and easily falsifiable? Are we conscientious about our own self-delusions or simply unconsciously immersed in them due to a delusional perspective on our own misguided “gnosis” and obsessions with misguided theoretical perspectives? Even conscience is no ineffable guide to inner authority. There is no shortage of new myths to capture our attention. Dreams tell us who we are, collectively and individually.

If Inner Authority is linked to authentic power and wisdom, we need to examine our personal interaction with inner wisdom figures (archetypes) and values in order to create lives of positive action that arise from deep inner wisdom. Most of us shirk such important inner work, substituting a fantasy of transformation and mindfulness. Delusional self-improvement projects are aimed at adorning the ego.

People claim to hear messages that ring in their hearts as truth, or ‘resonate’ with material that confirms their own tacit or recognized beliefs, but most it originates in cultural conditioning and memetic patterning. All we hold is a piece of the Mystery. Buzzwords such as True Nature, intentionality, and mis-identified integrity compound the situation. Premature spiritual fixation can just as readily be a form of transcendental escapism.

Both the strategies of “transcendence” and “reduction” are expressions of bad faith — i.e., forms of self-deception and escapism that seek to deny the realities of the human existential situation. Self-delusion may be self-evident but few give themselves a reality check on it and doing so is compounded by our own psychological blindspots. This is a form of escapism or neo-mythology.

The depth psychological approach is about psyche, which brings with it a sense of the sacred. It is a way of incorporation that assimilates what has been considered the “Not-I” into the core of being. It is informed by the Hero’s Journey and many of the iconic tropes of the royal genealogical lines. Archetypal psychology has experience dealing with parental images and ego development, as well as life passages that might intertwine with genealogical interest and the predictable crises such as childbearing, mid-life, aging and confronting mortality.

Jungians claim that, “A psychologically-oriented approach to spirituality and a new God-image are emerging alongside the Judeo-Christian tradition. This form of spirituality expresses itself from the depths of the psyche, and stresses personal experience rather than belief or sacred texts. Depth psychology gives us a contemporary way to express this evolving step in the history of religious consciousness. Sometimes a new language enables things to be said that have yet to be articulated, and depth psychology is providing this voice.”

Traditional ideas about God and religion do not always express the individual’s personal spirituality, because one may experience the sacred in ways that are not fully articulated in the traditional teachings. For people who are committed to a traditional religious practice, depth psychology can deepen their relationship to the tradition and their understanding of its archetypal underpinning. (Corbett)

Ancestors & Archetypes, 2015 new

•August 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment



Facing Your Ancestors

Descent From Antiquity
Families are bound together eternally. The power of genealogy is the power of story. This is  the story of the family and the diverse characters that populate the many branches of our family tree. These are stories that matter, that preceded your corporeal existence. This story reveals how things came to be as they are — as you are.

Genealogy is a story we tell ourselves about ourselves. The stories of our ancestors open us to deeper experience. Our personal story is embedded in our larger inherited story and culture. Genealogy helps us connect more deeply with our unique story and meaning in life beyond a personal story. It is a mythic archaeology that connects us with that which has given us shape, opening a path to transformation.

Genealogy is the narrative of a pre-modern world. It has its roots in the ancient theogeny of gods and goddesses, divine-king lists and The Bible. Ancestral gods and ancestral religions developed over eons and are as old as particular branches of mankind — gods of the blood. Astrologically determined gods and goddesses can often be found at the roots of dynastic houses. Royal houses claimed power through descent from ancestral gods.

Gods are difficult to destroy or conceal. Fictitious lines of descent blend indistinguishably with medieval forgeries. Some divinities may originally have been historical persons or war-chiefs, now lost to the mists of pre-history. Seedlines codify ancient ethnic identity and empires. Later, royals added them to their lines to bolster their claims to divine rule and the founding of thrones. Genealogy was a geographical and spiritual compass.

When Rome Christianized in the fourth century, it cut off the mythic corpus, and demoted gods to human status and allegories. The medieval period filled the gap with tales of the Holy Grail. The pagan content of mythology was codified in the mid-fourteenth century in Boccassio’s Genealogy. Later, the Carolingians used such works to justify their right to rule, also citing the spurious Donation of Constantine, which the Church used to justify the appointment of rulers.

Traditional genealogy considered these mythological inclusions best-practice, yet it may be more of a psychic than historical “fact” — the product of a collision between pagan and Christian societies and their reconciliation. Historical time required a linear descent, even if it masked pagan roots at the theological fringe. Even if medieval genealogies connecting ancient kings to Adam are pure invention, they retain certain psychic values that are part of the archaeology of the collective unconscious.

The Tree of Life
Our personal genealogy is a process of self-discovery and self-knowledge with its own procedures and measures of ‘truth.’ It seems ironic that technology is allowing us to retrieve such essential aspects of our own humanity. Curiously, genealogy is the second most popular online subject, second only to sex, much like sex precedes procreation.

Your family tree is an encyclopedia of human nature. Genealogy doesn’t give our lives context; it is the context and material ground of our existence. The Tree of Life carries the evolution of the world, gives life to the universe, and understanding or consciousness. Life originates from and disappears back into the Tree. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life is a symbol of the process of creation and inner wholeness.

Jung said (CW5, para321) that, “The tree of life may have been, in the first instance, a fruit-bearing genealogical tree, and hence a kind of tribal other.” It was a central symbol of spiritual unity, wisdom, beauty, love, strength, and the power of the Universe rooted in the divine. Nietzsche pointed out that as with both people and trees, “The more one seeks to rise into height and light, the more vigorously do one’s roots struggle earthward, downward into the dark, the the deep — into evil.”

The tree is an early symbol of spiritual development and our own immortal character, the living structure of our inner self — transcendence to lofty heights. Below the surface, the subtext remains, “Who is this person having these experiences?” We are literally and symbolically the “fruit” of the Tree of Life. We need a powerful new story for our relationship with the Earth: we are, indeed, part of nature and not separate from it in any way. Genealogy helps ground us in this paradigm and helps develop our sense of deep time and rootedness in contemporary life with a global perspective.

The World Tree
Within 5-7 generations our family tree meets up and merges with the World Tree. This is especially true for American Colonial descent, where the progenitors and their droplines are well-known. Once you research back to your Gateway Ancestors who immigrated, you can easily find the lines that connect back as far as professional genealogists have determined and merge even further with fictional, legendary and mythological characters.

Outside of genealogy, the World Tree is often related to shamanism. As a link to ancestral spirits, it is an integral part of the shamanic cosmology. The World Tree is a bridge that connects heaven, earth and underworld. When a shaman “climbs the tree,” he or she ascends into the Upper World and the creative sources of power — to the gods, to the zenith of heaven. The philosophical tree represents a sublimation of our spirit. The shaman receives intercessory messages.

In some ways the World Tree is identical with the shaman. Creatures can appear in the Tree, including snakes, birds, goats, and other totems and signs. The World Tree is a tree of initiation, ordeals, astral or mystic flight, vision quest, and fate or destiny. The shaman mediates between humanity and the spirit world, and in a simpler way, the genealogist performs a similar symbolic service, especially when interpreting a pedigree. To be cut off from the sacred tree is to be cut off from the spirit world, a condition which is likened to ‘illness’ and requires healing for loss of soul.

The serpents in our Tree are the individual lines of descent from various common ancestors. They lead us to question who and what we are, what we know, and what we thought we knew about our roots. They offer us Knowledge. They are part of the larger truth — that we are born and we die — and we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Yet, Jung said we fear our serpent as we fear the numinosum. He concludes, “All we have to give the world and God is ourselves as we are.”

Good and evil unite in the growth of the Tree. It combines masculine phallic representations with feminine nurture and growth. We are the serpent of wisdom, the union of good and evil, in our own Tree. Genealogy is a ritual in which we climb up and down through the branches of our tree in deep remembrance, an exercise in ‘time travel’ that expands our consciousness.

Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell wrote exhaustively on this Tree as the center of the world, a vertical World Axis or dimension that symbolizes the capacity for non-ordinary experience, including shamanic trance that reinforces community links with cosmic consciousness. The Sacred Tree as such a center is potentially everywhere. The drum, like the heartbeat of the community is a means of climbing the tree and contacting the spirits. Campbell called the cosmic tree a wish-fulfilling, fruitful symbol of fertility, regeneration, and immortality.

We need to know that we have a history of continuity  that is profound. Our bloodline is our connection to Creation. We follow the steps created by the bodies and minds of the past. Our artform goes back to antiquity and is the measure of man. In this way we penetrate our own unknown origins and the culture of our ancestors. We think, feel, remember, and imagine. Memory is  a form of imagination.

As existentially powerful as science or religion, genealogy can expand our worldview and help us weave our own coherent narrative. It helps us unravel our emotional inheritance. Sometimes what the forebearers did somehow becomes our story. We can re-imagine the whole planet as our ancestral lands. It helps us grasp how we are holistically embedded in a vast seamless web of life, a world alive with cosmic spirit, as counterpoint to death, tragedy, destruction, and despair.

Reading our genealogical lines is ultimately a heuristic process — one requiring deep research and circumspect interpretation. But, connecting with the vitality of our lineage — the living sap of the Tree — elevates the mind and sublimes the thought. It is less about a “me generation” story than a grand “story of us” that ranges beyond illusions of time, space, and ego. We can cultivate the Elysian Fields of our ancestors to good effect. Thus, genealogy can be a transformative art. The Grail is a Mystery and the search for it a Quest for self-actualization, a way of initiation.

If we are too literal about it, we see only a string of corpses. But if we truly assimilate our heritage, we alter it creatively and give life to it through our individual understanding. We can bring our genealogy into meaningful dialogue with artistic and cultural disciplines. Genealogy is arguably one of the most “grounding” activities in which we can participate. From this fertile ground springs the acorn of the soul. It’s an old Platonic and Jungian idea that the soul picks the father and mother of the child…and thereby the direct ancestors.

The ancestors are the symbolic and material ground of our being. Psyche is not in us; we are in it which is everywhere. Jung pointed out in Letters Vol. II that without psyche we can neither know nor believe. We learn to center, reflect, and listen to voices within. The Great Work of genealogy is a small price to pay for turning the unconscious lead of uprootedness into the psychological gold of knowing one’s true origins.

We live in relative autonomy but remain enmeshed in the epigenetic memories of our particular family. Our rich descent is about NOW, as much or more than it is about what has gone before. Our personal mythology is shaped in our formative years. The ancient myths live on in the stories we tell about our own lives. The old gods are there in spirit in our triumphs and struggles. Myths pertain to the primordial gods and goddesses, while legend is about historical human heroes.

Our life stories are personal myths that emulate the characters and themes found in old myths. We act on mythic archetypes without knowing we are doing it. We choose our identity as well as the shape and direction of our lives through such such scripts. When we resonate with our ancestors, it helps us make sense of our own lives.

We are cast in the natural form and and semblance of those who came before us. We must each answer the call of the Ancestors to the adventure of self-discovery in our own way. Group approaches generally devolve into the lowest common denominator, as Jung describes. We can approach our lineage in the spirit of individuation. In the genealogical matrix of personalities, each ancestor has a potential effect on our consciousness. Naturally, that potential will not be realized in full because many of our ancestral lines will stub out sooner or later in the dead ends of unknown individuals and lost family lines.

The Royal We
Because they were recorded better for historical and other reasons, noble and royal lines are more available. Anyone tracing to royal roots will meet and share the same medieval pool of progenitors — the “usual suspects.” It is only natural to identify with some more than others, depending on how we resonate with their stories, for good or evil. In Letters Vol. II, Jung said, “We think it is enough to discover new things, but we don’t realize that knowing more demands a corresponding development of morality.”

We may find ourselves in a participation mystique, or project our feelings onto them, or even become ‘possessed’ or fascinated by certain individuals and their qualities or deeds. For example, The Da Vinci Code fad has produced a group of fantasists riveted to alternative stories of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, while ignoring even their most recent ancestors, who are probably as, or more influential psychologically-speaking. In the worst cases such unconscious identification can lead to dissociation, ‘possession,’ and dysfunctionality. In an ideal world, genealogy supports maintaining our basic integrity, giving new meaning to “knowing who we are,” and how deeply we are tied to self, world, and others.

Some people even develop compensatory personas based solely on such spurious connections. Our interpretations of our genealogy may lead to a lowering (abaissment) of consciousness, while others expand awareness. But we cannot retrieve the worldviews of pre-literate, agrarian or feudal societies to solve today’s problems of the information age and global society. The problem compounds when we try to grasp the functional realities of ancient civilizations and cultures. What we do experience is our fantasy images of what those individuals and times might have been like. Images are the basic experience of psyche. These images are our prima materia.

Personal Mythology
In The Interior Dialogue (2009), Stanley Krippner describes personal mythology as “… an approach to personal transformation using the development of participants’ personal stories about existential human issues for self healing and personal growth. There are also cultural, institutional, ethnic, and familial myths which influence our personal myths.

We use our stories as personal myths. Often they can be found through our dreams, where we are often informed long before we know intellectually. There are four factors that influence personal myths: biology, culture, interpersonal experiences, and transpersonal experiences and how to work with them. By identifying, evaluating, and transforming dysfunctional myths, beliefs, and worldviews, and working with them you can transform them.”

We live in a time of many competing mythologies. Genealogy can help us clarify personal, characterological, and familial issues. Our genealogy becomes a psychologically constructed reality. We have no real experience of ancestral habits of thought and expression nor by-gone eras of strife, order and disorder. Sentimentality, nostalgia, and confabulation are poor substitutes. Others spout idiosyncratic doctrines or cliche prophecies based on their so-called supernatural connections. Such raw mythologizing is a far cry from the aesthetic pursuit of personal mythology, as described by Krippner, and others.

Your Genealogical exploration is an archetypal Journey during which you travel back into the worlds inhabited by your ancestors. Some people are rationally motivated to find and preserve their lineage for the family. Others are emotionally driven by conscious and unconscious needs. Those who take a religious approach will emphasize legendary ‘holy blood’ aspects. Those who are fascinated with myths and tales may embrace them as ‘real.’
We can often not put a face to our ancestors, but we can give them back their names, and thus FACE our ancestors in the most direct way possible, with honor and respect.

We create our own ultimate narrative of our genealogical story based on our self-image, beliefs and worldview. Because the ‘spiritual’ romantics embrace connections others consider ‘false’ or non-historical, the rationalist genealogists have moved toward removing or cutting off lines they consider ‘fictional’. But they cannot cut off the deep root of the collective unconscious for which these ancient ideas are ‘real.’ For example, immortality may not be ‘real’, but our unconscious behaves as if it is so. The unconscious believes in immortality, even if we don’t.

There is a simple solution to this polarization. Taking a psychological approach to the family and world tree de-literalizes the legendary and mythic lines. We can simply retain their fructifying and life-giving potential without making them into unsupportable ‘facts.’ Jung said, “mythological motifs are ‘facts;’ they never change; only theories change,” (Letters II, p. 191). We can’t deny their existence by pruning them from the World Tree.

Archetypal psychology has worked with such material to provide a viable model for approaching the integration of these ancient figures into our conscious lives. If we apply the methods, we cannot fail to discover archetypal motifs. It isn’t a system as much as a way of “seeing through.”

If we apply depth psychology methods conscientiously, we can avoid most of the literalization, projection, and ego inflation that affects many amateur genealogists who fail to comprehend the material in a way that reflects best-practice. Instead our approach to the “as if” real portions of the pedigree is poetic and deliteralized, and doesn’t seek to retrieve the past as much as live more fully with it. We can “evoke” and “constellate” such material within the hermetically sealed process of Jungian Genealogy.

In one sense, all these lives are yours, but not in the individual new age sense of past lives. You will meet characters of all psychological types, and perhaps re-member your passed lives: villains and heroes, the famous and infamous, saints and sinners, priests and warriors, fair maidens, bastards and bold knights, kings and queens, genius and psychopaths, and a host of supporting ancestors. And they will all be your gr-grandparents.

We may judge, deny, or reject some ancestors while having an instinctive rapport with others. They help us reveal our shadow traits as well as self-actualizing capacities. In most cases they lived in a far more challenging world in which to survive, much less thrive. Their lives can inform and inspire us. The trail back through history can be followed in our lines of descent. History becomes personal. Your sense of time, depth, and intimacy expands. Our whole being, our whole body is an intergenerational as well as personal memory down to the cellular, genetic, and epigenetic level.

If to ‘worship’ is to show honor or give devotional attention or adoring regard, then in genealogy we can ‘worship’ our ancestors, without taking that too literally. We can respect, honor, and attend without being consumed in the labyrinthine matrix of the dead or in their many conflicts, infidelities, and vile deeds. We can view the sketchier, legendary parts of our pedigree with an imaginal eye.

Deities and Demigods
This is not concretized personal genealogy, over burdened by the literalized personal conflicts and traumas of the family system. Neither a lie nor a fantasy, it is our underlying archetypal genealogy, without the suffocating pressures of personal genealogy. This allows psychic movement within the archetypal possibilities and situations behind their images. Are Uranus, Aphrodite, Hercules, Isis, and Odin really our “ancestors”? Such deities and demigods represent our transpersonal potential. Are they really in our blood, or the roots of the psyche?

This is the traditional way of showing forth the ancient shared connection with our common roots — with the collective unconscious, including the gods and goddesses that appear at the foundation of our genealogies. We learn the family trees of godforms in school, but not their specific relationships to our drop lines. Many of the deities are related in more than one way. Stories of gods and creation are not just about the past. They are about us now.

Ancestral Braiding
Our ancestral lines braid together through marriages and migration. Our histories are woven together in cross-cousin and foreign marriage bridges. Long royal genealogies include nearly every war and clash of cultures throughout history. You will have progenitors on both sides of many battles. There will be persecutors and victims, even genocides. While bordering on factual our historical gleanings may or may not be accurate.

We may find it hard to absorb that whole timeline of human turmoil at such a personal level. It takes time to digest and integrate as the actual stories of your ancestors, especially when they fade into myth and legend. They may not be historical facts, but psyche has its own facts and effects on our beliefs and behaviors. Genealogy reflects the psychic facts of our protracted existence. Psychic realities are expressions of soul cultivated by imagination.

Tracing one’s lines becomes a meditational activity. Finding the homes and stories of ancestors helps us flesh them out and imaginally travel back to their times and places. Many of these simple tasks have the ritualistic effect of helping us grow closer to the ancestors — to those whose names we can now readily recite and place.

One’s entire pedigree symbolizes the totality of the Self and its transcendent nature. But no one can integrate the wholeness of the entire self because that would limit it. Jung said, “in reality its experience is unlimited and endless.” Biologically, we do not contain or express the genes of all of our ancestors, and our specific combination that does manifest is what makes us unique individuals.

Ritual, Dreams, and Imagination
We can expand our awareness further with ‘dream genealogy.’ Jung said, “In the deepest sense, we all dream not of ourselves, but out of what lies between us and the other.” We can gather information about our ancestors in our reveries, dreams and shamanic journeys. ‘Big dreams’ can reveal elusive family history. By entering the world of the ancestors, we tap our deep unconscious, collective memories, intuition, vision, and wisdom.  Lucid Dreaming and Dream Walking have been used by some to open ancestral connections.

Rituals, such as a simple ancestral altar, to more elaborate enactments or recitals are an option. More than faith, habit or even magic, Jung saw rites as psychologically effective symbolic acts, “giving expression to the archetypal expectation of the unconscious.” “Rites give satisfaction to the collective and numinous aspects of the moment, beyond their purely personal significance.” (Letters II, p.208-210)  Acts of imagination can also be seen as rituals that enrich our perceptions.

We can edit or amend our family story as we gain a more accurate understanding our lines and the past. We are a ripple on the ocean of this past experience. We can move systematically back in time or take quantum leaps into other realities. Other optional methods include hypnosis or even word association. Those with “Second Sight” will draw from those experiences while others try to foster that ability. Perhaps one of the most productive techniques we can use is the dialogical method, such as that outlined by Ira Progoff in his works on journaling.

Some seek answers to questions, while others seek only the Mystery in the darkness. We connect with something greater than ourselves, finding more than we know. Art integrates the material and spiritual. Artistic expression in all forms is another way to let the ancestors in, to give them a voice or presence — to receive a blessing or healing. Genealogy is an evolving construction of our inner reality.


Whole Person Transformation

•December 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment


Individual consciousness is only the flower and the fruit of a season, sprung from the perennial rhizome beneath the earth; and it would find itself in better accord with the truth if it took the existence of the rhizome into its calculations. For the root matter is the mother of all things.” — C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation
Whole Person Transformation

A perennial theme of humankind, transformation as a basic change in character, cognition, and direction has been explored in religion, psychology and art. Rites of passage, as a summons to wisdom, can include a psychological and sacred dimension. It addresses the question of how a person finds a personal path worthy of the soul. We’re taught to strive for this mythic “thing” at the physical, mental, and spiritual level. Transformation is thorough, radical and dramatic — a power that can be deployed for good or ill.

Classically, ‘transformation’ describes the path from initiation to liberation from social conformity, helping us let go of the worn out to find deep dialogue with psyche, adventure and renewed life. The process is mediated by symbols and imagery. If they arise organically ego is transformed; if they are imposed ego is hijacked. Solitude is the furnace of authentic transformation. Personal growth is an individual process of self-determination. In this sense, it is incompatible with group programming. But the real self as divergent perceptions and dynamic understanding of interrelationships is dangerous to tradition, the church, the state, and the crowd.

In psychology, transformation has been curiously defined as “the procedure used when unconscious desires or urges are costumed in order to emerge in consciousness.” Psychobiological transformation is a key theme in depth psychologies. It begins at the point where there is no hope and lead through overwhelming challenges, fraught with depression, fragmentation, resistance, symptoms, pain and anxiety. We are at our most vulnerable at the threshold of transformation.

The key to personal transformation is story transformation. It is symbolic, life-changing — a massive reorganization of attitudes, behaviors, and meaning. Metamorphosis is the classic metaphor of major life passages and restructuring. Latent potentials emerge and outworn characteristics decline. Some qualities are hidden until our true nature is revealed as a new form of life and self-identity.

Imaginal psychology urges us to move beyond the monotheistic myth of self-domination by the abstract concepts of a rational heroic ego, self, or god. James Hillman noted the ego too is an image. It makes problems to solve them with will and intentionality, but that is an illusory perspective. Consciousness is not based on concepts of ego or self, though it has been identified as such. Archetypes generate the transformational images and the universal material of myth and drama, but they bear the mark of personal and cultural conditioning. They provide archaic and timeless meaning.

Hillman dubs ego a “myth of inflation”, not the secret key to the development of consciousness, but a source of fallacies, defining its literal fantasies as reality. In A Blue Fire (pg. 34), he suggests, “placing in abeyance such metaphors as: choice and light, problem solving and reality testing, strengthening, developing, controlling, progressing.” He condemns new age insistence on transformation – sloughing off the old self and interpretive schemes for an idealization that is essentially another self-delusion.

Jung (CW 12, par. 32) cautioned that we must be alone to find out what it is that supports us when we can no longer support ourselves. Only this experience, he said, gives us an indestructible foundation. “Individuation and collectivity are a pair of opposites, two divergent destinies. They are related to one another by guilt.” He concludes, “we must be able to stand alone vis a vis the unconscious for better or worse.” (Letters, Vol 1, p. 458-459) Jung also notes, “Individuation is just ordinary life and what you are made conscious of.” (Letters, Vol. 1, pg. 442) It isn’t rare, but it is a move toward self-actualization or self-realization.

The path from the oblivious to self-aware life is beset with obstacles. How do we know what a genuine transformative experience is? We transform ourselves by every act of self-knowing. Jung felt that self-realization was a natural process of transformation, orchestrated by the unconscious. The infinite depth of dynamic reality informs our worldview and personal sovereignty. Such is the journey of meaningful solitude into silence, ratified by the perennial wisdom.

Krishnamurti said, “To stand alone is to be uncorrupted, innocent, free of all tradition, of dogma, of opinion, of what another says, and so on. . . .What matters is to understand for oneself, not through the direction of others, the total content of consciousness, which is not conditioned, which is the result of society, of religion, of various impacts, impressions, memories — to understand all of that conditioning and be free of it. But there is no “how” to be free. If you ask ‘how’ to be free, you are not listening.”

Kahlil Gibran claimed, “Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.” Yogananda suggests that self-realization is “to know truth through yourself, and not through others.” Ramana Maharshi says, “your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”

The Dalai Lama says, “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” Rumi was poetic: “I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” Hermann Hesse and others, such as Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman, echo this approach in their own writings.

Hesse felt that, “We must become so alone, so absolutely alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for in our innermost soul, we know ourselves to be one with all beings.”

“Transformation connotes a more-or-less dramatic shift in the context of an individual’s meaning system, beyond any attempts to re-brand or commercialize the field. Real transformation takes place in the furnace of the heart. However, institutional transformation can mean an imposed or enforced social change. In McLuhan’s vernacular, the “invisible” environment of new technologies creates an “erosion”, not enhancement, of the conscious and unconscious — by means of “audience as workforce.” We unconsciously conform to such environments. The subconscious works on emotion. Business strategy is transformed into emotion.

Transformation is a model of a process. In this theory, personal and social transformation promotes self-actualization and compassionate service. Radical change involves new habits, range of emotions, and worldview — concerns, interests, goals, ambitions, and behaviors. A reordering of values can change the basis of self-identity. Significant transformation can mean a radical reorganization of one’s identity, meaning, and purpose in life — a turning point — transformations of earlier worldviews. Embodied transformation sustains over time. Wisdom to know the difference between one’s ego and one’s Self is embodied in your individuality.

Or, does holistic repatterning just mean structural transformation of old elements into a new configuration in the internal landscape — a restructuring of psychic space? Only a profound change in structure creates something new. Infiltrated consciousness is such a result, changing how we perceive the world and act on those perceptions.

Organizational strategies and state or corporate coercive transformation don’t serve the individual. For them, imposed transformation means collaborative, consultative, directive and coercive manipulations. Ultimately, it means international competition and state formation. The state exerts coercion for control.

Iona Miller Frontier Science Articles

•September 18, 2014 • 1 Comment


Frontier Science

Enlightening Holograms

Published Articles Log
Holographic Archetypes
Science-Art, Chaos, Coincidence, Creation

Iona Miller

Quantum Brain-Mind Problem Examined

•September 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment
On the Quantum Aspects of Brain-Mind Problem
Iona Miller 2014
The brain-mind problem is also known as the mind-body problem and by extension mind-matter. How the mind relates to the brain has classically been discussed in terms of monism and dualism-that the mind and brain are one or that the mind and brain are separate. It has long been suggested that the brain functions as a sort of transducer from the universal to the particular. Quantum and sub -quantal phenomena may play an important part in the brain’s transducer function
.Further, our physical theories and narratives , rooted in philosophical notions about the interface of psyche and matter , also serve a symbolic function If the unconscious is a magical powerhouse that speaks in symbols, our notion of the unconscious is also a symbol of the power of the primal field.

On the Trail of the Grail

•September 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment


Finding Deeper Meaning in Genealogy
Ancestors, Legends, & Myths
Iona Miller, 2014

The ancestors are, of course, the archetypes — they are the psychological ancestors. In a really dangerous situation they may be quite real. –Jung

Today we have great difficulty with ancestors. We do not know what they are or how to enable them. Yet establishing a harmonious relation with these ancestors is crucial to our symbolic life. These
figures came long before us and will outlive us. Giving the ancestors that people our psyche the recognition they need is the only way their blessings can flow.

We can participate with the same living unconscious that was revered by our ancestors. Genealogy offers a way to connect with the deep, imaginal spirituality of our ancestors without appropriating from other cultures or crafting a new spirituality. We can reconnect to ancestors that trace their roots through our bloodlines.

The co-creative process of soul-making takes us out of our “only personal” ancestry and empowers the Ancestors. We break through the boundaries that separate our inner and outer lives. They create synchronistic fields around us that continually generate and store symbolic awareness. The seed of life conceals the geometry of creation. Imagination has its own way of knowing.

Experience of Ancestors as opposed to ancestry is central to the symbolic life and the transformation of cultural images, ideals and institutions. Genealogy helps us free ourselves from our primitive ancestors’ psychological enmeshment by giving form to their countless typical experiences. Our world is ‘haunted’ by the absence-presence of the ancestors. Rituals of our ancestors paid homage to the afterlife. Our ancestors also rest in the sacred landscapes of the psyche, not only in specific geographies. Psyche is not of today, but extends back many millions of years.

My Generation
In psychology, an archetype is the innate knowledge, images, or ways of thinking that are inherited from ancestors. During significant events (birth, death, disaster) human behavior takes on a typical form. In the archetype concept we mirror the emotions of our remote ancestors in how we act and react in these significant situations.
These architects of dreams and symptom speak through divination, myth and ritual enactment, offering a hidden language suffused with a sort of pre-rational verbal therapy that produces real and effective changes within us.

Descent From Antiquity
Our ancient Pagan ancestors had their pantheons of Gods & Goddesses. The gods are transpersonal or spiritual ancestors, as our traditional lines of descent show.
Many claimed ancestries are considered by modern scholars to be fabrications, especially the claims of kings and emperors who trace their ancestry to gods or the founders of their civilization. Some genealogists now cut off what are labeled as fictious or legendary roots.
Genealogy, legend and political prophecies played a crucial role in constructing the past in the service of royal power. Many royals
traced their lineage not only to the pagan gods but also to the priest-kings of the Old Testament.

Genealogy has an evolutionary history of its own. What scholars term a “defect” in such lines may not be so psychologically. There is no harm and maybe psychological benefit to maintaining such ties, so long as they are not taken literally. They are part of our personal origin myth. Royal descents from mythical heroes include, Odin, Titans, Aphrodite, Zeus, Hercules, Isis, Adam and Eve, Mary Magdalene and Jesus, Muhammad, Tamar Tephi, Scota, Beli Mawr. King Arthur, and more.

Archetypes, ancestors and allies form our mythic self.  The knowledge, but also the sins and wounds of our ancestors live within us.  There is a deep longing inside each of us for something our ancestors received, but that is missing now — the information that connects us to the whole — a creative relation to the figures of the deep psyche that people our imagination. Genealogy helps us enter that symbolic life.

We forget that the soul has its own ancestors. Archetypes are directly knowable as a product of the shared experiences of our ancestors. We relive the soul of the ancestors as primordial psyche, inherited from common ancestors in the distant human past. We can receive guidance in the dreamtime from archetypal ancestors. We do not only carry the genes of our ancestors; we also carry their memories. Jung said, underneath the modern surface of the mind lurks the original primitive mentality of our ancestors, complete with vivid stories and symbols that have a natural appeal to us and seem to appear unbidden in our dreams and fantasies.

To conduct our own personal research and to find out for ourselves, maybe all we need to do is listen to our inner DNA. The unconscious comprises in itself the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings. We can listen to the voices, feelings, sights and experiences of our ancestors. The land of the dead is the country of our ancestors and the images who walk in on us are our ancestors. They can be associated with the elements of nature. They exert their claim on us, and power over us — a sense of our internal fate — as psychic representations of our geographical, historical and cultural contexts.

We are under the influence of ancestors, archetypes, family and collective consequences. The achievement of consciousness by our distant ancestors is reflected in the hero or heroine’s journey. Active imagination isn’t new; our ancestors staring into the fire were exercising just this. The hero’s journey represents the primitive struggle of our ancestors in entering an unknown world of danger, but overcoming the danger and bringing back to the tribe or group some discovery or treasure that will benefit everyone.

Legacy of the Ancestors
Ancestors brings together genealogy, common mythological roots and psychology.
Our ancestors often use metaphors in order to make the issue clear. The “living serpents” of our descent lines can be used to invoke the ancestors. Genealogy is a form of veneration. The study of our ancestors is the study of the Tree of Life. An altar, for example, can honor your biological ancestors, the universal archetypal ancestors, or both.

The purpose of the totem meal, grail, or eucharist is to reunite the participants with the life of their ancestors. Their lives, joys and fears are within us. In this way, they are with us always. Our ancestors revered nature, but were also irrational and superstitious about it. We can still turn to nature for insight as our ancestors did for millennia. Most of us have lost touch with religious traditions of our ancestors;  we no longer connect with their sacred myths and metaphors. Genealogy is more direct, more personal.

Healing shifts occur through the conscious Feminine, Sophia, Wisdom, the divine feminine embodied in the world.  The exploits and mode of being of the great ancestors resonate, to a lesser degree, with our experience of dreaming.  The concealed and mysterious are as important as the revealed and understood. The ancestors are jealous; they want to be remembered. Remembering them is not just an empty custom, but imbued with meaning. The deeper meaning of much traditional healing centers on ancestor reverence.

Working your lines can be meditative, in and of itself. Concentration is an art.  When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol. Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do — it may be that they’re trying to give you a message.

When properly respected, they are benevolent guardians. Our search is answered by initiation
: the blessing of the elders.  We need our specific stories heard, in the context of the universal, by someone who speaks both linear and symbolic languages.  Great assistance comes from the lineage of elders who have passed it on, and from the “hard wiring” of archetypal patterns inside us all.  The ancestors are eagerly waiting to help us, if we ask.

Many old stories talk about how the teachings are lost, again and again, and must be rediscovered by each generation, and reshaped into the words that can be heard in the world that generation inhabits. In honoring them, we honor the principles and values they represent. Thus we find the heavenly city inhabited by the mythic forefathers, the ancestors who constitute a genealogy of current names. These “genealogies” are not strictly historical, but mythic and symbolic. There is no reason, however, why they should be seen as standing in opposition to history. These “genealogical” names are steeped in a numerical, linguistic, astronomical, rhythmical, cyclic, and magical meaning.

The tomb is a symbol of the unconscious as well as an alchemical vessel in which transformation occurs. Jung related it to the womb, suggesting the tomb is a place of the past that connects us with our deceased ancestors, a place from which the psyche is born, a connector to our psychic background. The tomb also represents the completion of circle as a place where we will ultimately rejoin the ancestors once more.

An exploration of the ways in which the ancestors, from the archetypal to the personal, influence us in the present and implicate us in lives of subsequent generations.

Mending the Ancestral Web
The known and unknown stories of our ancestors are present in our personal symptoms, disposition, split loyalties, aspirations, and the questions which inform our lives. Our ancestral and cultural legacies continue living in our bodies, through our relationships, in both matter and the timelessness of psyche. These legacies root us in the past and implicate us in the lives of the generations that will follow.

The ancestors, from the archetypal to the personal, influence us tody.  If our ancestors managed to overcome a multitude of problems, such as severe illnesses, wars, loss of loved ones or severe economic declines, we who are genetically similar can successfully are reminded we can overcome a multitude of problems.

Many spiritual practices and religions – particularly in native cultures and Asia – revolve around both the acceptance and, in many cases, the worship of ancestors. Even in western cultures there is an increased tendency to include ancestor and archetypal relationship methods into various therapies and self-help programs.

The exploration and eventual acceptance of your family and ancestors is important for emotional and spiritual grounding. Depending on your memories and/or your family history, your ancestors can be a gateway to bliss . . . or a reminder of failure and limitation. Either way, and whether you like it or not, however, these folks are still your family.

On a biological level we are our ancestors. We have their DNA, their predispositions for certain illnesses, and so on.
The ancestors companion us and bequeath to us their unfinished business. Likewise on a spiritual level, we have their “stuff” – their stories, memories, emotions, energy, and even behavioral tendencies. We are their continuation . . . and also their current expression in the physical world.

You and your ancestors are one and the same. We are
psychologically pre-conditioned by our ancestors in history, who shaped our complexes, fears and obsessions. You possess the wisdom and intelligence to become a full human being because you inherited an eternity of wisdom, not only from your blood ancestors but also from the wholeness of life itself.

Even if you do not believe in the spiritual aspect of ancestry, you have probably witnessed the handing down of traditions, upbringing, and temperament from parent to child within your family tree. Some of these things are wonderfully empowering, wise, and nourishing. Some of these things are also painful, ignorant, and destructive.

Simply by accepting the power of family and ancestors, you can break the harmful cycles that have been handed down. You can begin to heal old wounds and free yourself from behaviors and emotions that no longer serve you. You can even discover the most liberating emotion of all – forgiveness.  Developing a strong relationship with your ancestors is profoundly important, second only to your relationship with yourself.

Jung felt very strongly that he was “under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by [his] parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors.”  His differentiation of the collective unconscious into its various levels and his description of the nature of psyche provide a working model which allows us to see how our biography is part of a continuing story, part of a dynamic web of relations, which has its roots and telos in the stories of our ancestors and descendants.

“Everything psychic is pregnant with the future.” ~Carl Jung

For, in the last resort, we are conditioned not only by the past, but by the future, which is sketched out in us long beforehand and gradually evolves out of us. ~Jung, Analytical Psychology and Education, Page 110.

My soul — are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again.  Should I tell you everything I have seen, experienced, and drunk in? Or do you not want to hear about all the noise of life and the world? But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life. This life is the way, the long sought-after way to the unfathomable, which we call divine.
~Carl Jung; Red Book

Holy Blood, Holy Trail

•September 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment


A Mystery Wrapped in a Love Story
For those who can trace their ancestral lines back through centuries, the Grail Trail is a golden path back to medieval times, ancient times, & into the mists of myth and pre-history. Follow your Grail-Trail and see where it leads.

Ancestral Life Continues Within Us

Then turn to the dead, listen to their lament
and accept them with love.
” –C.G. Jung, The Red Book, Chapter XV

One of the key themes in ‘The Lament for the Dead’ is the denial of death by contemporary, secular Western culture. Our ancestors are not properly recognized and given their due weight – there is no real place for the dead in our culture.  Shamdasani says on p.176:
“The first task that Jung finds himself confronted with [as I think anyone engaged in this descent is] is reanimating the dead, acknowledging that the dead are, and they have presences, they have effects. We turn our eyes away from future-oriented living and to what has gone before, in the shape of animated history, history that is not simply a record but history that is active.”
Therefore, by denying the dead we are denying ourselves.

Jung believed
that the foundations of personality are ancestral and universal. Because much of genealogical best-practice includes mythic and fictional characters, the process is best approached with a Jungian orientation, rather than as hard historical fact, except where lines are clearly curated. In terms of collective unconscious, genealogy has “as if” psychic reality.

Jungian and post-Jungian practices allow us to interact with such material in a deeply meaningful way that helps us integrate such knowledge and self-knowledge, that enhances integration and individuation. Post-Jungians are committed to an approach that does not focus exclusively on psychic reality but also takes into account the realities of the outer world. Genealogy helps us adapt to both external or internal realities. This practice raises into conscious awareness what was formerly subconscious or unconscious — the lives of our direct ancestors.


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