Jungian Genealogy for Everyone
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.
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)