The House of Life

•March 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment


When Air Becomes Breath

Breathing Life Into Your Ancestors
The ancient Egyptian mystery school, the Per Ankh is the inspiration for a hermeneutic and healing approach to genealogy.
Every hermeneutical perspective constructs and reconstructs more or less coherent and meaningful pictures of the past, based on the particular spiritual needs and expectations of their real or imagined audiences. It is a soulful approach to psyche and our forebears and the mysteries of death, transformation, and spiritual rebirth, honoring soul and body.

The psychophysical approach is rooted in our being, land, water, and air, from our very first to our final breath — the fire of the breath of life. Psyche is that divine spark. Along the way, we are learning to live and learning to die with wisdom and meaning. Wisdom is not as concerned with a particular kind of thought, as a wisdom about thinking, and an analysis of what it means to think, and an inquiry into the nature of the ultimate reference of thought.

Our family tree is rooted in narrative and history which traces back to ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Biblical traditions, and spans continents and conflicts. We study the psychological and metaphysical meanings of the mythologies that anchor our longest lines of lineage. It includes mental activities, spiritual dimensions, methods, attitudes, practices, or even behavioral and ritual patterns that give us image and form.

The Transgenerational Effect
Our psychological approach is Transgenerational Integration.
Trans- is a prefix meaning: across, beyond, through, on the other side of, to go beyond, while state is a ​condition or way of being that ​exists at a ​particular ​time. It functions as a feedback loop acting across multiple generations, including transgenerational conflict.
Transgenerational trauma is transferred from the first generation of trauma survivors to the second and further generations of offspring. Some transgenerational consequences are epigenetic.

The hallmark of the transgenerational models of family therapy is their emphasis on the powerful influences that past generations have on the present. Unresolved conflicts, beliefs, and roles in an individual impact an individual’s relationships and interactions in his/her family of origin. They unconsciously continue to influence our current relationships and level of functioning. Healing across lifetimes is possible without any metaphysical model or belief in past lives or reincarnation, but within the genealogical model of direct descent and multigenerational influence.

So, the trans- state is, among other things, a coincidentia oppositorum. An alchemical wedding defines the fixed place, where boundaries are actively transgressed. In many ways, this very undertaking is where the role of the magician, mystic, artist, and healer collide. Down at the crossroads, where possibilities are collapsed into actualities, by the wondrous act of a conscious decision lies the place of suffering and surrender — of realization and redemption.

We seek, not only ancestors, but signs, symbols, and symbolic meaning — our origin in the foundation of being — with an eye to restoring sacred harmony and transformative connection to Cosmos, an indissoluble unity of potentiality and act, darkness and light. Systems of archetypal symbolism come from the mysteries of death, transformation, and spiritual rebirth, and related cosmogonical theories.

Many of these ideas had their roots in Egyptian philosophy. Philosophy is a rite of rebirth, the very essence of which is participation in divine reality and, therefore, its activities are primarily those of inner vision rather than mere logic.
The Tree of Life is a logically coherent meta-structure of metaphysical knowledge — its own body of wisdom. And it lives within us.

Per Ankh
Ankh is the Egyptian term meaning “life.”The hieroglyph ankh, originally perhaps representing a knot or a bow, is a symbol for divine life, for the “breath of life,” provided by Shu and other gods, and for regenerating the power of water.
Ankh also designates a floral bouquet (offered to the gods) and a mirror, itself an important metaphysical symbol., also seen in the sistrum and later the crux ansata.

Per ankh means the House of Life — a temple scriptorium and advanced school for esoteric training whose priests maintained an oral tradition of initiation and also produced writings in different branches of knowledge. This included theology, mathematics, ritual expertise, hieratic liturgy, hermeneutics, genealogy, astrology, sacred geography, mineralogy, medicine, mythography, architecture, the science of theurgic talismans and image-making.

The staff of every per ankh were lector-priests (heri heb) whose role was associated with sacred books and the heka-power, as well as with preservation of maat, the cosmic order, and maintaining the theurgic tradition of mystical ascent and assimilation to the gods.

Only through esoteric knowledge and initiation into the invisible realm, that is, through symbolic death and rebirth, accomplished in the House of Life, was one able to reveal one sakh-identity and be united with immortal divine principles. In the diagram of the per ankh (Pap. Salt 825) it is depicted as a symbolic mandala with Osiris at the center.

Isis and Nepthys occupy the corners at the side of his feet, Horus and Thoth are at the corners at the side of the head, Geb represents the ground, Nut–the sky. The priests of the House of Life follow “the secret way of Thoth.” One of the chief lector-priests (heri tep) said regarding the formula imbued with the heka-power: “Do not reveal it to the common man–it is a mystery of the House of Life.” (Pap. Leiden344r)

The House of Life was the center of cultural endeavor to preserve and ensure progress of cosmic, political, and social life. A holy place and scriptorium, The House of Life contained secret, magical writings the Egyptians believed had the power to renew and sustain life and further the rebirth of Osiris at his annual festival.

The significance of the House of Life and the rituals performed there was universal. Like the temples it stood for the whole creation, just as the reborn Osiris symbolized eternal life in general. According to tradition, time and again people went to the House of Life to consult ancient writings when they needed answers to problems of their day.

In ancient Egyptian writings and architecture, the House of Life was an institution aligned with kingship, preserving and creating knowledge in written and pictorial form. The overseer of the private rooms of the king, bore the title of ‘overseer of writing in the House of Life, a man to whom all sacred matters are revealed’, and ‘keeper of secrets of the House of Life.’

The ancient Egyptian civilization was strongly connected with nature and the Universe that surrounded them. The school of Abydos House of Life, attracted many healers in the course of time and was an important base of knowledge about healing and medicines. They knew mind and body were strongly connected. Therefore they created various ways to maintain a sound physical body. They analyzed the plants in their neighborhood and built various schools.

The Per Ankh, House of Life, is a solar temple of sacred science (mystery school) and an institution of learning, healing and training. The House of Life, (Per Ankh), is an organization of Egyptian Magicians, founded by the God of Learning, Thoth.

The Per-Ankh  texts were transcribed and kept by scribes, including the “books of the dead”. The House of Life was also a restricted access center of esoteric training where students may have undertaken a course of spiritual development, resulting in initiations into “various degrees of symbolic death and rebirth.”



•March 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment



Phenomenology indicates a way to research where we can be open to the phenomenon and to allow it to show itself in its fullness and complexity through our own direct involvement and understanding. Understanding arises directly from our personal sensibility and awareness. Direct contact creates an intimacy with the phenomenon through prolonged, firsthand exposure and immersion.

We meet the phenomenon in as free and as unprejudiced a way as possible so that it can present itself and be accurately described and understood. The hopeful result is moments of deeper clarity in which we see the phenomenon in a radically fresh and fuller way.

Phenomenological intuiting requires discipline, patience, effort and care. It requires utter concentration on the object intuited without being absorbed in it to the point of no longer looking critically or falling into blind spots.

Through intuiting, we hope to experience a moment of insight in which we sees the phenomenon in a clearer light. Phenomeno­logical disclosure is “the aha! experience,” “revelatory seeing,” or “pristine encounter.” Through phenomenological disclosure, we hope to see the thing in its own terms and to feel confident that this seeing is reasonably correct.

Consciousness, Behavior & Experience
Our personal efforts, experiences, and insights are the central means for examining the phenomenon and arriving at moments of disclosure so the phenomenon reveals something about itself in a new or fuller way.
Generally, phenomenological intuiting involves a series of smaller and larger disclosures that slowly coalesce into a fuller apprehension of the phenomenon.

In this sense, intuiting is rarely a single moment of revelation in which understanding comes in one full swoop. Instead, intuiting is gradual and unpredict­able. Through our wish, effort, and practice,  we see the phenomenon in smaller and larger ways. Patterns, relation­ships, and subtleties gradually arise that we never noticed before. Phenomenological intuiting is a flow and spiral, with unpredictability and serendipity.

We must begin somewhere and intends to end somewhere. Thus there is a movement, a progression, and eventually, an arrival. But, this movement isn’t a straight, sequential process. We see it more in terms of a flow, or of a cycling and spiraling motion. We can’t say where this flow begins. The first idea of trying to makes sense of something may evolve over the course of our genealogical research activity.

Uncharted Territory

The phenomenon is an uncharted territory that we attempt to explore, flexibly adapting to the nature and circumstances of the phenomenon. We must assume that we do not know the phenomenon but wish to, so we approach it as a beginner. We may know what we do not know, but need to consider that we may not know what we don’t know. We have no clear sense of what we will find or how discoveries will arise fluidly and unfold in a rich, unstructured, multidimensional way. A certain uncertainty and spontaneity must be accepted and creatively transformed into possibility and pattern.

We can use an existential and hermeneutic, as well as first-person approach, drawing on our realm of experience ‑- our own lived situation, setting aside preconceptions and biases. We examine specific characteristics and qualities and may become immersed in the process, its revelations and clarity. We become more perceptive, thus better able to articulate our experience. Emergent meaning arises from description and interpretation.

In genealogy the nature of ancestors is much more important for establishing the specific research procedure and descriptions, in a thoughtful, articulate way. Our specific methods and procedures fit the nature and needs of our own individual research style and the internal necessity that impels our impulses.

Our genealogy is a text imbued in some way with human meaning and therefore a subject for hermeneutic interpretation. We immerse ourselves in the process, get involved, and begin to discern configurations of meaning, of parts and wholes and their interrelationships.

We receive certain messages and glimpses of an unfolding development that beckons to be articulated and related to the total fabric of meaning. The hermeneutic allows the ancestors to be revealed to our eyes, ears, and intuition just by being what they are — to speak their own story into our understanding in the universal language of imagery and symbolism. We are the lived fabric of inescapable fleshly connectedness. A whole lifetime is imprisoned in each ancestral image, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys.

Interpretive Relativity

The issue of trustworthiness raises the question, what criteria can be used to establish the reliability of phenomenological descriptions and interpretations? Reliability first of all involves interpretive appropriateness.

How is it that we can say what we experience and yet always live more than we can say, so that we could always say more than we in fact do? How can we evaluate the adequacy or inadequacy of our expression in terms of doing justice to the full lived quality of the experience described?

How are thought and life interrelated so that they can be characterized as interdependent, as in need of each other, as complementing and interpenetrating each other? Living informs expression (language and thinking) and, in turn, thinking-language-expression reciprocally informs and gives a recognizable shaped awareness to living.

Reliability can only be had through intersubjective corroboration. Do other interested parties find in their own life and experience, either directly or vicariously, what we find in our own work? In this sense, our interpretations are no more and no less than interpretive possibilities or potentials.

The aim is an openness and empathy whereby we begin to sense the other’s situation and meaning. We can judge the trustworthiness of phenomenological interpretation from vividness, accuracy, richness, and elegance. Genealogical work is elegant because there is a clear interrelationship between real-world experiences and conceptual interpretation.

The Essence of Human Experience

In the end, this approach to genealogy is a highly personal, interpretive venture. In trying to see the phenomenon, it is very easy to see too much or too little. Looking and trying to see are very much an intuitive, spontaneous affair that involves feeling as much as thinking. In this sense, phenomenology might be described as a method to cultivate a mode of seeing with both intellectual and emotional sensibilities, for more whole and comprehensive understanding.

The genealogical work is born in a mysterious and secret way. It gains life and being. Its existence isn’t casual and inconsequential. It has a definite and purposeful strength, in its material and spiritual life. It exists and has power to create a spiritual atmosphere suitable for ancestral devotion. We adapt the form to its inner meaning. When it comes to the ancestors we can investigate general essences and watch modes of appearing.

When Lao-tzu says: “All are clear, I alone am clouded,” he is expressing what I now feel in advanced old age.

Lao-tzu is the example of a man with superior insight who has seen and experienced worth and worthlessness, and who at the end of his life desires to return into his own being, into the eternal unknowable meaning.

The archetype of the old man who has seen enough is eternally true. At every level of intelligence this type appears, and its lineaments are always the same, whether it be an old peasant or a great philosopher like Lao-tzu.

This is old age, and a limitation. Yet there is so much that fills me: plants, animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man.

The more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things.
In fact it seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me from the world has become transferred into my own inner world, and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself. ~Carl Jung;


•March 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Breath & Blood

by Iona Miller, 2016
Genealogy is a recorded history of a person or family’s descent from an ancestor or ancestors. Soul is spiritual or emotional warmth, force or evidence. These combine so that knowing your roots and connecting with family are good for the soul. Our ancestors are also symbols. Jung noted, “If one accepts the symbol, it is as if a door opens leading into a new room whose existence one previously did not know.”(Liber Novus, Page 311)

“I Am. Lo, I Am Alive”
Genealogy is a written testament to the endurance of the archaic — a historical epic of the flesh made word. Healing of the mind and body was practiced in prehistoric times and a vital part of it involved maintaining a living connection with the ancestors.

“Psyche” is Greek for soul, life, and breath; so psyche is Nature itself. Jung reminds us “nature is not matter only, she is also spirit,” — the Great Mother. If we repress nature, animals, creative fantasy, and the “inferior” or primitive side of humans, we depreciate the earth and lose our connection with nature and divinity.

Jung told Ira Progoff that, “individuation is the natural process by which a tree becomes a tree and a human a human.” He said that consciousness can just as well interfere with the natural growth process as aid it. We do not have a sense of living history.

Incorporating wisdom from the depths of the psyche, spans the archaic, natural, primordial, or original. Dissociation from our ancestors is unconscious dissociation from nature, our nature and the world soul. Rituals, such as genealogy, can help us reconnect, to awaken both spirit and nature to a new life — spanning modern and archaic.

This quest for self is the yearning for soul and the healing power of nature. Jung believed when we touch nature we get clean, that natural life is the “nourishing soil of the soul.When we search for our ancestors we search for soul. The collective unconscious is the well of souls.

When our soul is touched, we know what we are here for. Our whole purpose and destiny is just to be. We do not need to lose the mystery by pretending to a knowledge that we do not have. If we just stay with the process, living the soul, our genealogy unfolds with our life’s journey and meaning. The streaming continuity of life becomes clear in our lineage. Our ancestral legacy is the ancestral continuum or ancestral field.

We can listen to the voices, feelings, sights and experiences of our ancestors. The land of the dead is the country of our ancestors. The images who walk in on us are our ancestors, ordinary and extraordinary. Genealogy is a tangible path to the soul and the sacred. In genealogy we have to go through the personal to get to the transcendent. Genealogy is a living mythology organically relevant to living the organic form and participating in myth.

Return of the Feminine
Unlike paternal line genealogy of inheritance, social norms and the Father Archetype, contemporary genealogy fully embraces the feminine, and the infusion of maternal lines and qualities into the family tree that speak on behalf of life.

The life value of the facts are related both to everyday and eternal images. The return to the Feminine is not focused on transcendence, but on the embodiment of the sacred, in life and in relationships. The grandmothers of our family tree embody the Mother Archetype.

The unification of the body, sexuality and emotions with the spirit heralds a return from striving to being. Myth is the transcendent in living relationship with the present — the life wisdom that lives within us and is bound in our body. Myth points the way beyond the phenomenal field, and this role is demonstrated in the roots of our genealogical lines, where we find families of gods and goddesses.

Joseph Campbell explored three major themes of the sacred Feminine:

1) Initiation into the cosmos and nature; immanence and eternity, and thus existing outside the bounds of ordinary, lived experience.
2) Transformation; guiding the life cycle from birth to death.
3) Inspiration; the deep, felt sense of the aliveness and energy of all life.

On the simplest level, the Goddess is the Earth. On the next, archaic level, She is the surrounding sky. On the philosophic level, She is Maya, the forms of sensibility, the limitations of the senses that enclose us so that all of our thinking takes place within her bounds—She is IT. The Goddess is the ultimate boundary of consciousness in the world of time and space.
(Joseph Campbell,
Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine)

The Incredible Lightness of Breathing
Breath is life — the life-giving presence. In Latin, Hebrew and Greek, ‘breath’ means ‘soul.’ When we breath we derive sustenance from the world around us. The breath of life is the symbol and medium of vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing and inspiration. On a cosmic level, breath symbolizes the spirit and the vital breath of the universe. In this way, to breathe is to assimilate spiritual power.

Breath is a symbol of freedom, quest, direction, and delivery. Inhalation and exhalation symbolize the alternating rhythm of life and death, of manifestation and reabsorption into the universe. In L’Air et les Songes, Bachelard notes that breathing is connected with circulation of the blood and with the important symbolic paths of involution and evolution.

There Will Be Blood
Blood and bloodline is of central significance in genealogy. Where Breath is flight, Blood is the ties that bind — relativity, heredity, bloodlines, and self-realization — life, sex, and death. Blood is the fiery ‘water’ of our body’s rivers, always in motion, ceaseless in its circulation.

When we feel most alive, when we experience passion, jealousy, or other overpowering emotions, blood rushes through our veins, we breathe faster, our cheeks redden. Blood impresses the imagination, stimulating all sorts of beliefs beyond the rational — for example, drinking blood for regeneration. Globally it represents not only heritage, but life force itself, as the element of divine life that functions within the human body.

Blood has carried extraordinary symbolic power since Neolithic times with the cyclic mysteries of the goddess and menstrual taboos, reflecting the magical meaning of women as sources of life, symbols of Eros and fertility, and the magical meaning of blood as vital fluid.. The “knot of Isis” funerary amulet placed at the neck of the deceased symbolized “the blood of Isis.”

In ancient Greek medicine, each of the four humors became associated with an element. Blood was the humor identified with air, since both were hot and wet. And blood means kin from common ancestry. Eliphas Levi called blood “the great arcanum of life” and, “the first incarnation of the universal fluid; it is the materialized vital light. Its birth is the most marvelous of all nature’s marvels; it lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it is the universal Proteus.”

Archetypal beliefs, fantasies and notions concerning the significance of blood are among the oldest surviving concepts from the earliest days of human existence. Symbolically, blood is bonds, promises, responsibility, sacrifice, collective will and has many religious connotations. Childbirth and death often involve blood. Wars have been fought in the name of bloodlines. Blood rituals symbolize death and rebirth. Body piercing is also a blood ritual.

The notion that “life is in the blood” gave rise to its presumed divine nature, a gift of the gods. Dream meanings of blood include life, fluidity, passion and that which sustains us, but also emotional pain and hurtful things. Blood is said to have magic powers and it is also associated with a variety of irrational notions, including blood brotherhood, “royal blood,” blood vengeance, “pure blood,” blood baptism, “bad blood,” bloodshed, and blood guilt.

Depth Approach
A Jungian approach to genealogy is not a requirement for practice, but it is a valid approach with its own coherence. Archetypal psychology is a legitimate ‘ground’ for an aesthetic, phenomenological approach to genealogy.

Depth Psychology can help us explores the hidden parts of human experience with a deeper rather than reductive view. Looking beyond the surface level we find currents that run throughout our lives and those of our ancestors, connecting us and communicating greater meaning through imagery, dreams, and archetypal patterns.

The depth orientation brings a new lens to our transgenerational issues we may have overlooked. The ancestral field connects us with something larger that our everyday selves, raising what was unconscious into conscious awareness. Symbolism is the practice of representing peoples, places, objects, and ideas by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.

A psychological approach is a trustworthy framework for understanding a more holistic genealogical process, with a clear sense of humanness or personhood, and irreal and quasi-real experience — intangibles produced by psyche itself.

Our genealogical lines are ours alone, although we share some of them with others. When we begin our genealogical adventure, we enter our own exclusive path. As Jung suggests, “You can enter only into your own mysteries.” How do we explore the depths of our reality and experience, seeing underneath that which appears on the surface?

Campbell noted, “Whenever a knight of the Grail tried to follow a path made by someone else, he went altogether astray. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s footsteps. Each of us has to find his own way, and this is what gives our Occidental world its initiative and creative quality. Nobody can give you a mythology. The images that mean something to you, you’ll find in your dreams, in your visions, in your actions — and you’ll find out what they are after you’ve passed them.” (Joseph Campbell, interview by Joan Marler, Yoga Journal, Joseph Campbell Foundation)

Our ancestors are like intangible assets that lack physical substance and usually are very hard to evaluate. They are not constituted or represented by a physical object and their value is not measurable. But we can feel and even assess it despite lack of physical presence.

Modes of Apprehension
A depth approach addresses the feelings, significant dreams, and imagery that are naturally aroused in the self-discovery process, and describes the nature of synchronous events. Grounded theory has a particular conceptual and methodological foundation that doesn’t reduce what it means to be human, embodied or incorporeal.

We need to separate our constructions from a delusory interpretation of the facts of reality, as available to experience. How can we integrate different theories relating to the basis of reality?  No shortage of comparisons and correlations between spiritual notions,metaphysical ideas, and scientific theories has been made.

The normally unconscious functional layer of perceptional and emotional variants are only psychologically transcendent but by no means “transcendental,” i.e., metaphysical. Perfectly normal people can have visions in certain moments. The heart of the labyrinth is the heart of all life; it is the womb of creation, rebirth, regeneration and metamorphosis. A labyrinth is a scrambled mandala.

In an idealist worldview, we act on the world through consciousness and, therefore, actively know and shape our world. In contrast, in a realist view, the world acts us and we react. Both perspectives tend to assume a dualist subject/object separation and directional relationship between person and world that does not exist in the world of actual lived experience.

We can describe at least three functional aspects of consciousness and focus of attention that relate to personal and collective conscious-unconscious phenomenology and models of reality — the way we perceive it, the way we imagine or interpret it, and the unified ground underlying existence.

1) Personal self-awareness fused with direct sensory experience and emotion (awake and aware of surroundings).
2) a fusion of imaginal memories, myths, dreams and conceptual interpretations of experience.
3) Non-dual unity and totality; the universal, suprapersonal or global aspect of dimensionless abstraction, we call “Consciousness,” or God in potentia.

A descriptive phenomenological method helps us grasp previously unrecognized assumptions regarding meaning — the means to understand subjective matters. The psychological approach is neither idealist nor realist, but intimate. Like ourselves, most of our ancestors had a lifeworld, place and home that hold people and world together.

Place is a ontological structure of being-in-the world because of our existence as embodied beings. We are “bound by body to be in place.” And the same holds true in the inner life. As with lifeworld and place, home as experience presupposes and sustains a taken-for-granted involvement between person and world. This bond is largely unself-conscious, and the phenomeno­logical aim it to make that tacitness explicit and thereby understand it.

There many challenges in life, from catastrophes (war, famine, plague, disasters), to loss of autonomy, major illness and disabilities, to involuntary displacement‑-the families’ experience of forced relocation and resettlement, metaphorically a forced journey and starting over or rebuilding. Our ancestors faced them all, mostly without modern conveniences.

The grand plan on which the unconscious life of the psyche is constructed is so inaccessible to our understanding that we can never know what evil may not be necessary in order to produce good by enantiodromia, and what good may very possibly lead to evil. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 397.

The life­world includes both the routine and the unusual, the mundane and the surprising. Whether an experience is ordinary or extraordinary, however, the lifeworld in which the experience happens is normally out of sight. Each of our ancestors had their space in their landscape and in our genealogical descent. That place serves as the condition of all existing things –“To be is to be in place.”

Typically, we do not make our experiences in the lifeworld an object of conscious awareness. Rather, these experiences just happen, and we do not consider how they happen in context. The natural attitude is to take the everyday world unquestioningly for granted. Inner and outer dimensions normally unfold automatically.

Phenomenology is the interpretive study of human experience. The aim is to examine and clarify spontaneous human situa­tions, events, meanings, and experienc­es, including personal impact, urgency, and ambiguity. We bring our own style to the process. It is an innovative way for looking at the person-environment relationship and for identifying and understanding its complex, multi-dimensional structure.

Conscious­ness was not separate from the world and human existence. A primarily aesthetic, poetic enterprise need not attempt to achieve a degree of rigor and epistemological clarity like natural scientists. We have no need to “objectify” the human being, but to adopt a qualitative, interpretive approach and to explore environmental and inherited issues. Phenomenology is one style of qualitative inquiry that involves symbolic interaction as its conceptual and methodological foundation.

As in conventional genealogy, we should apply trustworthy and reliable protocols to our practice. Humanity and the environment are an indivisible whole we can describe phenomenologically. Three phenomenological methods include: (1) first-person phenomenological research; (2) existential-phenomenological research; and (3) hermeneutical-phenomenological research.

Once we ourselves are rooted in this fertile earth of the deep unconscious, we can plant our contemporary and traditional Family Tree with its potentially vital forms and structures and listen to souls being born in the future. The Tree grounds us in imaginal space. We learn to “stand our ground” in the deep interiority of the psychological field with new vigor.

Dreaming the Earth, and Earthing the Dream
We can activate the deep knowing of the psyche as it is nourished and animated by intimacy with the natural world. Research suggests that interconnectivity manifests in our deep psychic bond with the earth, its creatures and plants, and the cosmos as a whole. Evidence of this interrelationship arises in our personal lives in dream images and synchronicities, and in the powerful and visceral sense of engagement we feel with the natural world.

In the beginning, the ‘earth’ was void and without form: “You have got to accept what the unconscious produces, and you have to understand its language. It is Nature, and it has to be translated into human forms.” (Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 359-364)

Joseph Campbell described four functions of myth:
(1) to help us through life passages, with ritual (baptism, marriage, initiation, job entry, funerals);
(2) to make connections with mysteries of the universe (spirituality, religion, arts);
(3) to explain the workings of nature (lightning, seasons, floods, birth, death); and
(4) to provide a way we find a place in the social community (family, clan, caste, ethnicity, social class, subculture).

Ovum Mundi

The longing for our origins is a metaphorical longing for paradise.
The primary myth, the seminal idea, is of our origins The egg is the universal symbol of the
archetypal phenomenology of the child’s birthThis embryo of the universe has been called the world egg, formed by light itself, The Primordial Being is hatched from the serpent-entwined Cosmic Egg. This proverbial ‘Orphic Egg’ was the source of the generative power of the entire universe.

In mythology, eggs stand for the earth, the life, or the seat of the soul. They indicate the presence of the Goddess, “whose World Egg contains the universe in embryo.” In India, Egypt, Greece and Phoenicia the creator and mankind emerge from the Cosmic Egg. The egg is commonly considered as a symbol of fertility, the rebirth of nature and wholeness. In Sufism the central goal is the rediscovery of the root of one’s being through reintegration with the entirety.

Eliade insists that the egg never loses its primary meaning, but “ensures the repetition of the act of creation which gave birth in illo tempore to living forms. …the egg guarantees the possibility of repeating the primeval act, the act of creation…In as much as it is linked with the scenarios for the New Year or the return of spring, the egg represents a manifestation of creation.” This golden egg is the most Divine being on the whole earth and from this primeval Immortal golden embryo springs the fountain of Immortality.

The world egg or golden embryo born of cosmic being or the cosmic womb is a global theme. Egyptian language implies “egg” is naturally related to “goddess.”  The words “userit,” “netrit,” “hen-t,’ and “shepsit,” all  mean “goddess” and use the egg hieroglyph as a determinative. 

The cosmic egg of the Egyptians was also identified as Osiris, symbolizing life, death, renewal, rejuvination, rebirth, or immortality. As unconscious, Osiris is the paradoxical life/death ground where integrative impulses arise. His epic ordeals mirror our own.

We cannot speak of Osiris (Wasir) apart from the rejuvenating processes of Isis (Aset), who complements and completes him. He was called “the Great Egg” — “the only egg” — and was lauded as “thou egg who becometh as one renewed.”

From the viewpoint of the ground we are refreshed each and every nanosecond of our existence. Human beings weave imaginal tales about the nature of nature, their experience and dreams. We still stave off our fears of death with hopes of eternal life when the existential fact remains that it is impossible for us to leave the sacred source field that undergirds both our corporeal existence and our potential immortalization in the virtual field, the groundstate of continuous creation.

The sarcophagus of Seti I depicts Osiris as “bent round in a circle with his toes touching his head…” Phoenician cosmogenesis says, “From the union of [Desire and Darkness] were born Aer (air) and Aura (breath)…This couple then produced the cosmic Egg, in conformity with the intelligible spirit.”

Life comes from life. The egg, the universal germ of creation, with all its potency for transformation and its circular containment, is a mandala, a magic circle, a microverse.

Greek philosopher Epicurus described the cosmic egg as a circular band. “The All,” he stated, “was from the beginning like an egg,” and the pneuma as serpent winds around the egg in a tight band as a wreath or belt around the universe. This circle without beginning or end is a symbol of the parents of the world, portrayed in their equal stature as the original unity.

This ancient symbol of the Orphic Mysteries –the serpent-entwined egg — signified Cosmos encircled by the fiery Creative Spirit. The egg also represents the soul of the philosopher; the serpent, the Mysteries. At the time of initiation the shell is broken and one emerges from the embryonic state of physical existence which is the fetal period of philosophic regeneration.

This germinal point is something great. Before our body is born of our parents, at the time of conception, this seed is first created where human nature and life dwell. The two intermingle forming a unity. Myth suggests: “In the state before the appearance there is an inexhaustible breath.” Before the parents beget the child, the breath of life is complete and the embryo perfect.

Jung’s incantation cries, “Oh light of the middle way, enclosed in the egg, embryonic, full of ardor, oppressed. Fully expectant, dreamlike, awaiting lost memories. As heavy as stone, hardened. Molten, transparent. Streaming bright, coiled on itself.” (The Red Book; 53).

Alchemy describes the “Philosophers’ Child,” “Child of Wisdom,” “ Child of the Egg” or homunculus, born symbolically in a retort which represents the human Heart. Chinese Taoist alchemy calls it the “immortal foetus,” “embryo of the Tao,” “seed pearl” or “starseed embryo.”

In The Book of the Dead, Wallis Budge describes the primitive credo concerning the cosmic egg of the ancient Egyptians in these words:
“[In the beginning] nothing existed except a boundless primeval mass of water which was shrouded in darkness and which contained within itself the germs or beginnings, male and female, of everything which was to be in the future world. The divine primeval spirit which formed an essential part of the primeval matter felt within itself the desire to begin the work of creation, and its word woke to life the world, the form and shape of which it had already depicted to itself. The first act of creation began with the formation of an egg out of the primeval water…”

Paradise Myth
The search for our origins expressing a “longing for paradise.”

The spirit of God moves upon the Face of the waters — the embryo. Jung noted that Simon Magus considered the Garden of Eden a symbol or metaphor for corporeal uterine life. The fetus is surrounded by waters.

If paradise is the womb, then Eden is the placenta and the river branching into four is the umbilical with two arteries of breath and two veins of blood. Magus claims Moses allegorically referred to the cave/womb as The Garden from which in time we are expelled, as the Fruit of the Tree of Life.

[P]aradise is the uterus, and the Garden of Eden the navel. Four flows emanate from the navel, two air- and two blood-vessels, so to speak, through which the growing child receives its food, the blood, and the pneuma.” (Children’s Dreams Seminar, Pages 365-367.)

The world navel is a symbol for Paradise, as Eliade (1991) tells us. “Paradise, where Adam was created from clay, is, of course, situated at the center of the cosmos. Paradise was the navel of the earth and according to a Syrian tradition, was established on a mountain higher than all other” (p. 16).

In biological terms, this mountain is the pregnant body of the mother and her navel as the center of the world, the connection between Heaven and Earth. The umbilical cord is the container for the river (water of life) that flows into Paradise or the womb, thereby nourishing it. Biologically, we can also compare the act of physical love and female orgasm (water of life) to the river flowing out of Paradise, leaving behind the egg that generates new life at conception.

The serpent in our archetypal tree is the unconscious with its painful, dangerous interventions and frightening effects. Though totally unconscious, it has a wisdom of its own that is foundational to our origins. But the path of knowledge is painful and bitter. The unconscious is not a separate sphere, but found in all things at all times. The soul has its own internal sources of knowledge.

Elemental Earth
The physical and chemical constituents of our bodies are the elemental earth in us. Here our acorn can grow into the oak it was meant to be. The future is affected by what we imagine. The challenge today is to sustain the vivacity of our culture and carry it into the future, maintaining a reciprocal relationship with nature, and connection to the ancestral past.

Consciously practiced, genealogy is a way to get in touch with the ground of being. It forms a great feedback loop between our present and our origins from the middle ground of imagery states that is our birthright. Interacting with one’s genealogy becomes a rite of passage with three phases: severance (deciding to participate), threshold (entering uncharted territory), and incorporation, (literally, “to take on the body,” having gained new insights).

Our search is for our origins. Our lines take serpentine twists and turns mirroring the genetics of our DNA. Genealogy dignifies our existence as numinous, not merely derivative or reactive, nor is it prescriptive in any one-approach-fits-all manner.

“When the unconscious intrudes into spaces of consciousness, it is automatically split into its pairs of opposites.” (Jung, Children’s Dreams Seminar, Page 408.) Symbols mirror the nuclear family union of gender opposites and reconciliation in new birth. Images, like the union of opposites, cannot be willed.

“What takes place between light and darkness, what unites the opposites, always has a share in both sides and can be judged just as well from the left as from the right… the only thing that helps us here is the symbol….with its paradoxical nature it represents the ‘third thing.”  (Jung, CW 13, pp. 134)

The Kingdom of Heaven is within ourselves. It is our innermost nature and something between ourselves. The Kingdom of Heaven is between people like cement.” (Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 444.)

Recognition of soul images and incorporation into awareness is an ongoing process. In The Red Book, Jung notes, “Because I sink into my symbol to such an extent, the symbol changes me from my one into my other …I have interpreted these images, as best I can, with poor words.” (Pg. 250.)

Jung cautions, “The dead who besiege us are souls who have not fulfilled the principium individuationis, or else they would have become distant stars. Insofar as we do not fulfill it, the dead have a claim on us and besiege us and we cannot escape them.” (The Red Book; Appendix C; Page 370)

Jung advised the incorporation of death into one’s lived experience. In The Red Book, he says, “The knowledge of death came to me that night, from the dying that engulfs the world. I saw how we live towards death, how the swaying golden wheat sinks together under the scythe of the reaper like a smooth wave on a sea beach.

Our ancestors are permanent living residents in our own psychological life that continue to enrich, animate, and inspire us in their enduring significance and embodied meaning. Bringing them back through remembrance is also a recollection — a re-collection and differentiation. Tacitly welcoming us across the years, they have aesthetic and psychological qualities — subtle bodies clothed with the presence of our deep memories.

Our thought is constrained and impaired if we think in terms of partial derivatives (time- and space-bound effects) instead of full function. The capacity for objective inner experience remains latent. We gradually develop “an eye to see and an ear to hear.” We dialogue with figures of the soul. Their radical otherness, activities, and words affect us as they move with their own intentions.

Aesthetic Genealogy
Genealogy reconnects us with nature and our own nature. It is an aesthetic interaction in which both the Greek chorus of ancestors and ourselves are the medium that makes art of life’s remnants.
It is a tool we can use to change ourselves by turning into more of ourselves.

The evolutionary function of the aesthetic sense drew us toward conditions that made for survival and reproductive success and repelled us from conditions that impacted longevity and fertility negatively. Existence and the world are eternally joined as an aesthetic phenomena.

What we think and feel and the intensity of aesthetic engagement, is proportional to the depth of its unconscious content. Its imaginative texture cannot be fixed in meaning. Yet it is capable of moving us psychologically away from the temporal (human) present and towards the universal (divine) or archetypal constant. So, aesthetics is a form of transformation.

Genealogy forms both the aesthetic space or context as well as the figurative content in an authentic expression of the human condition through the ages. Genealogy is the basis for a configuration, re-configuration, and aesthetic appreciation of our life story. Genealogy is a ‘mirror’ of aesthetic engagement in the materially based image.

Addressing the needs of unconscious life is fundamental to aesthetic
appreciation. Implied inner needs drive the initial intention to physically create our genealogical image and to act this out imaginatively.
We raise the ancestors who carry meaning and value to consciousness from the labyrinth of unconscious form production and creative instinct.

The aesthetic paradigm is admittedly not the only approach, and it may be philosophically romantic, but it embodies a certain eros — felt-experience or love toward the family — known, unknown, and unknowable. Eros connects body and soul with vitality and passion born in the blood. Vivid libidinal participation connects our heart to the heart of the universe. It binds the ordinary and nonordinary worlds together by creating symbols of transcendence.

Genealogy becomes a homage to the power of love in our very creation. We heed the ancestors when we receive, listen, and contain. In that sense, genealogy becomes a temenos, or sacred space, the sanctuary of our holy grove — the magic circle of extended family. The self-realizing motion performs the transformation. Our ancestors are a revelation. We need to reveal, not just know ourselves. Self-realization is self-revelation.

We have to accept that our genealogical ‘dead ends’ will remain unknown, will remain the ‘road not taken.’ We can relate to the blunt facts of our genesis and stop there as the genealogical ‘realists’ do, cutting off the fictional, legendary and mythic elements, but we may do so at our own psychological peril. A myth is not a dream; its archaic images and memories constitute a world.

Aesthetic appeal is certainly a big part of the lure of genealogy that supersedes dry ancestral recording, analysis, and interpretation. The aesthetic approach does not rule out other perspectives on genealogy, which can be pursued as we are moved to do so.

But the archetypal approach probably makes the most ‘sense’ of the roots of our mythologically-based lines, and permits depth exploration without literalism,  concretization, or symptomatic concretization. For example, when Native American cultures say they get their ancestral wisdom, ceremonies, guidance, and direction from the ‘womb at the center of the universe,’ they refer to the sacred Feminine.

Jung echoes such ancient sentiments: “For him who looks backwards the whole world, even the starry sky, becomes the mother who bends over him and enfolds him on all sides, and from the renunciation of this image, and of the longing for it arises the picture of the world as we know it today.” ( The Sacrifice; CW 5; Par 643.)

The archetypes are an aesthetic stimulus with their own properties and appeal, among other things. So is our aesthetic response to their symbolism and experience. The mythic is an expression of the larger whole. We often fail to realize that other fascinating possibilities exist.

Heuristic Method
Creative outpouring is the entrance to self-actualization. It is heuristic, preparing us for deeper understanding.
In psychology, heuristics are simple, efficient rules, learned or hard-coded by evolutionary processes. Like archetypes, they help us  function without constantly stopping to think about the next course of action.

We find or discover things by experience and experiment. It stimulates interest in further investigation. As a problem-solving strategy, the heuristic method allows us to discover something for ourselves, to discover answers on our own and learn more about ourselves on our own.

A psychophysical approach is the secret behind the aesthetic experience. The ancestors feed the aesthetic formation of our living form. Aesthetic knowledge enables the psychological phenomena to link the body to the world.

Creativity points the way to the numinous, a high-voltage elemental force. Incubation brings new insights into ourselves and the ancestors. In our initial attempts to encounter the numinous with the emotions instead of with the body, we must expect indirect, rather than direct knowledge, and therefore be satisfied with intimations, allegory, implications, and transformations.

Psychic tensions accumulate and stimulate our imaginations to form images embodying their emotional essence. This process is the dynamic agency behind both individual fantasies and forms of cultural expression.

Aesthetic Intuition
Genealogy offers direct traditional testimony that archetypes as aesthetic universals lie at the roots of the collective unconscious which Jung insisted was not a mystical idea. Our invisible connections go down deep, and to go deep is to go backward.

Our aesthetic response, a psychic sensuality and sensitivity, to phenomena is the source of the immediate apprehension that Hillman describes as ‘soul-making,’ subjective interrelation. Reflection makes consciousness, but only love makes soul.

It means leaving our solid footing and carrying every question into deeper waters, rather than dragging ‘the invisibles’ out of the underworld and back into the daylight world. They may ‘come up’ spontaneously if we have no desire to control the outcome.

Poiesis, as creative act, is the death and re-birth of the soul. We constantly to re-form ourselves with ‘soul-making.’ Poiesis is integrative affirmation always emerging into form. The naturally therapeutic process evokes the emotions and experiences that give life a deeper meaning. It evokes the ancestors.

Psychological faith begins in the love of images, and it flows mainly through the shapes of persons in reveries, fantasies, reflections, and imaginations. Their increasing vivification gives one an increasing conviction of having, and then of being, and interior reality of deep significance transcending one’s personal life.(Hillman, James, Re-Visioning Psychology, p. 50)

The symbol is a means of guiding thought out into the Unseen and Incomprehensible. Ancestral images remain largely ambiguous and are never precisely defined nor fully explained. They appear and are created in dreams, ritual, and art.

We know now there are neural correlates to aesthetic experience, including contemporary genealogical practice. Its effects include spontaneous appearance of intuitive forms and symbolic visualizations of what cannot be directly known. An aesthetic response to perception fosters notions of reverence, symbolism, and role relationships — aspects of ancestor devotion.

We open to the aesthetic depths of the world, in addition to the physical, social, linguistic, and spiritual modes. Spiritual here is a concept with a voice independent of formal religious structures with essential mystery underscoring its meaning, It has a deep resonance with key elements of religious practice.

The image now exists as an external presence, outside the maker and, at the same time, is temporarily inhabited by a part of the maker. Images are actively imagined internal feeling states now embodied within this external image. The image is both a statement about and a depiction of what was formerly an invisible and largely unconscious inner state. It can be understood in several ways at many levels of meaning.

At root, traditional genealogy is an archetypal activity, recapitulating and extending humanity’s oldest activities. The aesthetic response is an ethical response — a response of the heart — that values the ancestors and the genealogical history. Genealogy is thus an archetypal order, an aesthetic construction, and a virtual map of the personal and collective unconscious, reflecting a principle of totality and primordial origins.

A Forest of Family Trees
Cosmic process provides the potential for life. The life-world is always there as the background of all human experiences. All the living world is aesthetic. Deeply felt aesthetic experiences are very likely to also be numinous. The aesthetic is a way to receive, process, and deal with coherent information.

Pattern is the ultimate “stuff” of reality. Without intent to do so, the patterns of our genealogical structures endure and then disintegrate. This occurs at all levels of explanation. The key is the integrity of the pattern, not the “substrate.”

Even largely unconscious flowing information elicits physical responses. The “pattern which connects” is beauty, and the beauty of our connectedness is revealed graphically in the full flowering of our genealogy with its incorporation of the eollective tree — the archetypal World Tree. At its root is the archetypal drama of our origins, externally validated by sources of recognition and resonance.

Like the sea or the sky, the tree or forest is a kind of archetype of the foundations of the world. Because it reflects our inner and outer reality, genealogy becomes a means of access to insights about the deep nature of both personal and collective reality. The ancestors are transcendent in their value if not their appearance.

Our genealogical chart is a shorthand of minimal graphics — we are born; we mate; we die. It is a vast treasure of subconscious symbolism, wisdom, collective and self-knowledge that is the enabling of life. We are products of the aesthetic process of evolution, embryology, and life experience. Our bodies exhibit aesthetic proportion and so does a balanced mind.

Our family tree focuses and expands the field of our attention. Genealogy is a metaphor of primary process with the full intensity of literal truth. We can be inspired by lived relations with those energies on an ongoing basis…not just as a paper trial. Where lines meet dead ends or brick walls, the charts also represent emptiness.

Presence of Absence
The figures of absence inform us with their paradoxical presence — the dead or missing parent, the grandparent never met, the unborn and miscarried. Absence of something is the negation of a presence as ‘non-presence.’

Many figurative strategies confront the notion of absence, and address the aesthetics of absence. For example, a spectre, phantom or absent figure is an archetypal representation of the presence of an absence, distorted shape (anamorphosis, a form of perspective) as uncertain presence.

Our untraceable lines remain profoundly unconscious in the silent margins from which the last known member of a lost line speaks. Such lines of descent do not enclose us but disclose our essential nature. They reflect and map out our embedding in the natural world, intricate in its elegance — our very aliveness. Seeing with the eye of the heart gives us a very personal sense of the vastness and beauty of nature, our inherent place in it, and how we are sustained by it.


The genealogical aesthetic emerges somewhere between imagination and rigor as an ecology of souls, a self-organizing biophenomenon, the dynamics and functionality of interrelationships. We can apply ecological hermeneutics to explore our interpretations of disclosure and concealment — in an imaginal sort of ecological intercorporeality.

Genealogy arouses and enlivens real psychological phenomena, with attention to bodily responses and emotional awareness enhanced by imagination.
Archetypal symbolism is an aesthetic experience, as is symbolic interaction with our ancestors, the archetypal background, and primal states of consciousness of the life-world. We interact through the meaning of symbols, by interpreting and reacting. We each have symbolic meaning to be revealed. Symbols bridge the gap between perceptual reality and and what we understand.

James Hillman’s aesthetic approach to dream images translate directly to genealogical imagery as scene, as context, as mood. Certain ancestors spontaneously suggest a place that we dream into, we enter into and in turn are embraced by it. Hillman noted the image doesn’t lead somewhere else like a story.

We can find nowhere to go but more deeply into the image. The images do not become pinned down by any particular interpretation, are never literalized into any single fixed concept or “meaning. Instead we return, drawn again and again to an experiential “living in the image,” with new meanings potentially emerging over time as we go  “more deeply into the image.” Hillman suggests that images acquire autonomy and operate according to their own will, similar to gods.

Hillman’s approach to image is deeply rooted in the work of the French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard. The image is a free expression created not from pressure but from play, not from necessity but from inventiveness — the way we engage and embrace the world. Imagination is more than the stuff-sack of trauma; it is the cradle of renewal, a genesis, rather than effect. Imagination mobilizes the potencies of transformation.

In his Poetics of Space, Bachelard says, “By the swiftness of its actions, the imagination separates us from the past as well as from reality; it faces the future. To the function of reality, wise in the experience of the past, should be added a function of irreality, which is equally positive. Any weakness in the function of irreality will hamper the productive psyche. If we cannot imagine, we cannot foresee.”

Our self-reference rests on a perceptual dimension of presence-openness not ‘closed’ within any conceptual system. As long as the images are not trapped in a single meaning, they continue as an animating, enlivening presence. You will quickly discover the ancestors various aesthetic preferences. These are forms, styles and archetypes that are inherent in their makeup. Aesthetic satisfaction validates the process.

Joseph Campbell said, “The object becomes aesthetically significant when it becomes metaphysically significant.” Clarity is the “aha” quality — privileged ‘moments of grace.’ Transient moments of grace and transformation put meaning into aesthetic arrest and creativity that is an intuitive awareness of the required action. The innocent viewer is stopped dead in their tracks and has no choice but to stare in awe at their relationship with the living world.

Aesthetic engagement is active engagement with the (genealogical) process — engagement with the element of beauty and systemic wisdom. Aesthetic arrangement and metaphorical thought squeeze out the real meaning and value of our experience and the comprehensive properties of our relationships through ‘wise relating.’

Like art, genealogy is significant life activity and a way to access systemic wisdom and connectiveness. We cultivate inner beauty in the life-changing play of our own natural history. Information is the stuff of relationship and the living world of context, relevance and integration. The conjunction of the spiritual and aesthetic is a Royal Marriage — a grand synthesis of wholeness, our frail and mortal selves, revealed in their beauty over the epic panoply of history and myth.

“If your life has not three dimensions, if you don’t live in the body,
if you live on the two-dimensional plane in the paper world that is flat and printed, as if you were only living your biography, then you are nowhere.”

~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 972.

“dziadzia” English translation
dziadzia {noun}
dziadzia {m} [child.l.] (also: dziadek, dziadzio, dziadunio, dziadziuś)
grandpa {noun} [child.l.]dziad {noun}
dziad {m} (also: starzec, stary, staruszek, starszy człowiek)old man {noun} dziad {m} (also: przodek, antenat)
ancestor {noun} dziad {m} [pej.] (also: żebrak)
beggar {noun} dziad {m} [arch.] (also: dziadek)
grandfather {noun}
Dziadzia is the Americanized Polish word for grandpa, which in Polish is dziadek or dziadziu.


•March 22, 2016 • Leave a Comment

by Iona Miller,

babycosmicFrom a barren list of names we learn who were the fathers or mothers, or more distant progenitors, of the select few, who are able to trace what is called their descent from antiquity.” (Smollett, Tobias (1798).)

“Hypothesis: in a sharp crisis, that bears in some way on species survival,
an individual may spontaneously merge with his ancestors AND descendants
and become, for a time, a single amplified entity.” —
Ken Thomas

“Go to bed. Think of your problem. See what you dream.
Perhaps the Great Man, the 2,000,000-year-old man, will speak…

If you are not interested in your own fate, the unconscious is.
There is a mountain of symbolism. …
The Great Man is something that reacts.

Analysis is a long discussion with the Great Man—
an unintelligent attempt to understand him.
It, the Great Man, can at one stroke put an entirely different face
on the thing — or anything can happen.
In that way you learn about the peculiar intelligence of the background;
you learn the nature of the Great Man.
You learn about yourself against the Great Man—against his postulates.
This is the way through things, things that look desperate and unanswerable.

The unconscious gives you that peculiar twist that makes the way possible.
The way is ineffable.
One needs faith, courage, and no end of honesty and patience.
You have added things you didn’t dream of—
a new aspect of yourself and of the world.
If you are dishonest, you are nothing for your unconscious.
This you cannot regulate, or it would be misused.

It is not a conviction, not an assumption.
It is a Presence. It is a fact. It is there. …

You have got to accept what the unconscious produces,
and you have to understand its language.
It is Nature, and it has to be translated into human forms.

(Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 359-364)

Depth Perception
A genealogy is a record of the descent of a person or group from an ancestor. Death fascinates us, and probably always has. The oldest extant epic, Gilgamesh, directly addresses the question of why death exists.

In our family tree our ‘depth perception’ refers to how many generations are known to us, and how keenly we perceive the essence of each of their lives (face recognition) in our family history.

Living in touch with what our ancestors symbolize in the emotional language of the unconscious roots us in a far greater whole. Our hunger is for connection, not more food, money, or status. When we know our ancestors we live in unbroken continuity with the past. This is grounding down to the molecular level.

Ideally, depth connections throughout deep time might help us to  overcome stumbling blocks, move through loss, find deeper meaning and interpersonal connection, and function at our optimal potential. We break through ancient walls, listening to the archaic hum of the ancestors, what their souls are saying,  that reminds us of the collective buzzing of bees.

Joseph Cambray, Provost of Pacifica, said, “So much of human suffering is very intimately tied up with non-conscious levels that it’s hard to imagine we could ameliorate symptoms without a depth perspective.”

Jung’s “Great Man” can also appear as the Great woman — Anima Mundi, the ancient worldview. It is the hermaphroditic fusion of all our ancestry into an omnipotent archetypal figure of soul and spirit.

Throughout much of human history, ancestors were revered and frequently visited in caves and barrows. People sat in these natural resonant echo chambers, chanting and drumming hypnotically and opening their altered psyches to the possibility of communication with the Beyond – voices of eternity.

People died so young, this youthful population needed shamanic guidance, needed primal wisdom. We are learning to understand that our immature culture can benefit by rooting ourselves in deep time and the wisdom of eternity. We still dream at night of connecting somehow with our departed loved ones. We are unconsciously entangled with our ancestral soul, but psychically dissociated.

Chopping Wood & Carrying  Cosmic Water
Water is the great symbol of the primordial unconscious. And we are its water-bearers. We carry the ancestral psyche much like the bloodline. The dragon or serpent is another symbol of the universal unconscious, the psychic field, and renewal. It impregnates itself by biting its own tail. The depths conceive.

A feminine symbol, water also signifies emotions or psychic energy, fertility, growth, creative potential, new life, or healing. An integrative approach includes memory reconsolidation to maintain, strengthen, modify and stabilize memories of the unconscious and long-term memory. Our ancestors remain amnesiac agents as long as we are unconscious of them as a kinship system.

Psychologically, water means spirit that has become unconscious. The way of the soul leads to the water, to the dark mirror, the world of invisible perception, that reposes at its bottom. This water is no figure of speech, but a living symbol of the dark psyche. We descend into our depths, into that well of souls and perhaps return with a bit of its healing bounty.

The Tree, watered by the unconscious roots, is the great symbol of humanity. In the tree metaphor,
these root systems that lie far beneath the surface of the Earth, which are just as extensive as the trunks and branches we have growing in plain view. We don’t just look at the tree superficially, but examine its entire structure — perhaps, a metaphorical “chopping wood” — including belief systems and subconscious patterns of thinking formed from birth.

We all “carry water” for the divine in our manifest embodiment — not only in the fluids of our bodies, but the fluidity of the psyche and our epigenetic memories. But how many of us incorporate the numinous realms of the psyche—meaning the unconscious, spiritual beliefs, dream life, the imagination, our connection to mystery, myth, archetype and the natural world?

How do we function in society, what bonds us to one another, what causes our psychoses and neuroses, and what helps us to individuate and become the people we were meant to be? The Depth Approach includes Dual Process Theory and The Frame Problem, and some consequences for our research.

Dual Process Theory recognizes that the human mind has two disparate modes of thinking – Subconscious Intuitive Understanding on one hand and Conscious Logical Reasoning on the other. The depth perspective “frame” in this case is provided by genealogy.

We bring our own sense of aesthetics to ancestral relationships, knowing that each of our living cells carries the experience of billions of years of experimentation by its ancestors. Bioevolutionary aesthetics include the cognitive spectrum of sensation, perception, conceptualization, and thought as well as the basic emotions, pain, and sexuality.

About 1/3 – 1/2 of each of the psychological types seem to enjoy genealogy. The ‘analysts’ (Intuitive and Thinking) enjoy a rigorous, fact-based treasure hunt through their ancestry. The visionary ‘diplomats’ (intuitive and feeling) are curious, imaginative, on the lookout for secrets, hidden meanings and new possibilities.

Conservative ‘sentinels’ (observant and judging) like to preserve order and security, are often focus on the bonds of family and the importance of history. Goal-oriented ‘explorers’ (observing and prospecting) tend to stick to the facts and have practical applications in the future – the past and the present are prologue.

Genealogical Heritage
An ancestor or forebear is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an ancestor (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, and so forth). Ancestor is “any person from whom one is descended. In law the person from whom an estate has been inherited.”

Direct-line research refers to genealogy research focused on one’s direct-line ancestors. We follow both surnames at each generation (i.e. paternal and maternal lines), back as far as records allow. Family history, rather than just genealogy, includes extended families (biological marital, sociological) that often interact significantly with our own lines.

When our genealogy expresses more than one line of descent from a given ancestor, then it exhibits segmentation or branching. This is a “segmented genealogy.” A segmented genealogy starts with a single parent and shows the relationship of children to each other. This kind of genealogy will have both a horizontal and vertical element to it.

If we go back 300 years, we have roughly 3,000 ancestors. Going back a thousand years results theoretically in billions of ancestors, more people than ever lived on the face of the earth! In reality, the same ancestors will show up in multiple places in your family tree as you have multiple lines of descent from many of these people.

“Linear genealogy” expresses only one line of descent, linking the genealogy to an older ancestor or group. Both segmented and linear genealogies exhibit depth (number of generations) and a sort of “cartography” of the unconscious. That map may lead us toward our greatest possible treasure–our inner gold — the knowledge in our bones.

Maybe we also find a bit of fool’s gold along the way. Family stories provide wonderful insights into the lives of our ancestors. However, not all family stories are true. Many such stories are fictional. Yet, even the stories that are either entirely or part fiction may contain clues to facts. Good genealogical practice requires that we admit the fiction to mine for its nuggets of truth.

In the domestic sphere, linear genealogy relates individuals to other individuals and kinship groups. They also function in the political and legal sphere to legitimate rulers, express progress, and support claims to recognition, status or power.

Some lines pass through or end (or begin) in legends or mythic figures. Already in the fifth century, the Macedonian kings claimed descent from Perdiccas, who descended from Temenos, a king of Argos; and he was great-grandchild of Hyllus, the son of Heracles.

Woden is consistently placed at nine removes from the founder of a dynasty. But is that the god, or Odin the man? In the 13th century, the Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson wrote that Odin came to worshiped as a god, but he was originally a famous warrior who led his people out of Troy and into Scandinavia. Or was he?

In the 13th century, the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus wrote that Odin was a sorcerer from Byzantium. The other gods there stripped Odin of his rank and power, then banished him. He fooled the people of Scandinavia into worshiping him as a god. The old kings of Wessex and Mercia claimed him as ancestor.

Paul Henri Mallet (1730-1807) might have been the first to formulate explicitly the idea that the historical Odin was a man named Sigge Fridulfsson. He says, “His true name was Sigge, son of Fridulph; but he assumed that of Odin, who was the Supreme God among the Scythians.” Mallet’s version claims, Sigge (also known as Odin) was an ally of Mithradates, a Persian king defeated by the Romans. (Mallet, Northern Antiquities, 1770, 1809).

On the other hand, as many as 3 million men worldwide may be descendants of the Irish warlord, Niall of the Nine Hostages, who was who was the Irish “High King” at Tara, the ancient center of Ireland from A.D. 379 to A.D. 405. A 2003 study found that 8 percent of all Mongolian males are the descendants of Genghis Khan, sharing his Y chromosome. The Khan family may have as many as 16 million descendants in Asia today.

Even metaphorically,
the most prestigious of all possible ancestry is descent from divinity itself.
  Descent from antiquity (DFA) is the project of establishing a well-researched, generation-by-generation descent of living persons from people living in antiquity. It is an ultimate challenge in genealogy. No prospective DFA is accepted at this time.

Irish legends and subsequently Scottish lines, claim royal descent from Milesius, King of Spain, husband of Scota, Princess of Egypt. The Welsh also have legends, which claim descent from Noah, while Charlemagne, the father of all European nobility, claims descent from Adam.
Sometimes totems represent descent from Dragons, Lions, Eagles, or Serpents.

Hellenistic dynasties, such as the Ptolemies, claimed descent from gods and legendary heroes. In the Middle Ages, major royal dynasties of Europe sponsored compilations claiming their descent from Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, in particular the rulers of Troy. As propaganda, these claims glorified a royal patron by trumpeting the antiquity and nobility of his ancestry.

These descent lines included both mythical figures and outright fiction, much of which is still widely perpetuated today. The odds of royal ancestry are overwhelming. Virtually all people with European ancestry are descended from the usual royal suspects of 1000+ years ago.

Seeing ourselves in our archetypal nature helps us recognize our timeless parts and own our gifts. Having a mythic sensibility about ourselves offers a clue to how we might be unconsciously acting out archetypal patterns.

Apparently conflicting genealogies with different functions (and often without kinship terms) emerge from the religious or cultic sphere. That is, genealogies become fluid in accuracy according to their function. No generalizations are possible for a historiographic value of such genealogies with fragmentations and gaps.

For example, Sumerian and Akkadian elements were fused into Hellenistic and  biblical narrative with questionable linkages, significant differences, and background stories. Of the nine descendants of Adam, only Enoch is described with particulars from traditions now lost to us (Genesis Apocryphon) though we know they are related to Mesopotamian “fish-shaped sages” and kings lists.

The exact form of such ancient determinative lines in royal or religious genealogies is not known, but historically conflated, confabulated, and altered by compilers at various times for various reasons. Jung suggested we “think diligently” about the images the ancients have left us, as they also intimate what is to come.

Depth is the most important feature of linear genealogy. That depth expresses the memories of the people who preserve it in practice, relating us to deep time, distance, and transcendence.

But, true nobility springs from the soul and spirit, rather than any genetic tr

The Genius of Genealogy

•January 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Genealogy is only one of many ways to satisfy a deep-seated yearning for truth and mystery. However, the Family Tree is perhaps the most primordial way to connect with our roots — not a choice but a biological given of our existence — the living mystery of life.

The Tree of Souls is a fundamental mytheme. It is arguably among the oldest shamanic practices and tropes, and therefore the foundation of magic. The conjoint heartbeats of the ancestors is the core rhythm, the drumbeat of time on the stretched canvas of flesh. That song is our prayer.

Rumi tells us, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” To be satisfied in life we must combine inner and outer, the deep inner wisdom with focused activity in the world. Tracing our own genealogy, climbing up and down our Tree of Life, gives us potential for both.

“The Middle Plane, between the Upper & Lower World , that the Celts call the “Thin Place” is where the center of gravity shifts away from the Ego and its functions into an interim position…to attending to the hints of the self.” (M.-L. von Franz, Psychotherapy)

Grasp Your Legacy
But we must seek out our family tree to learn its hidden secrets, find its dead ends, and recast the contents of our personal and collective unconscious. Jung noted in his own process that, “The mystery showed me in images what I should afterward live. I did not possess any of those boons that the mystery showed me, for I still had to earn all of them.” (Liber Novus, Page 254).

Your genealogy project can bring the past to life in ways you could not have imagined. Can a family tree give meaning to your life? Only if you infuse it with intention, value, and love. We invest in the message and are very involved and left with powerful residual impact. We may take the divine steps back for our own souls with corresponding results for our own well-being. But we may find in the process we become family stewards, bards, genwriters, or storytellers.

Well of Souls
Genealogy is a means of achieving empathy, of digging our own well of souls. Our undifferentiated ‘well of souls’ in the secret chambers of our hearts becomes more and more specific. We detect the current below, realizing the presence of something.  The content is a resonance between the stimuli and the stored and storied material in our psychobiology.

Voices of the Transcendent
`The many voices of the psyche’ is a transcendent ordering principle and aspirational or integrative position that may have a healing, unified or pluralistic agenda — different ways to understand one’s life.
Both the regressive and progressive perspective have their own type of wholeness, even if the mytheme differs.

Joseph Campbell said, “What is it we are questing for? It is the fulfillment of that which is potential in each of us. Questing for it is not an ego trip; it is an adventure to bring into fulfillment your gift to the world, which is yourself. There is nothing you can do that’s more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way you will find, live, become a realization of your own personal myth.”

Genealogy as a mythic image functions to connect the ego and the transcendent Other. Subjective images are powerful because they can be experienced symbolically.

Binary Ancestor Designation System
The logic of Nature is a natural discrete binary system of consistent generativity —
bifurcating arborescence. Relations identified by the terminology may form a system of relationships. … of symbols (the generating elements).
Without pedigree collapse, a person’s ancestor tree is a binary tree, formed by the person, the parents (2), the grandparents (4), great-grandparents (8), and so on. However, the number of individuals in such a tree grows exponentially and will eventually become impossibly high. For example, a single individual alive today would, over 30 generations going back to the High Middle Ages, have or roughly a billion ancestors, more than the total world population at the time.

This apparent paradox is explained by shared ancestors, referred to as pedigree collapse. Instead of consisting of all unique individuals, a tree may have multiple places occupied by a single individual. This typically happens when the parents of an ancestor are related to each other (sometimes unbeknownst to themselves). For example, the offspring of two first cousins has at most only six great-grandparents instead of the normal eight. In some cultures, cousins and other relations were permitted, encouraged or required to marry. This may have been to keep kin bonds, wealth and property within a family (endogamy) or simply because there was a limited number of potential marriage partners available. Among royalty, the frequent requirement to only marry other royals resulted in a reduced gene pool in which most individuals were the result of extensive pedigree collapse.

We enter the cave below the rock of reality to the reality of psychic manifestations. “We are standing in between two worlds, a visible tangible world, and the other invisible world, which somehow has a peculiar quality of substantiality; but very subtle, a sort of matter that is not obvious and is not visible, that penetrates bodies and apparently exists outside of time and space.

It is here and everywhere at the same time, and yet nowhere because it has no extension; it is a complete annihilation of space and time, which makes it a very different thing from our conception of an obvious world.” (Jung, Visions Seminars, Vol. 1 Page 206)

As Meister Eckhart said, “When the soul wishes to experience something she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own Image.” We go internal but come out with new information based on our experience. Personality widens with unconscious supplementation. Resilience builds throughout life, and close relationships are key.

We are standing in between two worlds, a visible tangible world, and the other invisible world, which somehow has a peculiar quality of substantiality; but very subtle, a sort of matter that is not obvious and is not visible, that penetrates bodies and apparently exists outside of time and space.

It is here and everywhere at the same time, and yet nowhere because it has no extension; it is a complete annihilation of space and time, which makes it a very different thing from our conception of an obvious world.” (Jung, Visions Seminars, Vol. 1, Page 206)

We can reclaim this most ancient genealogical practice and non-visible environment that allows us to gaze at a thing without seeing it. With each generation we enter a new level of interaction. Some branches of our tree clearly announce themselves as living forces of myth, which shows the nature of our life journey. Figures of the gods carry the idea of immortality, the image of ommortality.

Enhancing our self-awareness, genealogy makes alienation obsolete by retrieving lost unconscious energy. What has haunted us now informs us, activated both by initiating and responding to joint attention The mythic impulse is contained in allegory and symbolism that are clearly not literal.

The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place diminishes. Instead of a single answer there are many tacit replies. As a structured metaphor and technology, genealogy  amplifies or intensifies our faculties increasing the value and quality of our inner life. Are you willing to enter the Tree?

Passing Through
Genealogy opens an inner space, and can be an immersive experience, a virtual reality where we suspend certain disbeliefs and entertain other hypotheses. Jung implies that what is not material now is ‘spiritual,’ and we find those explicit spiritual roots in our family tree. “Experience of the inner world has for its object the phenomena of the psychic background, which in itself is so indefinite or so multifaceted that it can be expressed in an infinite variety of forms.”

At the dawn of mankind the Dragon constellation Draco was at the northern center of the heavens, overhanging the stellar system of the zodiac and its vast Precession drama. Jung tells us how family images spontaneously come back to us: “[The] dragon comes into the category of the great animals in the background who seem to regulate the world. Hence the mainly theriomorphic symbols for the signs of the zodiac as dominants of the psychic process.

“Naturally the phenomena observed in the background are not always archetypes; they can also be personal complexes which have acquired excessive importance. Father and mother are not only personal entities but also have a suprapersonal meaning and are frequently used as symbols for the deity.

In this way the religious view of the world, thrown out at the front door, creeps in again by the back, albeit in strangely altered form-so altered that nobody has yet noticed it.” (Letters Vol. II, Pages 604-605)

As we enliven our tree it enlivens our depths. Here the lands of the dead and the living intersect. Here, in a dimension of existential and psychological truths that underlie mythic process, we come to grips with perennial questions and mystery. Perhaps the most important way of connecting with the ancestors is the act of tracing the genesis oneself so that each part of the discovery process has a chance to work in us and on us imaginally over time.

Time means a past and a future, and so the individual is only complete when we add his actual structure as the result of past events, and at the same time the actual structure taken as the starting point of new tendencies. (Jung, 1925 Seminar, Page 137)

Jung links “the discontent of civilization” with distancing ourselves from our historical roots, and loss of connection with our past. He felt that crucial connection fostered individuality which counteracts mass-mindedness. Knowing the historical family via the collective unconscious [and genealogy] is crucial to psychological health and self-knowledge, in Jung’s theory.

“The less we understand of what our fathers and forefathers sought,” he comments, “the less we understand ourselves, and thus we help with all our might to rob the individual of his roots and his guiding instincts, so that he becomes a particle in the mass […]” (
Jung, MDR).

It is in humanity’s best interest, then, to reconnect to this past, as the “ancestral psyches” within each of us can shed light on contemporary circumstances and situations (Jung, MDR, p.237). It is equally important, however, not to become lost in these past images, not to be “imprisoned in these memories” (MDR, p.320).

Representational Demands
The family tree is a nexus of historical and underlying mythological narratives which give birth to additional interconnecting narratives. Science offers some alternatives to supernatural appearances in dialogic inner speech. The brain’s conversations with itself can now be mapped, but may be more than that.

Just because some people experience pathological auditory hallucinations doesn’t mean all audialization is pathological.
We naturally can form a mental concept of a sound impression without ‘external’ agency. Some people can imagine whole symphonies. Information is made more comprehensible by perspective switching and rendering it as sound.

Findings show that  forms of inner speech exist which can be both phenomenologically and neurologically distinguished from the silent commentary of a single inner voice. Contributions of inner speech and forms of mental imagery create vivid inner dialogues. Even Genesis describes a creation of spoken words rather than acts.

“Inner speech has been implicated in important aspects of normal and atypical cognition, including the development of auditory hallucinations. neural activation for inner speech involves conversations (‘dialogic inner speech’) with single-speaker scenarios (‘monologic inner speech’). Generation of dialogic (compared with monologic) scenarios was associated with a widespread bilateral network including left and right superior temporal gyri, precuneus, posterior cingulate and left inferior and medial frontal gyri. Activation associated with cognitive and dialogic scenarios overlapped in areas of right posterior temporal cortex previously linked to mental state representation.”

Inner speech is a complex and varied phenomenon. In behavioral studies, everyday inner speech is often reported to be involved in self-awareness, past and future thinking and emotional reflection, while in cognitive research, inner speech appears to fulfill a variety of mnemonic and regulatory functions. Inner speech may reflect the endpoint of a developmental process in which social dialogues, mediated by language, are internalized as verbal thought. Following from this view, the subjective experience of inner speech will mirror the external experience of communication and often have a dialogic structure, involving the co-articulation of differing perspectives on reality and, in some cases, representation of others’ voices.

Time alters us and our perceptions. Many experience the bittersweet feeling of arriving in the future without being able to tell our past self how things turned out among the hypothetical conversations that play out in our heads. Perhaps all our ancestors are ‘talking’ but nobody is listening. And even if we do, we may be frustrated others are unable to relate to the experience.

On the other hand, the plot of our life, flaws, and anxieties may begin to make more sense. Awareness of our perspective enlarges, personally and historically. We realize each ancestor has a life as vivid and complex as our own, and that it takes a long time to forge a deep relationship.

Family Battlecry
Genealogy is a feeling and a challenge, a lost art of ancestors returning with a vengeance. The mottoes on heraldic arms are actually battlecries. Just as the Scots shouted their clan genealogies before battle, our family tree is a declaration of our intention to ‘continue to be’ and to continue in our traditional ways venerating our forebears. They recited their clan genealogies in Gaelic, shouted their war cries, then attacked.

Clans are family groups and their sept branches are all blood relatives. Highland families had a traditional seannachaidh, who could recite the descent of that particular family and state its relationship to other families in the larger clan.

For 2000 years in Alba, the Senchai, Seannachaidh, or Sennachie 
[sen-uh-kee] have woven the clan’s present members with the history, honor, deeds and lineage of those who have gone before them. These loyal and respected clansmen are appointed by the clan chief as professional storytellers of family genealogy, history, and legend.

Both a Pict and Gael tradition, this ancient position is a Genealogist, Historian, Bard, Orator, and tribal Herald.
The office of Ri-seannachie had supreme jurisdiction in matters of genealogy, and the duty of preserving the Royal pedigree. Each clan had its own Druid priests and judges under the chief Druid of the Pictish High King.

Disembodied Information
In the ‘Cult of the Severed Head’ in Provance, a head carved in stone was the repository of the soul and could live on and continue to speak to the living and make prophecies. Such heads
represented a medium for communication with the Other World, hinting at an older Celtic mythos and tradition — cult of relics, cult of the head.

Bran’s severed head continued to speak to his followers who returned it to Britain. King Arthur dug up the head, declaring the country would be protected only by his great strength. Brân the Blessed was like the Arthurian  Fisher King, the keeper of the Holy Grail. He has a mortal wound in the leg (Brân’s wound was in his foot) but stays alive in his mystical castle due to the effects of the Grail, waiting to be healed by Percival. In the Welsh version of Perceval, Peredur son of Efrawg visits a mysterious castle, but finds only a severed human head, not the Grail. Some said the Grail had the power to restore the fallen, like Brân’s cauldron.

In Norse myth, Mímir (Old Norse, “The rememberer, the wise one”) is renowned for his knowledge and wisdom but is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War.
Odin embalms the head of Mímir with herbs so that it would not rot, and spoke charms over it, which gave it the power to speak to him and reveal secrets to him. He keeps Mímir’s head with him because it divulges information from other worlds. It recites secret knowledge and counsel to him.

But cults of Southern France may not correlate with those of Britain or the Neolithic era and elsewhere as a coherent practice. Skull relics are still worshiped there with candles. T
he medieval town Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume has a basilica and crypt dedicated to Mary Magdalene said to contain the blackened relic of her skull.

Neolithic Jericho practiced burial of loved ones under their houses. Sometimes the severed head was removed and the skull buried after defleshing. Faces were reconstructed with plaster to retain the identity of the family member. Individual facial features were made with red and black paint. Some eye orbits were inlaid with shells and the skulls were decorated with hair and mustaches.

The notion of a ‘cult of the head’ remains controversial, but it is a fact we imagine it was so.
This powerful trope brings to mind cults of martyred saints who carry their immortalized heads. The Templars allegedly worshiped of the severed head of John the Baptist they called Baphomet, who talked to them and possessed “divine wisdom
.” Personifications of disembodied metaphysical entities are an ancient equivalent of media ‘talking heads’ as culture leaders.

What we can take from this practice is the primacy of the psyche for personification of the unconscious — the multiple personifications or perspectives of psyche. We spontaneously personify psyche all the time, without effort since it is a psychological necessity. Personifying allows the image to work on us — a potential way of knowing what is hidden in the heart. A grounded ego uses personification for growth.

To personify something from the unconscious is to treat it like a person with a sort of inherent autonomy motivated by purposes and intentions. We even lend it a voice and bond with it. Personifying in archetypal psychology is “the spontaneous experiencing, envisioning and speaking of the configurations of existence as psychic presences.” (Re-Visioning, 12)

Personifying is a way of making subjective experience, passionate identification, and indwelling images more tangible through conversation and relationship in symbolic form. Hillman (1975) called it “an epistemology of the heart, a thought-mode of feeling.” It imagines what’s inside, outside,
and makes this content alive, personal, and even divine.

We personify that which we love. This is the natural expression of mythic consciousness to mythic consciousness. Illustrious ancestors aren’t just statues of greatness. Through this spontaneous activity of psyche we enter myth “as if” it were real.

Such non-directive thinking or “soul-talk” is the key to understanding archetypes as both guides and different parts of ourselves. “Loving is a way of knowing, and for loving to know, it must personify. Personifying is thus a way of knowing, especially knowing what is invisible, hidden in the heart,” Hillman says in Re-Visioning.

“Personifying is a way of being in the world and experiencing the world as a psychological field, where persons are given with events, so that events are experiences that touch us, move us, appeal to us.”  “…all the figures and feelings of the psyche are wholly ‘mine,’ while at the same time recognizing that these figures and feelings are free of my control and identity, not ‘mine’ at all.” (Hillman)

“By means of personifications my sense of person becomes more vivid for I carry with me at all times the protection of my daimones: the images of dead people who mattered to me, of ancestral figures of my stock, cultural and historical persons of renown and people of fable who provide exemplary images–a wealth of guardians. They guard my fate, guide it, probably are it. “Perhaps–who knows,” writes Jung, “these eternal images are what men mean by fate.” We need this help, for who can carry his fate alone?”

Hillman notes that personifying is a creative function. Whether it is done pathologically or intentionally, it functions to “save the diversity and autonomy of the psyche from domination by any single power, whether this domination be by a figure of archetypal awe in one’s surroundings or by one’s own egomania. ‘ (Re-Visioning, 32)

In the family tree we don’t require the physical relic to honor the deceased, including the heads of the household. “To keep the light alive in the darkness, that’s the point, and only there your candle makes sense.” (Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pp. 133-138)

Jung stated, “It was as if my tools were activated by my libido. But there must be tools there to be activated, that is, animated images, images with libido in them; then the additional libido that one supplies brings them up to the surface.

If I had not given this additional libido with which to bring them to the surface, the activity would have gone on just the same, but would have sucked my energy down into the unconscious. By putting libido into it, one can increase the speaking power of the unconscious.(Jung, 1925 Seminar, Lecture 5, Pages 37-45).

The Big Tree
Doing one’s own genealogy, even if it has been done before, is the best way to integrate and digest it.
The ancestors do not really live today but are not fully dead either as living images. We can ensoul our growing branches best in the context in which they arise.

Relying on the work of others removes us a step from the core of the process; it might stimulate imagery, but it’s more like reading about a journey than making it oneself. Much of the nuance and functional relations are lost — the chaos, the struggle, the blind alleys. The healing work requires direct engagement for familiarity with the holistic image as well as the details of each family encountered.

Arguably, the family tree is the necessary foundation to psychological integration. We begin a long, slow circulation among the many branches of our tree. Jung says, “The circulation is not merely movement in a circle, but means on the one hand the marking off of the sacred precinct, and on the other, the fixation and concentration.” (CW 13, Alchemical Studies, Pg 25).

The circulation of blood in the arteries mirrors the circulation of sap in the tree, and the circularity of cosmological or metaphysical thought — analogical thinking that links the macrocosm and microcosm, above and below. The ancestral field has an immediate effect, both healing and challenging, on our whole lives.


•November 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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)