Shaman Mediator Transition
5 december 2021
Dr. Deborah Bryon
Indigenous people have been referred to as “primitive” by Western anthropologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists (including Carl Jung) because they live in a state of participation mystique with their nature world. Jung’s (1970) perspective on “primitive man” was a byproduct of the culture he lived in. Jung believed that projections originating from the archetypal material of the collective unconscious could never be fully assimilated into conscious awareness, or integrated by the ego. However, Jung did believe in the importance of becoming conscious of aspects of the archetypal and psychoidal realm through symbols and images. Jung (1959, par. 620) wrote, “Anyone who overlooks the instincts will be ambuscaded by them.” Jung proposed that emerging out of and separating from an unconscious state of fusion provided us with a vantage point from which to reflect upon the experience of being in it.
The modern world demands that we differentiate, to navigate our way through in the daily situations we encounter. Within the context of modern culture, Jung’s (1969) idea that balance is created by holding a “tension of opposites” between aspects of the unconscious and conscious mind, and through the cultivation of a symbolic process, has utility. In addition to Jung’s (1969) method of achieving balance through differentiation, his notion of individuation - that psychological and spiritual transformation takes place as an individual journey toward wholeness - also has function in the contemporary world.
Having established our sense of ourselves as individuals, we are coming full circle and are experiencing a need to return from where we came. The psychic pendulum always swings back in the opposite direction in compensation – a psychological dynamic that Jung (1956) saw as a fundamental self-regulating function of the psyche. There is a lot we can learn by taking a “primitive” approach to understanding the world. It offers a means of reestablishing a sense of equilibrium in our modern world.
The natural world is struggling to find ways of restoring balance. In a reparatory reaction to the cultural abaissement du niveau mental of our time, the energy of our collective spirit is straining to hear the faint voices of the natural world, currently being drummed out in the noise pollution of industry and commerce. Many of us are struggling to remember the practice of keeping our ear to the ground – and what it feels like to be in our bodies.
We are listening to our dreams, attempting to bring the images back with us to the day world by retrieving them and holding as sacred in our conscious awareness. Some of us are feeling the need for stronger spirit medicine that will penetrate deeper into our somatic psyches, which we can share in our communities. The longing to return to our primordial roots in the natural world that is slowly emerging in the collective psyche, is growing stronger. A new dawn is coming alive in our culture, and we are searching to find the way back an experience of the unus mundus, or oneness of the world.