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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

As Below, so Above – CREDO CXLIX

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus gives us the phrase “As above, so below,” indicating that archetypal processes operate on a descending level of planes. Now looking back over the years of my long life as I approach my 90th year to come(!), I see the thrust of my life’s work has been starting at the bottom and trying to demonstrate that the “great truths” of our earthly incarnation can be demonstrated as simple self-evidence! We can learn the greatest lessons from the smallest, humblest objects!

This is the basis of the wisdom of fairy tales, proverbs, and even jokes, which contain the essence of religious and hefty philosophical classics. In the past these contained not abstract but physical “object lessons.” Most people disdain them because they are so simple; and thus the more complicated language is used to reach sometimes absurd definitions. Here is a quote from The New Yorker I used in my first book, Jungian Symbolism in Astrology:

  From “Prolegomenon to a Theory of Religion,” by Gerald James
  Larson, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
[3.1] The Definition. Within the context of these considerations, let me now proceed to a definition of Religion and to offer as well two corollary definitions that grow out of the basic definition. I suggest the following: Religion is a “complete system of communication” (or a “form of life”) showing in primarily “commissive,” “behabitive,” and “exercitive” modes how a community comports itself when it encounters an “untranscendable negation of . . . possibilities.”

I still have to laugh every time I read it!

What I am suggesting is a device to finding your own wisdom. If you are familiar with the basic tenets of alchemy or astrology, so much the better, but these are not necessary. Plain common sense will do just fine!

1. Look around the room and concentrate your attention on one thing. Ex: wrapping paper (a noun). Ask it: What do you do? (The answer will be a verb.) I conceal.

2. Think now of what this process suggests. Jot down your observations.

3. Its purpose may be to hide a gift, protect what’s wrapped. It differs from what it wraps. It hides the contents.

4. Thinking symbolically, what obvious example might you come up with: How about our body? How does it differ from its precious contents? Your consciousness? Your emotions? Your fears? The real unvarnished private you? Your unconscious? Your unique being!

In Jungian psychology the wrapping paper is the persona, the wrapping paper that we present to the world. My father, a Pisces, was a flaming extroverted friendly representative of the company he worked for. Cheerful, engaging, and successful. When he came home to the hotels we lived in in so many different countries, he became almost childlike, rivaling me for my mother’s attention! His mother died giving him birth, and he chose to turn my mother into his; this resulted in his having a mistress, much to my mother’s distress.

Actors are capable of changing the wrap by consciously assuming other characters. And, in a way, all of us assume different “roles” every day. This makes us socially adaptive beings. Only the very shy, introverted people use plain brown paper to hide behind.

It also is manifested unconsciously by alcohol! Drugs? Some introverts, when tipsy, become hilarious extroverts; some extroverts, on the other hand, become sentimental introverts. Extremes turn into opposites.

I disgraced myself in the hospital when delivering one of my daughters. I was given a whiff of something for pain, and as the doctor was stitching my torn cervix, I started singing at the top of my lungs, “Oh give me something to remember you by . . . !” Oh dear! I’m afraid this daughter has never forgiven me. I just became unwrapped!