Saturday, August 28, 2010

Angels & Demons: Duality & Paranormal Phenomena

I mentioned the Neoplatonists in earlier articles. The Neoplatonists believed in the concept of a world-soul, which they also also acquired from Plato. They called this the Anima Mundi. This world-soul or Anima Mundi was the realm from which emerged the gods and daimons. The Anima Mundi is also equal to Dr. Carl Jung's collective unconscious and I also believe it is Dr. Huston Smith's Intermediate Plane or Dr. Henry Corbin's Imaginal Realm.

The Soul of the World, collective unconscious, or Imaginal Realm-whatever noun we choose to identify this magical place with-cannot be known directly. The daimons, myths, and gods that emanate from this realm are, in a sense, metaphors for one another. It is also useful, I believe, to imagine the Anima Mundi/Imaginal Realm as the beautiful, calm reflective surface of a crystal-clear mountain lake on an enchanting Autumn night. Using this imagery, picture that the images on the surface of our lake are actually empty-or not "really" on the lake-but the surface of our magical lake can reflect everything. Then I think we have a good metaphor/analogy for Jung's collective unconscious/Anima Mundi/Imaginal Realm.

In other words the gods, daimons, and myths of the Imaginal Realm are not in the Imaginal Realm etc.--they are the Imaginal Realm etc. One thing that using the placid surface of a lake for our analogy to the Imaginal Realm that may give a false impression of this place is the sense of calm and serenity it gives. In fact, it is a dynamic, tempestuous place that constantly branches into "our" world-its tendrils leaping into the physical plane, the mental plane (our thoughts/imagination) and our psycholgical complexes and dreams.

The philosophy of alchemy gives us one of the most refined embodiments of the Anima Mundi. Mercury (Mercurius) personified a dynamic, living spirit in the physical matter and also the unconscious itself. "The mythical figure of Proteus, a favorite image of the Renaissance, represented a combination of the sea image and the personification: as daimonic offspring of the sea-god Poseidon. Proteus is the shape-changer par excellence-always himself, yet always appearing as something else."

"When Jung spoke of images, he referred especially of course to those archetypal images we encounter as daimons and gods. We must not be misled by the word "images" into thinking of them as somehow unreal. We should, on the contrary, approach them as Jung approached daimons like his Philemon-"as if they were real people" to whom he "listened attentively." He did not, we notice, treat them as literally real, as we (mistakenly) treat hallucinations or (correctly) treat people in the street...He treated them as metaphorical beings, as if they were real people. And it is this metaphorical reality, as (if not more so than) literal reality-as real as Philemon-that he called psychic reality." Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur, pp. 47-48.

There are two benefits for thinking of the Anima Mundi instead of the collective unconscious as the prime metaphor for daimonic reality. The first is that the Anima Mundi evokes the notion of the soul, with all of its religious and mystical implications as opposed to psyche which has been denuded of these connections by almost everyone except Jung and a handful of other thinkers. The second benefit is that the Amima Mundi suggests a plane of being that is as much "out there" as it is "within us," as opposed to how the "unconscious" part of the collective unconscious suggests as area of being that can be reduced to psychological factors.

W.B. Yeats wrote: "If all our mental images no less than apparitions (and I see no reason to distinguish), are forms existing in the general vehicle of Anima Mundi, and mirrored in our particular vehicle, many crooked things are made straight." From the human standpoint, the soul is a microcosm which is also composed of a deep, abstruse collective level or world-soul where all of the separate, individual souls meet. From the world-soul/Anima Mundi's point of view it is a macrocosm, a complete impersonal world which has the ability to paradoxically be made known in a personal manner (duality again--microcosm/macrocos, personal/impersonal) as individual human souls. Jung realized that the deeper we dig into our souls, the unconscious unfolds-turning inside out: "At bottom the psyche is simply the world."

The word "animism" is used, by and large, in a derogatory manner by Western society towards traditional societies-all of which, even if they don't have an intellection for it, perceive Anima Mundi. This is because Western culture, long ago, denied any sense of anima in Nature thus taking soul out of it and debased Nature to dead matter reacting in accordance with sterile mechanical laws. To cultures which are animistic, Nature reveals herself in all her glory as thourougly daimon-haunted. These people recognize the sylphs of the air, the genii of forest and mountain, numina of trees and streams etc. The amazing variety of daimons associated with certain places also have their opposite numbers in places of habitation, such as ancestral spirits and the "kinder and gentler" household gods. To people in animistic cultures no part of mundane reality is without the sacralization of everyday living or without a daimon who has to be awarded its share unless one wants to invite misfortune and mishap into their lives.

Daimons also love to inhabit areas such as sacred graves, stone circles, tumuli, and holy wells. Perhaps the lights seen hovering over crop circles and tumuli (among other sacred sites), are analogous in some way to "modern" UFOs that are spotted over power generating stations, nuclear reactors, military bases and reservoirs. If this is the case we would have dualities with the ancient and modern: ghost/fairy lights (ancient) hovering over stone circles/tumuli (ancient). UFOs (modern) hovering over military bases/nuclear reactors (modern). The military bases, nuclear reactors and the like would play the part of our modern "sacred" technological sites which we worship, as animistic cultures worship at stone circles or sacred graves and the like.

Geographical locations where a high number of UFOs are seen are called "windows." Other Fortean phenomena also seem to favor certain locations or "windows" on occasion. A window is certainly a good name to describe an area where there is more permeability between daimonic and ordinary reality--the "daimonic" and "ordinary" being perhaps another duality that is essentially the flip sides of the same coin.

Daimons are famous for haunting "boundary" areas. The anthropolist Victor Turner called them liminal ("threshold") zones. These liminal zones and the daimons that haunt them occur in a wide variety of areas physical and mental-many of which can be thought of in the form of dualities: consciouness/unconsciousness, day/night, old/new (example: at the turn of the year) etc. Other liminal zones that daimons favor are crossroads, bridges, the bases of mountains, and shores. Mobile home parks and caravan sites are frequented by strange beings, UFOs and other Fortean phenomena more often than other areas where people make their homes-especially considering their usually smaller size. Could this be because they are often located in liminal (boundary/threshold) zones between city and country? Perhaps also because these areas are "home" and yet "not- home" to so many people? Could these examples also be yet more evidence of duality?--city/country, home/not- home? Whatever one thinks of the duality issue-one thing can be said for certain with regard to these quirky places: Many people know of a magical, enchanted place whether it is largely known or private where our so-called "laws" of space and time, matter and causality appear to be undermined; and for a time-usually brief we catch a glimpse of a hidden order of things.


Alex Robinson said...

That was marvellous Devin - I really liked the thoughts in there.

The ideas of boundaries & where they are found was intriguing, I couldn't help thinking as I read how often I've come across strange deaths in just such places during my research.
I think I shall need a reread to make sure I haven't missed anything.

I hope you are very well & that your Autumn (Fall) is a magnificent one. Very best to you & yours as always xox

Middle Ditch said...

I really should be coming here more often. So much to learn. Here where I live is a place called The Dorset Gap. It is absolutely hidden and not many people know about it. It is very difficult to find, having to cross several fields and woodlands, but once you are there it's awe inspiring. The silence is deafening, only birds, no other sound. In the middle of the gap is a little box and in that little box is another. You can sign your name, address and when you visited. It's fascinating to read all those names going back many, many years. Then, when you look around you, you see six paths leading away from the gap.

Devin said...

Hey Alex---thanks so very much for your commnet and compliment---I appreciate it tremendously!!
I always especially enjoy it if anything I do here is similar to what others find---or helps other people with their research!!
Patrick Harpur's book is one of my top 5 non-fiction books that I feel are a "Must" for anyone into this type of research!!
I also hope you are very well and that it isn't too cold "down-under"--if it gets so--I will try to send some desert heat to you;-)
All the best to you and yours as wellx0x!!

Middle Ditch---thanks also so very much for your comment --very sweet of you!!
Dorset Gap sounds fascinating --I will have to look up and see if there is anything on the net about it--I think places like that are wonderful and intriguing!!
I think some people think I am OCD and weird--well I am haha--for telling them this---but one of the things I love doing is reading thru a guest book (last time on Kauai in 2000) and read peoples names--where they are from---and their impression/experiences of the place one is staying at!!
thanks so much for stopping by and all the best to you!!

benjibopper said...

I need to get me a bumper sticker (for my bike) that says "Proud Animist". Take back the word. But my slightly embarrassed Taoist side isn't sure it's a good idea. (Of course he's not sure it's a bad idea either, haha.)

X. Dell said...

Fascinating knowing more of the detail. I'm indebted to your depth of knowledge on this subject. It isn't one I would embrace, except in terms of how it explains human interactions based on the belief. The belief itself doesn't really interest me. So its a struggle for me to pay attention (it's kind of akin to taking a class in school that you don't like, but desperately need).

Over the years I've known you, you've consistently given me a lot to think about, and look up (as I frequently do when I leave MFM). So again, thank you.

Now to the text. You write:

"This is because Western culture, long ago, denied any sense of anima in Nature thus taking soul out of it and debased Nature to dead matter reacting in accordance with sterile mechanical laws."

I believe the reason for that was (again) the triumph of humanism. The political instability, the bloodshed, the tyranny that came from concepts stemming from this unconscious knowledge (e.g., divine right rule) made logocentric thought quite appealing, and has probably saved us from ourselves more often than we care to admit.

At the same time, there has been a sense of something lost. As I am currently writing about hoaxes, one of the things that I believes drives spiritual frauds (and there are so many) is this need to tap into the ur source of identity.

Epistemologically speaking, I don't see these knowledges as oppositional, but rather complimentary. Just as it wouldn't make sense to play golf with a single club, it's folly to examine a situation in only one way. The key is balance. Yet, that balance might be uneven (heavily rooted in the rational, but with an acknowledgement of the need for magic).

Devin said...

Hiya Benji!!
thanks as always for your comments here--loved the Taoist remark:-)
I was trying to think of one the lapsed Prebsbyterian in me would think--but my brain is running extremely slow tonight---all the best in the world to you my friend!!

Xdell--as always so great to have you comment here!! I am really enjoying reading your comments on this series and they are giving me as much to think about as the series (if you can call it that) is itself----I will definitely do some thinking on your paragraph after you quote my statement ---very interestng!! and I completely agree with you in your next para about the source driving spiritual frauds -----a person could do an enormous bit of blogging etc on this subject alone --from the Peoples Temple thru Heaven's Gate and betwixt and between!!
all the best in the world to you my friend!!

X. Dell said...

The connection between Jung and Nazism is somewhat nebulous. On the one hand, he demonstrates some antipathy towards Hitler, but some sympathy towards the ultraconservative nationalist factions that support and endorse the Nazis (some about it here. His friendship with Freud (as well as other Jews) makes this a more complex question, but I would say that Hitlerism and Nazism weren't always one and the same thing. In fact, I'm fairly certain that at a certain point, Hitelr's agenda collided with those whom the Nazis initially represented. Wikipedia's entry on Jung also gives a terse description of his relationship to Nazism.

Devin said...

Thanks for the link Xdell!! In fact in a bit going to research it more -went there a few minutes to look over over it ----and as always thanks for your comment!!
sorry so late getting to it---insomnia finally got the better of me and I collapsed for a bit and forced myself out of bed before my back went completely out ---at least it felt good to get some rest for a bit!!
I agree with you that the Nazi agenda and Hitler's were not one and the same --and even conflicted at times ----just as Marx, communism and the Sino/Soviet practice of it were (and are in the case of China not one and the same)
all the best in the world to you my friend!!