Carl Jung

Snake on a Plain-- And Psychological Projection

The state of Ohio is home to an important and mysterious snake effigy that archeologists have said is "arguably the most recognizable icon of ancient America."  Built by the Indigenous people of North America, the 1300-foot long undulating serpent has been declared "the largest survivng effigy mound from the pre-historic era" and National Geographic listed it as a "Great Wonder of the Ancient World". 

In my research for this blog post, I also

Hey Stanford. How About Collaborating With Other Smart People and Coming Up With Some More Useful Words to Describe Women's Negotiating Techniques?

Remember when people used to post ads in newspapers for significant others? 

SWF looking for male 5"5 or taller, must be nice, like to laugh, do fun things, meet new people.  555-5555. 

My dad saw an ad like that decades ago and said, "What does that word 'nice' even mean?  How vague.  How

When you're not the favorite child

This article on favorite children from the New York Times resurfaced in time for Father's Day yesterday.  It's interesting, and reassuring just to know it's a universal problem.  One commenter named Dave from Omaha had a sad story,

As children, we 5 siblings, 4 boys and one girl, got along famously. I can count the fights between us on one hand in our entire childhood. The favoritism to the oldest, a boy, was accepted and largely unquestioned. His post-high school education was funded 100%. Books, tuition, room, board, car and spending money. When I attended college I was given not one red cent. Others experienced the same. He was taken into the family business and made wealthy. He worked hard, but he had opportunities not given the others. Dad died last year and it came to be known that the oldest will benefit from the estate far more than the others. To the tune of millions vs. a few tens of thousands. That was the last straw. Each of the five have gone their separate ways and we can't be considered a family any longer in any more than name only. Favoritism unchecked will destroy a family. I know.

One commenter said she wished the article provided helpful tips into what to do if you're not the favorite.  I agreed- the article didn't provide any insight into how to heal from not being the preferred sibling, so I replied to her.  Here's what I wrote.

I wish the author had consulted a Jungian therapist for her article.  I think what Carl Jung would say is that children are manifestations of their parents' owned and disowned qualities of their psychic structure.  Some of our children, we can project our desired qualities onto successfully (ie. they don't bounce back in our face and remind us of how awful we are)- these are our favorite children; whereas some of them we cast our shadow selves onto- these are the unowned qualities that we think are bad or out of control and are having trouble integrating- the children that receive these projections are the black sheep, the scapegoats for our unprocessed unconscious material.  I'm not totally doing Jung justice here, but you get the jist.  When we haven't been favorited by our parents, we have to recognize that we're the bearer of our parents' shadows- it's not personal, and with enough growth and maturity, we become the parents of our parents, helping them access those unintegrated qualities safely and in love.  But who the hell lives long enough, has the inclination, or starts their healing journey soon enough to get to that point?  Most of us, if we're lucky, will only have enough time on this earth to process the gut wrenching pain of being the neglected child and learn to parent ourselves.  And we parent ourselves through meditation.

So what do I mean by that.  When you're not the favorite child, your essential qualities haven't been mirrored back to you very well, meaning you haven't felt "seen" for who you are.   In neurobiology, they would say that our mirror neurons haven't been attuned to by our parents' mirror neurons, without which, we don't have the all-important emotional resonance we need from them, out of which a sense of safe attachment is derived. 

Fortunately for these children, the intrapersonal attunement we achieve between our own minds and our nervous system during meditation has the same healing effect on us as if we were being resonated with by our parents.  In other words, it's been scientifically proven that compassionate self-observation through meditation offers the same soothing effect on our mirror neurons that are craving resonance as you would have if you had had better interpersonal attunement with your parents.   In this sense, these children are able to provide the parenting to themselves that they never received as children. 

Where I read this latter neurobiology stuff is in Dr. Daniel Siegel's book The Mindful Brain.  If you want to know more about the technical details of how meditation has the same effect on our brains as being mirrored by a parent, check it out.

 

Hell goes round and round

Every religion or spirituality has their own unique way of describing inner phenomena.  They're coming at it from a different narrative, but they're really describing the same thing.  When I was a Christian, I read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, and I remember one devotional very clearly- it said something like "When you fail a test that God gives you, He cycles you

Why I use Tarot Cards

  Tarot cards are an intuitive way of getting a beat on the energy of a particuar situation.   Image from Fortune Magazine. 

Tarot cards are an intuitive way of getting a beat on the energy of a particuar situation.  Image from Fortune Magazine. 

This summer, my landlady needed a cleaning agent to kill some pests, and I knew I had exactly what she needed, although it was nowhere to be found in any of my likely storage places.  A few days after I'd promised her I could help her, I decided "what could it hurt if I asked my tarot cards?"  I did a three-card reading and the answer I got was that it was "behind [or after] addictive substances."  I don't have any addictive substances amongst my possessions- illegal anyways- but the closest I could think of was wine bottles, so I went to the storage room and checked at the back of a shelf behind some bottles, and voila- there it was.

Two days ago, I read an article on Fortune Magazine about how more and more executives are turning to psychics, astrologers, and tarot card readers to make important business decisions.  From the perspective of the service provider, this is a good business to be in if you know your shit.  Some of them charge up to 800$ an hour to give their clients insight into their competitions' business.  I have worked with three astrologers- one of them studied with Carl Jung's daughter, and she charges 400$ CDN for 80 minutes.  Most of her clients are executives, as she inadvertently revealed in a huff of impatience with me one session.  She can afford to be picky; she books a year in advance, and she expresses a certain displeasure with you if you don't take the opportunities that she tells you about.  Mr. M and I were referred to her by a former Pepsi exec and Fortune 500 VP that we met at a workshop.  He'd used her to get through a divorce and found her to be extremely helpful.

Through experience, I have learned to take my horoscopes with a healthy dose of salt and rely more on personalized readings from astrologers who are actually reading my chart.  I do really like one website, though, for their horoscopes: astrolis.com.  One day this past May, after having read their horoscopes for a good year, I decided to click on the "tarot" section, wondering what baloney they were going to try and feed me, and when I clicked on the three cards, three cartooney pictures were revealed.  I read the descriptions beside the pictures, and the sentiments in the card mirrored the general gist of what I was going through, so I asked another question and clicked on the cards again. 

That was the beginning of my adventure with tarot cards.  Since then, they've forwarned me about a break-up, warned me what it would be like if I went back to an old boyfriend, told me [correctly] that my next boyfriend would be younger than me, helped me understand why someone was being cold with me, pointed me in the right career direction, and helped me make good decisions while apartment hunting.  Right now I'm using them to find something else that got lost last summer.  They can be insanely tricky to read due to multiple meanings, or their meaning can be clear as day- the more you use them and sit and think about their meanings, the better reader you become. 

Yes, there's a lot of hokiness out there, and you do need to be careful.  My ex and I visited a palm reader for kicks last summer in an old, smoky, run-down house in Philadelphia, and she was way out to lunch.  On the other hand, I had a tarot card reading a month ago, and she was off on some things [and I knew it], and embarassingly accurate in others.  You can find quacks and frauds just as easily in a financial planning company or a law office as you can in a psychic's youtube channel.  You can also find people who are grounded and wise in both places.  Neither needs to be discounted wholesale, you need to follow your gut- ask a trusted friend for a referral.  And of course, you get what you pay for.  400$ or 800$ an hour is going to give you much better quality information from someone with much more experience than someone who charges 50$ an hour.

City Planning, Politics and the Human Body

 In the Enneagram personality typing model, there are several triadic divisions of the types- several ways you can slice the 9 types 3 ways.  The division of head, heart, and gut are is just one of them.  The gut types, types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types, and there's a central issue for them around anger- they over-express their anger (8), they deny it (9), or repress it (1).  Types 2, 3, and 4- the identity types have a central issue around shame- they are the heart types.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head types, and their central issue is around fear- fear of invasion (5), fear of underpreparedness (6), and fear of cessation of arising (7). 

In the Enneagram personality typing model, there are several triadic divisions of the types- several ways you can slice the 9 types 3 ways.  The division of head, heart, and gut are is just one of them.  The gut types, types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types, and there's a central issue for them around anger- they over-express their anger (8), they deny it (9), or repress it (1).  Types 2, 3, and 4- the identity types have a central issue around shame- they are the heart types.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head types, and their central issue is around fear- fear of invasion (5), fear of underpreparedness (6), and fear of cessation of arising (7). 

There's a distinction to be drawn between North-enders and Sout-east-enders in my city, Regina.  I don't know how it ended up this way- maybe the division started with the Ukranian labor workers' families being excluded from Regina elite life when the city was being laid out, or a certain type of person wanted to move close to the university or the Legislative building, or maybe only certain types of people were welcome around Wascana Lake.  Either way, North-enders and South-East-Enders have turned out to have quite different "personalities".  I think it's the same difference that exists between LA and NY, between Canadian Liberals and Conservatives, and between American Democrats and Republicans.  In Regina, ask a house-shopping East-ender to look at houses in the North end, and they might do it, but they'll probably bristle first.  Ask your North-ender clientele to if they'd consider moving to the East end, and they'd probably only do it in desperation.  I don't know the stats about this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say there's about as much wealth in the North end as in the South East- construction is booming at both ends- so I'm not attempting to disparage either ends of Regina.

Now I COULD TOTALLY BE WRONG ABOUT THIS; this is just an idea that floated through my brain a couple weeks ago, and i wanted to write it down.  

My dad used to repeat this axiom, that small minds talk about things, mediocre minds talk about people, and great minds talk about ideas.  His belief- which isn't actually his, by the way- is part of the heritage of the West's deification of the head- I'm going to say this started around the turn of the 20th century.  IQ tests determined peoples' entrance to university and if they could get certain jobs. This belief has cost us dearly.  This of the lack of progress that has happened because of stringent partisanship.

Ancient religions, however, acknowledge plural brains- and this is my argument- that Regina's North enders and South-East enders use different "brains", and hence have two different wisdoms.  In the Chakra system, there are 7 "chakras" laid out vertically on the body- centers of energy that relate to different functions of our psyche.   The lower chakras have to do with one's foundation, how one defends against the outside world, and how we move.  Action is the key word here.  The basic human right at the first (the lowest) chakra is "to be here and to have".  There is a lot more I could go into to describe this more, but I have to run, so this is going to be short and sweet.  Evolutionarily, this is the first part of the psyche to develop- the part that defines our boundaries, our separation from mother.  In the elementary school where I work, I notice a lot of KDG, grade 1 and 2 teachers are body-types.  Their wisdom arises around a body intelligence.  (This isn't to say that body-types are less intelligent!  Not at all.  Just at the top of my head, one of my intellectual heros, Carl Jung, was an Enneagram type 1w9, Martin Luther King, an Enneagram type 8w7, and Abraham Lincoln, an Enneagram type 9- great thinkers with their wisdom around the body).

The next set of chakras are around the heart, and we won't go into that so much, but you could probably associate that with down-town Regina.

The next set is the head.  The fact that the university is in the south end probably has something to do with this, but South East enders, known for having the highest ratio of university degrees in one riding (the one with Ralph Gooddale as the MLA) is overall, a head space.  Again, it's an error to put head intelligence above body intelligence- it unfolds later in human development, and it sits on top of the body, but later in life, these head people stumble over themselves if they don't consciously develop a body intelligence, ie. if they don't put their ideas/thoughts/values into action.  Same thing with the body types- when they start to get conscious about their development, often it's their head center that needs opening.  

This is super rough, but as a heart/head centre person, I can acknowledge the brokenness that comes from being undervaluing the body/action/movement.  Enneagram wisdom has a lot to say about the integration of the whole body.  The disdain of one centre of intelligence for the other is at the root of the spiritual poverty of politics- the polarity between two ways of viewing reality.  What they really need is integration with each other.

Question for Bill Nye

Big Think, an American think tank, invites readers to send in videotaped questions to Bill Nye.  I sent in my question yesterday about how the Greeks viewed the number zero- how they didn't want to adopt it, even though it could have helped them in their math and science, because of what it represented- the void, nothingness,

Open letter to the National Science Foundation

I was watching some Bill Nye videos online today, and there was a dismissive comment made about astrology being a pseudo-science.  I guess I'm really late to the astrology table and I haven't learnt to cower in fear before the scientific community, I suppose, so I was really surprised.  Everyone I've introduced astrology to has had their jaws drop to the floor with how accurate it is.  So I decided to google, "Astrology pseudo-science", and it turns out I'm on the wrong side of current thinking on astrology among scientists.  Well, I aim to change that. 

Tonight I wrote a letter to the National Science Foundation, who, every second year, survey Americans on, among other things their views and opinions on scientific matters.  One question asks respondents, "Do you think astrology is scientific?"  And to the horror of the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, in 2014, 45% of Americans thought astrology was somewhat or very scientific. I admire these guys a lot, but I disagree with them on 1) the validity of the question's wording, and 2) their interpretation of the statistic.

What does it really mean to "believe in" astrology, and how can the NSF encourage a little more sanity and groundedness around Americans' spirituality?

Hi there, my name is Erin Mulligan and I'm the owner of Rhode and Company in Canada where we (I for the moment) advocate for better spiritual literacy.  We also advocate for scientific literacy, just so you know; we just believe one is no greater than the other. 

I have a suggestion for changes to the wording in your question on your Science and Engineering Indicators poll about opinions on astrology.
 

You ask if Americans think astrology is scientific, but my guess is you're actually trying to gauge if people think it's accurate, or useful, or if they make decisions based on what they learn from their chart.  Am I right?  Of course it's not scientific.  You'd have to change the definition of science in order for a wisdom tradition to squeeze into the Aristotilean delineation around logic and reasoning.  Asking if astrology is scientific is like asking if women are men.  Clearly they fall into very distinct categories; one is for knowing the outer world, and the other is for knowing the inner world and they use different skill sets entirely.  You certainly wouldn't use science to measure someone's emotional intelligence, so why is astrology- a beautiful, robust, and incredibly useful system being measured against its "male" counterpart? 

Carl Jung would have called these two categories I'm referring to as the masculine and feminine principle, or the animus and the anima; Asians would call it the yin and the yang.  My guess is it's probably a little out of science's grasp to try and measure a mystic tradition, so why go there?  As far as I know, astrology isn't trying to impress science, just like women aren't asking men, "Am I a legitimate human being?" and Italians aren't asking the French, "Are we French enough for you?"  Astrology is a language unto itself that takes many years to learn, and decades to master.

By selecting, "yes, I believe it's scientific" pollsters are opened up to guffaws by actual scientists like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who know that you need to meet a certain set of standards to say something is scientifically valid- a legitimate pursuit, but not astrology's aim.  Asking people to judge if astrology is a science necessarily makes them look foolish because astrology is in an entirely different epistemology, just like the Buddhist practice of mindfulness is a third and equally powerful epistemology.

Self-knowledge correlates with higher emotional intelligence, which in turn correlates with better leadership skills and reported life happiness-- all skills neceessary for getting the world's population out of some of the toughest dillemmas it's ever faced.  And yet the inner world is a very vague and mysterious place sometimes.  Ask any wife if their husband can clearly articulate why they always [fill in the blank with something that annoys the hell out of them], or ask any man if their wife can do the same.  Just like women's medicine has always baffled male doctors, so we don't expect male scientists to automatically "get" a feminine spirituality*.  It takes a motivation to start with usually, like a divorce or a death in the family, or a serious illness, and then a journey begins.

Not only do we call on society to honor the male and female principle, but as Jung also said, we have both the feminine and masculine within each of us, meaning all of us have the impulse to explore and learn about our outer worlds, as much as to explore and learn about our interior world.  In men, the latter impulse is discouraged, as you are probably well aware, and as the numbers of STEM graduates reflect.  Making "believing in astrology" a lightning rod for scientists by getting pollsters to conflate it with science does nothing to encourage the self-knowledge journey (which, by the way, happens in men later in their careers, often as they're retiring and can't have the same impact as if their aha! moment happened in their 30's).

On the other hand!  We agree that making decisions based on horoscopes in the newspaper or online is quite a bad idea.  General horoscopes like that are written in very, very broad brushstrokes based on the 12 ancient archetypes.  Not always, but sometimes they can be quite accurate-- I got into astrology because I read a horoscope that said I was going to double-book myself that week, and that Wednesday, I actually triple-booked myself.  It made me do a double-take.  However, I have also then gone on to make the mistake of basing decisions on what I read on a horoscope from the internet, and now that I've learned my lesson, I just get readings done by a  professional astrologer which are more accurate because they have my specific birth data.  So I no more advocate for sloppy spiritual practices than you do for sloppy scientific ones.  My astrologer, by the way, studied with Carl Jung's daughter and is one of the most highly sought-after astrologers in the United States.  She was recommended to me by a male 50-something American angel investor, a former Fortune 50 executive who has his own spiritual practice now.


The mission of my company is to raise the profile of ancient self-knowledge traditions that grew out of Socrates' admonition to know yourself before pursuing any other kind of knowledge.  Science, math, and engineering are wonderful and meaningful pursuits, but in order for their practitioners to be fully "in touch" with reality, they need to be counterbalanced by the feminine principle of the dark, mysterious, inner, and the spiritual.  These characterisitics are notions that balance out the brazen, often unfounded over-the-top self-confidence and old-boys' club mentality that has gotten our environment into some pretty deep trouble.

In order to encourage thoughtfulness, groundedness, and sanity around spirituality, I ask you to please re-think how your astrology question is worded.  I believe you can make a difference in western mentality by changing it so people aren't forced to choose between astrology and science. 
 

All my best,

Erin Mulligan

Rhode and Company

 

*By calling astrology feminine, I don't mean to exclude men from the practice or benefits of astrology.  I just mean it calls for a kind of intuition that Jung associated with the anima.  Any man can develop it, just as any woman can develop characteristics associated with the animus.

Next step: Now that gay marriage is legal, let's go all the way with gender issues

I wrote this manifesto last night.  It started off that I was just going to write "I fucking love immigrants" somewhere on my site- I couldn't figure out where, so I was like, "I'm just going to write a manifesto, and I'll include that in there. (I don't know why but I just love immigrants sooo much.  They've added so much to Regina over the last 30 years.)  So but the rest is good too- that's my call-to-action for the Western world.

  Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.   Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

Carl Jung recognized that we all have the male and female principle within us.  Maybe not like this.  Maybe in a more ethereal way.  Image unattributable because it's from one of those leech sites with all those ads.

1.  We call for equal status for science, math, logic, and capitalism on the one hand; and mysticism, the void, spirituality and myth on the other.  In Jungianism, these two elements are the animus and the anima; the male and female principles; in the Asian tradition, the yin and yang.  They both originate in similar times and cultural contexts, and they should be rejoined together after millenia of separation.  Neither is superior to the other, nor can they operate fully without the other.  Both are needed for balance in all areas of life. 

  Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.   Image from Wikipedia.

Copernicus was a physician who studied astrology.  The two fields have a surprising amount of overlap.  Image from Wikipedia.

2.  We champion A) self-knowledge (inner) education for the corporate and scientific (yang) communities; and B) business and tech (outer) training for communities of a yin inclination.  Both sides need the other to be fully in touch with reality, because in both camps, our egos viciously lead us away in search of false realities, cementing our antimony.  The future of the planet depends on learning about the interior world as much as the exterior world, and vice versa.

3.  We believe that when more people practice mindfulness, and learn to apply the Enneagram, and other self-observation and self-knowledge tools, the world will be a better, healthier, and safer place.  Self-knowledge engenders leadership; emotional intelligence brings about more "presence", as opposed to reactivity and craving, which the Buddha warned against.

4.  We call for political leaders with a mindfulness and self-awareness practice instead of those who are identified with a particular party.  When self-awareness practices become mainstream, bi-partisanship can be achieved, opening us up to more creative solutions to the world's problems. 

5.  We fucking love democracy.  In the end, though, the capacity for self-awareness is going to be more radical and effective than democracy is currently. 

  New immigrants to Regina, 2013 .  Image from cbc.ca. 

New immigrants to Regina, 2013.  Image from cbc.ca. 

6.  We also fucking love: immigrants, female orgasm, the internet, entrepreneurship and venture capital, High Maintenance (although sobriety's great), Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrology, New York, LGBT, history, pictures from your vacation, sarcasm, and this.