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Myths-Dreams-Symbols
The Unconscious World of Dream
intuitive knowledge


Understanding Your Dreams
The Individuation Process
Journey To Wholeness


Stage One: The Shadow
Stage Two: Anima/Animus
Stage Three: Mana Personalities
Stage Four: The Self
The Self is the centre and the totality of the entire psyche. It is the archetype which contains all the other archetypes and around which they orbit. It's something of a paradox, and extremely difficult for the conscious ego to accept.

Hero archetype: a Self symbol, but where the god symbolizes the collective unconscious, the hero is a mixture of it with human consciousness {Examples: Jesus & the Buddha}. It's an anticipation of an individuation process approaching wholeness.

The Self
Edward C. Whitmont, The Symbolic Quest: Basic Concepts of Analytical Psychology (New York: Putnam, 1969)

The Self draws its power exclusively from the collective unconscious; it is transpersonal rather than personal and is not conditioned by a person's individual experiences. The Self is both:

  • the "guide" of the process of individuation, the regulating center of the personality
  • the "goal" of the process of individuation, the symbol of perfect fulfillment of all potential (this is an unconscious goal, not the goal of the conscious ego)

Symbolism in Dreams and Narratives: Because the Self is the most complex of the archetypes of individuation, its symbolism is the most rich and varied. All symbols of the Self include the characteristics of power and impersonality; symbols of the Self are never peer figures, nor are they strongly individualized, vividly personal, or strikingly sexual beings. The Self may be symbolized by:

  • Persons: an aged seer or priestess, a wise old man or woman, a young child (i.e., the goal/end, or the beginning); the Cosmic Man, hermaphrodite, or Royal Couple; an inner voice, guardian spirit, daimon, or genius
  • Animals: Phoenix (bird consumed in flames and reborn from its own ashes); Uroboros (snake biting its own tail); Totem
  • Things: items that serve as the guide or goal of a quest—the Holy Grail, the Elixir of Immortality, the Star of Bethlehem, the Philosopher's Stone
  • Geometric Figures: especially counterbalanced and concentric geometric figures, such as the Hindu mandala, or the peace sign

Self Projection: Because the Self is so powerful, it contains both the concepts of Good and Evil. It is only projected onto transcendental figures, either images of God or the Devil, or religious leaders who are divinized by their followers.

Possession by the Self: Because the Self is associated with the deepest levels of the collective unconscious, it is extremely powerful. When possessed by the Self, the ego loses control of the personality through positive or negative Inflation (literally meaning "blown into"). Positive inflation results in megalomania as the ego identifies with the power of the Self and is carried away by the unconscious (in myths, this can be symbolized as deification; Herakles, for example, loses his mortal body in the funeral pyre but his spirit is carried up to Olympus by Athena). Negative inflation results in annihilation of the ego, which is completely overpowered by the Self, resulting in a state of complete withdrawal or catatonia (in myths, this can be symbolized as being swallowed up by a monster, turned to stone, etc.).

Integration of the Self: Because of its unconscious, transpersonal nature, the Self can never be truly integrated by the ego. What the ego must learn to do surrender its need to always be in control by recognizing the value of the Self's guidance and deferring to its superior wisdom. In myths this is often symbolized by the ego-bearer's learning to trust the mystical figures who are directing him/her even when their advice seems dangerous and contradictory. On the other hand, the ego must always maintain a safe distance from the unconscious, recognizing the dangerous power that can never be defeated or controlled.


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