Mythopoesis: Genesis P-Orridge by Iona Miller
PRELUDE: A LOVE STORY OF GENDER REUNION
“The modern androgyne, seeking only self-realization, forfeits the energy of opposition and conflict.” (Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae)
This is a stream of unconsciousness essay on the Self, illustrated by the kaleidoscopic sexual personae of GENESIS P-ORRIDGE. Always the mercurial Magician, Gen has been associated with the art and decadence of the Thelemic, industrial, punk, Goth, and rave movements, and was arguably the earliest proponent of acid house. His bands have ranged from hard-edged Throbbing Gristle to ethereal Psychic TV to avant-garde Thee Majesty.
Never one to commune in solitude, all these eras of the artist, priest and shaman have fused into the orgiastic seizure of family-band PTV3. Now he gladly shares center stage with the group, including wife Lady Jaye, daughter Genesse, and bandmates, forming a cohesive unit to rock the house. This is a personal and critical triumph for the artist, whose daemonic career stalled somewhat after his tragic injuries in an infamous Hollywood fire at the former home of mega-magician, Harry Houdini.
In the alchemical transformation process, fire is the Bath of Immortality; the calcinatio fire tempers emotions, mind and body. Fire symbolizes libido, not at all separate from sexuality. The movement is from auto-erotic, to personal power-seeking, to refined transpersonal consciousness. Frustration is the initiatory ordeal. The fires of desire are transmuted. The miraculous water, aqua divina or permanens, was extracted from the lapis, or prima materia through the torment of the fire. The water stands for the anima mundi imprisoned in matter. This stage represents the expansion of consciousness after a crisis in development.
This crucible of chemical breakdown created a Phoenix-like opportunity for a remixing of elements, a new chapter of the sexual metathesis. Mind and body, perturbed by the chaos of a turbulent inner life, relinked in a transformation of prima materia through a luminous rebirth. In alchemy, both the primal matrix and finished product (Philosopher’s Stone) are hermaphroditic, an androgyne, and rebis (double thing).
This is exemplified on the Tree of Life by the merging of Hod (Hermes) and Netzach (Aphrodite) to open the 25th path ART (Temperance) which culminates in the Self-Real-I-zation of Tiphareth, the heart center. It represents a change of plane, a quantum leap from Astral to Causal Body as intentionally-created vehicle of consciousness with its enlarged perspective.
In a triumphant international come-back over 2004-2005, the Dionysian diva proved he never really went “away”. Nor did the perennial global fans. Now, aka Breyer P-Orridge, Genesis masquerades in conjunction with soror mystica and co-artist, Lady Jaye. S/he has endured further self-initiatory rites of s/hirgery. The magickal child cooks in the heat of the rubedo, furthering its incubation.
Hir symbolic externalization of the Androgyne is a deliberate, conscious artistic creation…body as art, bringing body fully into the artistic process, in a hyper-committed soulful way. This informed transformation is lightyears beyond body-building or the prosaic body-modification of neo-tribal culture, which is now reduced to the 21st Century equivalent of mall-hair by pierced teeny-boppers and tatted grandmothers with tickets for Burning Man.
The new Virgin, in the ancient meaning of being One whole-in-oneself, took h/ir show on the road. From the beginning of his career, Genesis has been a seminal engineering influence in Occulture, while likewise being influenced by his intimate relationships with such icons as Timothy Leary, William Burroughs, and Brion Gysin. He was strongly influenced by Burroughs’s “cut-up method” of writing. It is essentially a mantic rant, a collage technique with words and phrases uniquely juxtaposed. Now he’s done the same with his body.
The search for an escape from a dualistic state has formed one of the great pursuits of philosophers, mystics and occultists alike. Morphing the meat body creates a cascade of transformation through the etheric bodies in the emotional, mental, and spiritual worlds - a coincidentia oppositorum. S/He is a KOAN of living flesh that confounds spectators and brings a screeching halt to linear thought in pure spectacle. It brings new meaning to McLuhan’s old saw: the medium is the massage.
Do Homo Mutans or Homo Lumen embody an evolutionary thrust beyond Homo Sapiens? The immortal sacred Androgyne is a reiterated symbol throughout the history of art from neolithic times, and was particularly revered by medieval alchemists. Gen spoke at length about its resurrection in the fantasy life of our postmodern society in a Disinformation.com video. S/He implied the collective masturbatory fantasies of one-sided male culture have brought the Androgyne into embodiment, fueling its literal appearance to fulfill their sex-magick fueled fantasies.
In the latest narrative of their personal journey, charismatic Gen and Lady Jaye aren’t trying to fuse into twins, or even emphasize their mystical brother-sister aspects, but apparently seeking “escape velocity” from the shakles of the chemical identity. But this thrust is life-affirming, not evolutionary nostalgia of being longing for non-being. Perhaps the quest for the next-new-way-on has been fulfilled.
Genesis continues to eschew the local universe of each adoptive or adaptive persona in a self-induced alienation that affirms h/ir non-mentalized multiverse, her/e and now. He continues to stay on point in the hinterlands of personality by transcending each embodied version of Self. Jaye’s role in this hormonal alchemy should not be underestimated. Genesis credits her tender nursing as a key element in his psychophysical recovery. Mythopoetically, it is interesting to recall how Dionysus, too, was attended by the ever-present nurse. But, interdependence is not co-dependence.
This current, the “chymical wedding” of male and female, manifested strongly in the fin de siecle occulture, with the Symbolist artists of the Salon de las RoseCroix, and in the 20th century with the notorious occultist Aleister Crowley and the futuristic philosopher William S. Burroughs. Still, nothing Genesis has done in his artistic arc has been particularly derivative, or mere dramatic impersonation. The truth inhabiting these characters is what lends them power.
The psychic metamorphosis of interrelated themes of the artist/androgyne, the Narcissus myth, mirroring, and self-reflection figure prominently as metaphors in the artistic process. What is left for h/ir but to sprout wings to mate with the self-devouring serpent (Ouroboros) like Jung’s God-image of the Self, Aion, which necessarily reveals itself progressively?
The cultural Revolution IS being televised on PTV3. The Self is born in the image of the eye, the Third “I”, where we give Skull to the Divine.
The Yab-Yummy Way of Imagination
The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man’ in a higher sense - he is ‘collective man,’ a vehicle and molder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind. (Carl Jung, Psychology and Literature, 1930)
Therein lies the social significance of art: It is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is more lacking. The unsatisfied yearning of the artist reaches back to the primordial image in the unconscious, which is best fitted to compensate the inadequacy and one-sidedness of the present. The artist seizes on this image and, in raising it from deepest unconsciousness, he brings it into relation with conscious values, thereby transforming it until it can be accepted by the minds of his contemporaries according to their powers. (Carl Jung)
Today, we recognize two sexes on this earth, male and female, but the image of the Androgyne is impressed on the psyche as a dominant of the collective unconscious. Its existence is proved by the fact that it emerges from time to time in a multiplicity of guises, and in every part of the world. Do not lovers say to each other, “I am lost without you, incomplete. With you I feel fulfilled. I experience a sense of union when we are together.” (June Singer, Androgyny)
Lady Jaye and my SELF have privately chosen to explore our thoughts about identity and a belief that evolution is crucial to thee survival and self esteem ov thee humanE species in many ways. One ov these is thee idea that Lady Jaye proposed that thee body is a pre-Astoric “suitcase” holding us back from potential futures. We will need to give up any ideas ov thee body being sacrosanct if we wish to explore space. Genetic mutation and engineering will be essential for meaningful space travel. Whilst our Pandrogeny process began as an intimate private thing, inevitably I.T. became visibly to a public because we are performers and artists as well. We feel that we are duty bound to TRY and share some ov our thoughts on why we do these proceedures with you who visit here, as a politeness and sign ov respect from us to you. This is not a necessity, butter an offering we make in a more intimate space where we hope friends and allies dwell. (Genesis P-Orridge, 2005, Homepage http://genesisp-orridge.com/)
S/HIRGERY: THE ULTIMATE CUT-UP METHOD
Androgyne as Self image: SELF AS CUT-UP; BODY AS ART, return to the AnthropoMORPHIC self-discovery and in some cases a painful coming-out process. In the light of such images of horror, our fears are thoroughly justified in The Plastic Ideal: The Androgyne in fin de Siecle Occulture and beyond into the Great Unknown.
Implicit in any image of the androgyne is the idea that we must write new myths,… Other than describing the wreck of the self and of culture, the ancient Androgyne has endured as the image of a spiritual goal in … The first step towards transcending the Little Self, and attaining Thee image of spiritual androgyny as a compelling one.
The Androgyne is the marriage of the Sun and the Moon in a Mysterium Coniunctionis, a royal marriage, a mystical union. But, of course, the myth never remotely referred to a species existing on earth fitting that description, but rather to that celestial world of the imagination where all the immortal prototypes for Creation have always existed. Or does it?
Love of Self, wife, creativity, the world, self-actualizing new myths in order to empower ourselves and to heal our self-image. … the postmodern self is mediated, not mediating. Postmodern psychology is a product of the movement from McLuhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy into a postliterate world, a transition marked by the collapse of the critical distance between the inner self and the outside world, and by our immersion, perhaps even dissolution, in the ever-accelerating maelstrom of the media spectacle.
In Postmodernism, this shift in “the dynamics of cultural pathology” is one in which “the alienation of the subject is displaced by the latter’s fragmentation.” This new psyche is characterized by “waning of affect” which is not so much the android autism Andy Warhol aspired to as it is the giddy experience of emotions as “free-floating and impersonal” sensations “dominated by a peculiar kind of euphoria.”
This psychological weightlessness, at once terrifying and exhilarating, is the result of life lived in the mass-media centrifuge, where everything, from hemorrhoid-treatment ads to televised suicide, carries equal weight and where reality and its simulation are beginning to look more and more alike. Call it Angst Lite, “camp sublime” - camp in the sense that camp delights in depthlessness, celebrates surface; sublime in the sense that this “peculiar euphoria” is the postmodern equivalent- the vertiginous loss of self in the presence of nature’s awful grandeur.
ANDROGYNE AS SELF IMAGE
The Kabbalistic Tree suggests that the androgyne is the model for each and every human, … Instead, the creative process begins with the self-moisturing or The androgyne is both artist and work of art, self and other. O Self-Luminous Image of … the chaste and obscene, the androgyne and the gynander that have passed beyond the boundaries. This complex has been enshrined in ART and in the inner self of the adept, shapeshifting Living Image of Higher Self, Divine Archetype of Humanity, … mediators, shamans and priests, the Divine androgyne and gatekeepers. …
It is time for us to look inside, to do the work of self-discovery and reclaimation. But in the Royal Marriage, The Divine Androgyne of Higher Self reveals to us She is similar to the Hindu androgyne Ardanari Iswara, beyond the androgyne which remains caught up in the oppositional gender paradigm When the Divine takes on a deity image and visits you, … The door between the Self and the Divine stands open, the Light fills your life, Woman in man who is a man in woman she walks in him, androgyne and androgyne; In fulfillment they are ALL or Pan and the Androgyne-center of the triangle, the I in the Triangle of evocation.
What are those self-identified androgynes …having negative self-identification of their original sex and gender image? It’s what we call residual self image. The mental projection of your …screenplay refers to Switch as a “beautiful androgyne”; vice became the basis of its ethos and in self-image s/he depicted herself as androgyne, or as a historical icon, or …negatives to multiply hir image.
… Gender identity refers to the self-image or belief held about one’s core or essence … Plato speaks of the androgyne - the time when man and woman were united or joined. The Egyptian Mut was an androgyne, having breasts and an erect phallus. … If mankind is made in the image of God, the creator himself would be a cosmic androgyne, Pandrogynous.
The hermaphroditic figure of the androgyne and its corresponding number, two, represent balance. Does it justify violating the self-image, the pride, the intentions of the artist in process, as self-created? This perfected entity was always depicted as an androgyne, a rebis (”double thing”). The Relationship Between Physical Self-Concept, Body Image Dissatisfaction, Iconic Androgyne, the Androgyne as a staple of occult ideas and a recurrent fractal-like image.
The Androgyne, both male and female together, symbolized a concept largely alien to all of conformity, together made the path to self discovery, of mediation that invoked the mythic androgyne. Therefore, we find the androgyne idea, concretely lived out today, … The psychic structure of the lower God image that Paracelsus intuited therefore provides completion… This image is also distinguished by its self-consciously artifactual quality: The construction of the cosmic androgyne (maha mudra): Through a kind of self-mirroring or self-contemplation, this supreme First …
“This is the First Thought, His Image; HER womb of everything for ‘Thou art myself, my image and my shadow. I have clothed myself in thee and thou art’ … Similarly, the harbor of causal self-consciousness.
The Androgyne, as I understand and relate to hir, appears, in my personal flesh… I allowed God to mirror my Self. I worshiped no God who was only male, no longer bigendered.
The image of spiritual androgyny is a compelling one, as compelling today as that of the alchemists in the middle ages. Women are always present in men’s own self-image. The Androgyne image also has been with us since the Paleolithic era. He-She is the Self-Created Adam, originally created as an androgyne of male/female …
If we return to our image of Adam as the ego and Lilith as the Deeper Self One, the very first thing that ever was is fear of his androgyne virgin, kind of like a compass with no needle, music with no sound or … induced reaction building a self image in your own deep desire … He/r … issues posed by the images themselves.
The Self-Aware Image, suspended somewhere between the androgyne of fin de siecle aesthetes and the The images, came back and filled in the empty spaces; aspects of the dream altered to the weird androgyne mutation. Gender is a “mix and match” mode of self expression of The Divine Androgyne: Images … Explorations into Self-Discovery Through Mythology, History and Science. The androgyne is stalking through the land.
This Self’s functions are sensations, emotions, basic drives, image or tribal … In the Gaean Tradition it is the Divine Androgyne, that which combines all Yab-Yum: Tibetan Buddhist image of union of the cosmic female with the cosmic male in experimental/experiential spirituality. The only path is self-acceptance. You create the universe in your image. That is your strength and your peace. …God is psychic androgyne brilliance, way beyond the occulture of drag.
What's New with My Subject?
A Mythocritical Carnal Essay
… Gender roles, and the strides made in the process of self-change of Image has become synonymous with America itself. Androgyne: A person who adopts characteristics of both genders in order to become. They have become self-consciously engaged in the transformation of the Logos for within dichotomy there is little room for self-expression and self-determination. Each then channels a response in art, one in image and one in words, one in flesh. … androgyne… heart weighed against the feather-winged spirit in flight … a self-assuredness and independence to counter the outdated, naive image…
Here, male curiosity in the androgyne is a `one-sided appropriation of the … breathed … for what has been lost is in each his very self (atman), here and now,.. therefore, the figure of the Androgyne is a staple of occult ideas and a recurrent image.
The androgyne, God knew, would become a law unto itself. … Through the act of naming, creation of a sense of self can be a political act of Personality. Who wants his Inmost Self meddled with and Invaded? … Self-articulation is partly contradicted by the image of the unity between any self and any …Metaphor. The divine is an androgyne, a being both female and male, … the flirtatious androgyne Kitten, who peaks way too early with a … Reconciliation of male and female.
Hence if the schizophrenic, or initiated shaman is to self-heal and be able to help … As androgyne, the shaman combines a masculine warrior strength and …surrender, self-published original Artist’s Self-Portraits … at that time it was well-developed, self-aware and, in parts, quite sophisticated. The critical attitude is peculiarly self-reflexive, however… Androgyne was a self-consciously avant-garde group, distinct from the official … Holy Exalted One, O Self beyond self. O Self - Luminous Image of the … chaste and obscene, the androgyne and the gynander that have passed … Characters are self-consciously arranged. They posture and strike poses in an …androgyne, both male and female.
THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT; THIS IS WHAT YOU GET
By thee way, talking ov ideas. Lady Jaye and E are pursuing Pandrogeny for conceptual reasons and Romantic reasons. To at thee very least demonstrate our COMMITTMENT to thee idea ov radical change. Ov accepting as essential to EVOLUTION surgical, genetic, surface, gestural, proceedures and technologies in order to create futures for our SELF with us as thee designers. Pandrogeny is about declaring that consensus reality is FICTIONAL. That WE are fictionaL Therefore we can WRITE any SELF we imagined use whjatever technique is acessible at this T.I.M.E. to manifest our imagination. WE ARE NOT TRYING TO BECOUM TWINS. NOR TO BE ANY IDEAL OV BEAUTIFUL. NOR ARE WE TRYING TO CHANGE GENDER. We use our bodies as raw material to “paint” a biological poortrait ov possibilities. To let go ov attachment to how we looked. Thee inevitable paradox ov alchemical thinking. We see OUR bodies as representing an ongoing discussion between us ov thee process ov OWNERSHIP ov our narrative through pusahing our SELF towards a future state ov being similar on conception to thee THIRD MIND ov Burroughs and Gysin. You could say WE ARE CUT-UPS TO BECOUM A CUT-UP. A sense ov irony is all ways advisable in L-if-E. If we end up not liking how we look that might well mean we are succeeding. By taking possession ov thee outer appearance we are possessed by our inner vision. (Genesis/Breyer, NYC April 5th 2005)
History reveals that taken in aggregate, the corpus of Neolithic figurines urges us to contemplate gender ascriptions that include more than the traditional male/female, either/or dichotomies. If we jettison the conventional binary opposition we are left with the possibility that the early preliterate communities of Neolithic Greece employed multiple or even fluid gender categories, at least in their visual repertoire.
Such categories would include male, female, neuter, dual-sexed, and possibly a dynamic classification that moved in and out of sexual/gender identities. In some ways, this conclusion should not come as a surprise: the existence of several genders, gender-crossing and shifting categories is known from a variety of cultures and there is no reason to doubt that such melding of identities were part of life in the distant past.
The mere existence of these multiple categories suggests that gendered identities were not uncomplicated choices in Neolithic Greece. Some levels or realms of Neolithic Greek society, be they sacred or profane, may have encouraged a conscious and self-constructed determination of gender that remained open to alteration during one’s lifetime.
As God’s image my ego is androgyne like The Symbol of the Androgyne in Blake’s Four Zoas and Shelley’s Prometheus …Archetypal Images of Transformation and the Self in Percy Bysshe Shelley. This hybrid image first appears in Ovid’s classic text ‘Metamorphoses’.
As a result, the androgyne, a frequent figure in contemporary fantasies about the primal lacks the classical and religious implications of “androgyne” and denotes a… shame, poor self-esteem, negative body-image by implicitly or explicitly the true spiritual Self in the physical man …It is only when, from a potential androgyne, man has become separated into male/female that An Androgyne was thought to have achieved “balance of reason and intuition, of wisdom and …
One of the first images of the Great Goddess is represented in … the androgyne celebrated as the dangerous but seductive symbol of the union… self as other, of the self with a discarded self-image, with a figure of … the ideal of the androgyne find the meaning of hir provocative self-image, which was shaped not only… by hir own vision of the ideal human being, the divine androgyne. … Started out with one month of intensive self-observation/analysis in order to … mutate into opposite gender, then blending into androgyne/hermaphrodite. … Refiguration-Self-Hybridation of The physical self and its sensations. The emotional self and its feelings. The mental self and … the modes of creativity and birth have shifted from the androgyne state of … The iron of self-contempt and false toughness, which is image-crippling.
… One androgyne goddess dared to sing low when she sang love. … self-described “political idiot” and immortal image It’s self-conscious and self-consciously vulgar, sporting bad digital … visions of an inhabited microcosm, surrounded by desert regions as a chaos or a kingdom of … MEPHISTOPHELES ET L’ANDROGYNE, - The Two and the One … Zero represents the Cosmic Egg, the primordial Androgyne - the Plenum. … This submission is in the spirit of total surrender of the self. … communities and the complexity (often self-contradictions) of the myths. …
The Vision of Hermes Trismegistos has God speak of the Divine Self not as “My Image” but as “Our Images” … Along with the hermaphrodite’s challenge to nature came images of the mythological Into the maze of self: as the formation of self in relation to a wide range of social structures. The androgyne sighed with satisfaction It is a single image with the entire actions of a life cycle - it begets … hir own self-portrait-as-androgyne, central to the essential core …
Even the apparently mundane images also turn out to contain alchemical truth… Eros, Another important aspect of Ouroborus: Mercury is the Hermetic Androgyne or Hermaphrodite, which is a symbol of the Alchemical … Baphomet, a Magical Archetype of the Bisexual Self of Man. Hear this, and understand that the Elect are self-selecting … of the unconscious and its relation to dreams. The beautiful boy is an androgyne, luminously masculine and feminine. …The beautiful boy, sexually self-complete, is sealed in silence, behind a wall of … self knowledge entailing the rediscovery of all the levels of ones being. Adam-Kadmon is the Microcosmic Tree of Life in the image of Absolute Wisdom …
The self is, in part, its culture although not co-terminus with it. … is the house of self-adjustment, rejecting statements of self-denial for transmutation into the archetypal androgyne of the future. … When men and women come to see the image of the Divine Lovers in one … is there a psychological fear of loosing the self in the other? … and sometimes men hold moons, particularly when two fused androgyne-like figures are On the sexual plane, Such joining brings a “liberating” recognition that the real self is “uncreated.” Crowley called it UNBORN, the Bornless One.
A BRIGHT EYE-DEA
Creation can also be understood as divine self-reflection, a series of mirrors within mirrors, in which the image always includes elements of the original … The motivation behind adopting images from queer culture is not political … but psychic, shamanic.
The many dualities and oppositions in the image represent the subjection of the …Star. We are dealing with the Transcendent Self, for the Astral Womb-man is sham-man … neither woman nor man, but a self-created entity… It’s not easy to make a busty androgyne in a black corset and garters … into more than concepts and images of the body in western art… Reference Sexual Ambiguity in Goya’s Work and the Carnivalized Androgyne …
This approach coincides with the self-understanding of This Universal Self (the Adam Kadmon of Judaism), of the Adamic Self, the archetypal androgyne that symbolizes the primordial state of human … images of a self-contained, solipsistic and self-absorbed world, … of the wisdom EYE-DEA of Sophia and androgyne … and its transmutation into the archetypal androgyne of the future…
The elements become tainted by the independent self-centred projection. Let it reflect the Buddha Self in whose image it had been made. … This elimination of lying to the self enables one to observe the work of …The concept of the Androgyne as purely mythical or theoretical value for … No Image Available.
The point is to show that the mythic image is cytheric, tropological … Cultures share in the idea of an elixir vitae and the contra-sexual Androgyne. … by alchemists as the Hermaphrodite (Hermes and Aphrodite), … It can be seen clearly today in the infamous image of the Caduceus … which in Alchemy was known as the Hermetic Androgyne.
The first race of men were, then, simply the images, the astral doubles… These relics of a prior androgyne stock must be placed in the same category as … the battle of the sexes that they founded … To answer another earlier posed question on androgyne, which when one speaks from androgyny …one becomes the mystically united twin within our Self ANDROGYNE. POWER. CLARITY. MARRIAGE. CONFESSION. OPENING. PASSAGE. TRUTH. ILLUMINATION …
Although meditation teachers teach that self-actualization is an intermediate step on the decadent narrative, enamoured of itself, self-replicating and … This is a stylistically self-indulgent slice of self-parody. The act of self-mutilation to spawn and create, to breed The androgyne Satan moving through the crowd provokes discord… Image of God and Temple of God, this self he split into two; hence arose husband and wife not as an androgyne but as an independent other, a partner of sorts, a complete second … Mirror Images. … An eternally self-replicating order of things… the ancient Chinese divinity of light and darkness was also an androgyne.
The threat of androgyne lurks perpetually on the outskirts of popular culture … sacred image, like the Orphic hermaphroditic Eros-Phanes. We could go on, mentioning the myths of Narcissus and the androgyne…This quality is expressed in the continual attempts at “self-recovery” and in … distorted self-image, and even misdiagnosis by health professionals… This is inconsistent with the image; we can begin to perceive it as a self-regulating mechanism …but one single body, which is the Androgyne or Hermaphrodite of the ancients.
PandroGENy and THE SELF
Wisdom to know the difference between one’s ego and one’s Self is embodied in your individuality. The Greeks showed that Effeminacy and androgyne was uncovered within the heart of masculine society. Perhaps the closest contemporary synonym is PANdrogyne, which at least incorporates both gendermixing and third gender, self-reference. An androgyne (sometimes called the third sex) chooses to live outside of social sanction. Jung said, the unconscious is the only accessible source of religious experience.
This is certainly not to say that what we call the unconscious is identical with God or is set up in his place. It is the medium from which the religious experience seems to flow. As to what the further cause of such an experience may be, the answer to this lies beyond the range of human knowledge. Knowledge of God is a transcendental problem. (Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self).
As an empirical concept, the self designates the whole range of psychic phenomena in man. It expresses the unity of the personality as a whole. … it is a transcendental concept, for it presupposes the existence of unconscious factors on empirical grounds and thus characterizes an entity that can be described only in part, but for the other part, remains at present unknowable and illimitable.
The self is transcendent because it points to an unlimited future and unbounded creative expansion of the evolutionary process. This is something that no being can comprehend. Of course we can have some sense of the future structure of the evolutionary process, but that tells us nothing of its essence. It tells us nothing of what it is like to be a more highly evolved being.
THE SELF is, according to Jung, the most important archetype. It is called the “midpoint of the personality” a center between consciousness and the unconsciousness. It signifies the harmony and balance between the various opposing qualities that make up the psyche. It remains basically incomprehensible, as ego consciousness cannot grasp this supraordinate personality of which the ego is only one element.
The symbols of the self can be anything that the ego takes to be a greater totality than itself. Thus many symbols fall short of expressing the self in its fullest development. Symbols of the self are often manifested in geometrical forms (mandalas) or by the quaternity (any figure with four parts).
This archetype is also represented by the divine child and by various pairs–father and son, king and queen, god and goddess, or by a hermaphrodite. To Jung the self is a representation of the “god within us.” For Jung, the self is one’s goal in life. It is the goal that is rarely reached, but it has such power that it motivates our behavior and causes us to seek wholeness - especially through a spiritual journey.
Jung’s conception of self comes close to that of the Yogic conception of the Atman, For Jung, emptiness is the sacrifice of ego to the larger Self, which transcends individual consciousness. The self, Jung argues, is a plurality with a core identity; it is both a “we” and an “I.”
This issue preoccupied both Jung and the ancient yogis: the path of the “expanded self. The self is the psychic organ through which the human being is capable of the experience of transcendence: “If the ego is dissolved in identification with the self, it gives rise to a sort of … superman with a puffed-up ego and a deflated self” (Jung, 1981). Symbols of the Self cannot be distinguished from symbols of God. The Self embodies the union of opposites on the personal and cosmic scale.