A Psychology of Jacob’s ladder.

So Jacob, having sorely ripped off his brother,

flees Esau’s wrath…

like a bitch..

er, yes… and in the desert he stops for the night. He dreams that a great ladder appears linking Heaven and Earth, with angels and a whole host of beings wandering up and down.

like the Oscars.. with the red carpet?

Kind of….

This dream is usually given the twist of meaning a new and progressive relationship with the Divine. An evolutionary step forward in consciousness. It seems like a two way street is opening up, a fresh concordat rather than just Yahweh plus megaphone. But as with all dreams we carefully need to take up the context…..

Jacob has just betrayed both his kinsmen to the bone,

and no goin’ back…

and he’s done it for earthly power…

and got away with it.

His transformation from Jacob to Israel indicates a new state of consciousness. But in what direction?

Jacob’s new incarnation of himself is as Vanquisher of the Dark Brother.  He has, developmently speaking and in terms of his own individuation, taken the easy road and passed up an opportunity for real growth . He opts to entrench the role of solar hero by being ‘The One’ at any price.

His dream comes on the heels of him depersonalising his brother, disenfranchising him, and cruely mocking his father.

This humiliation of God’s representative, his father, is lost….

..in the drama of looking to the self-same authority for blessing…….

and so the collusion is complete.

Everyone gets to live in bad faith.

When a child is allowed to get away with such stuff they regress and so does Jacob. This ‘special’ back door to God’s private apartments is the very same manipulative ‘gift’ you see time and again bought to therapy, touted as the happy childhood.

The child has in fact been bundled from the trail of how there seems to be no boundaries or rules around, care in fact, and is given some symbolic trinket of superiority as a compensatory gesture that, furthermore, keeps people’s eye off the ball…

of what is going on…

The golden boy has been blessed by Yahweh for stamping all over Esau as a representative of natural law and the Principle of Relatedness irrespective of his humanity.

Now, might has right rather than the other way around. The idealised Yahweh, having split off his shadow into Moab and She who must’nt be named, has a new-best-friend in the equally idealised Jacob/Israel who’s split off his darkness onto Esau.

Its a bromance.

…where both parties can indulge themselves.

God can act out his co-dependence without anyone noticing and Israel can behave without having to reflect or consider, in reality to stay comfortably small , abdicating choice (given I’ll smite you if you exercise the priviledge), and limiting the ceiling of success to the dizzy hights of being well mannered.

This ‘increase’, is only one from the point of veiw of the persona, which has indeed been refined and polished in one tiny corner of the psyche until it shines…

… with the proviso that any kind of relationship is better than none at all which is scarcely the careful  discrimination you might expect from a claim that consciousness is evolving here.

Consciousness is actually traded off against being special. You can do whatever you want so long as you subjugate yourself to Me.

I was at a wedding. A kid of about 7 was running about flicking up the ladies skirts. I grabbed a hold of his arm and growled at him that I’d tell his father if he did it again. My heart sank a little while later when the kid went up to his dad asking for something and the old man said, ‘take what you want..’

Jacob, as representative of the human condition regresses to an earlier developmental stage because Yahweh’s absence of involvement and failure to set more relational boundaries means that the temenos, the sacred space within which transformation takes place is not sufficient to allay overwhelming anxiety.

I can no longer talk to me.

an’ Yahweh acting very strangely…..

So what are we being taught about how to be in a relationship, about family loyalty and …about feelings?

Esau is landed with all the chaotic feelings and Jacob flees his ‘aggression’.

feelings are bad.

But values come from feelings.

‘Feelings always bind one to the reality and meaning of symbolic contents and these in turn impose binding standards of ethical behavior from which (we) are only to ready to emancipate ourselves.’ C. Jung

So, the luxury of being rid of ‘negative’ emotions comes at the price of being able to tell right from wrong.

An being special inste’ of loved.

And the expectation, repeated time and again, of relationships that are soured by a particularly toxic kind of jealousy. Not the jealousy of, ‘oh, you’re going off with someone else’. Or even, that its somehow bound to happen.

Its that you need anyone else in your life but me……..

because I really can be all things to you. Parent, muse, lover, confidant, drinking partner…etc.

No end to dat lis’.

And it would all be perfect and wonderful if only it weren’t for…


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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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