The Sacred Marriage.

Jung and Assagioli spent an afternoon at Bollingen arguing about the nature of the Self. It got quite heated because they were in some disagreement, Jung arguing for a totality of the Psyche, Assagioli arguing for Contentless-ness and No-thing-ness.

You could say these very different perspectives were like yin and yang but that doesn’t quite cut it. You could invoke the story of the four blind mullahs all trying to describe an elephant from its trunk, foot, ear and tail respectively. Of course, they say different things, though its all the same creature.

But that isn’t right either. What Jung and Assagioli were doing was wrestling with the cut and shut legacy of Single System systems to our collective spirituality which mangled together spirit and soul such that we tend to use the terms interchangeably despite their great difference.

If the early church was to have the unity required to fend off persecution, it needed to pitch salvation as something that could only be attained through Itself. To this end people could not be having their own experience or finding anything ‘within’. So a great many of the spontaneous metaphors which sprang up to express ‘spirit’, the divine spark which transcends mediation by cultural organs, like those contained in gnostic texts at the time, were denounced as heretical.

‘The Divine Spark is not subject to the Law’, said second century Gnostic Valentinus.

Emperor Constantine was outraged. He not only outlawed Valentinian ideas. He made it a mandatory and summary death sentance to own his writings. And yet Valentinus was very nearly made bishop of Rome within a mere hundred years of Christ’s death so his interpretation of those events must at least have been popular.

And so they were, except the idea that Wisdom /Sophia had slipped a divine seed into Humanity via her gardener, Yahweh, without him noticing, through which Eternity-as-Ground could be glimpsed, and more, this side of death and contrition…. all this was bound to undermine allegiances to The Corporation.

At its inception, the Church conflated these two very different aspects of spiritual life, so that people would stop inquiring once they had arrived at Fearing-the-Lord and dutifully pay their tithes on time. ‘Spirit’ was allocated only to God and ‘soul’ became something you could only save in the fullness of time via the appointed means of culturally defined convention..

or die.

In the main we plebs have heartily embraced the sensible option and not just because we don’t like branding irons or having our nails pulled out. The prospect of keeping your nose clean for a future place in Paradise is an easier ride than finding your own way through thorny undergrowth which has a ‘de-integrating’ effect on the personality, a kind of stripping away or stripping apart that may be tougher than whatever the Inquisition has in its bag of tricks.

German born buddhist master, Anagarika Govinder describes his first encounter with Nothing-ness..

”I felt like a meteor drawn onto the orbit of a bigger celestial body _ until it dawned upon me that once I allowed myself to ‘fall’ without reserve, the impact would be my inevitable end. Suddenly a terror siezed me, the terror that this body and this mind would not be mine anymore, the terror of losing my identity for good: the indescribable, inexpressible fear of emptiness…. to fall into the nameless Void!” Lama Govinder

Govinder recalls that he ‘struggled tenaciously’ against this experience by getting up and frantically drawing a self portrait,..

”in order to assure myself of my own reality..” ibid

So we cast a blind eye to the churches embargo on our experience of spirit because of its de-integrating effect and go along with the mish mash of treating spirit and soul as though they were the same thing.

Unfortunately this conflation has had the effect of arresting our collective spiritual development because it discourages the spontaneous joy in spirit which is already redeemed, already One, something here and now, something not subject to God as-we-know-him.

What this means is that the experience of spirit or pneuma as Valentinus called it has to be had outside the auspices of church. With the God above god, Sophia.

which annoyed the church to the point of banishing him forever-and-ever-and- ever.


and killing his mates.

So the Hierosgamos, the Sacred Marriage, had to go underground. The symbolism that represents the relationship between Spirit and Psyche could not be explored without treading on ecclesiastical toes and so it was cast on the dung heap as mere..

” conjugal productions of their fancied aeons” Bishop Iranaeus.

Valentinus described three different types of human experience. The first, and most numerous, were ‘Hylic’, the kind of person that just lets themselves live, that feels the psyche is whatever they know of it, who live in their appetites and fears.

The second he called, Psychic, people who become aware of the Unconscious as an objective fact that has to be reckoned with, that can give meaning and purpose beyond the satisfaction of personal desires.

What nearly got him martyred was his assertion that there was yet another stage after this, the ‘Pneumatic’, variously called Emptiness, Sunyata, the Void, which, with the greatest irony, was then left to the East to elucidate after the church had finally wiped out everyone who could attest to what was in fact the essence of Christ’s message.

And so the Hierosgamos got downgraded to being wedded to the Architect, rather than the coniunctio of Spirit and Soul that it was meant to be, with the ego sitting a couple of rows back from the main show quietly trying to keep from being overwhelmed by events.

Kings, Chiefs and Shamans.

We had already been turned back at a police roadblock but finally managed to sneak into Pondoland in South Africa, hidden under the back seat of the only bus on the road. Pondoland, a tiny chiefdom tucked into the montains of Transkei, was off limits to white folk back in the 80’s. You had to keep your head down as you crossed the invisible cracks of Apartheid.

My friend and I knew it was an unwritten custom that we should announce our presence immediatly we arrived at our remote destination and ask permission to be there from the paramount chief. So we found his house, which was made of actual clay bricks and knocked on the door.

It turned out the chief wasn’t at home but his wives were very welcoming, saying we should stay until he arrived. We were shown immediatly to a room and bought refreshment.

Three days later he arrived, very pleased we were following the protocol of the land by waiting for him and asking for his blessing.

There was to be a meeting of all the chiefs the next day and we were invited, introduced, showing how our sleeping bags worked and what we had in our packs. It was all very enlivening.

The paramount chief then gave us horses to travel wherever we wished and his nephew as a guide for a week of trekking through the mountains of Pondo where we were expected and welcomed in every village.

And what I noticed about the people that I met was that they all had a serene, quiet confidence. And why should they not? They may have been poor as church mice but each person was cared for by the chief whom you could go and see when you needed to and discuss stuff.

How brilliant is that! We idealise our political system as an adjunct to the ‘evolution of consciousness’ myth, in so far as both stories have, as their central character, how wonderful we are. And yet we have a fraction of the voice that a Pondo has, despite his ‘lack’ of constitutional rights or codified freedoms.

I hear it argued a lot that the loss of such containing social structures and the ungrounded hurley burley of western life is ‘the price we pay’ for the individuation process.

There are apparently meagre examples of individuation in indigenous culture.

Its the same prejudice that says individuation only really began in our time.

I met a medicine man, clanking¬† with shells and beads. He threw a gourd of knuckle bones and told me of two women who would have to share me…. so quaint, until I had the perspective of twenty years hindsight to witness my two muses arm wrestling one another on a regular basis to see if I would be in my studio or at my desk that day.

The figure who embodies the individuation process in primitive culture is the shaman.. And anyone can be called to this role by the spirits. So, even though you may be an ordinary peasant that door may open and your individuation may begin at any time.

Lama Govinder tells the story of a taxi driver he caught a ride with who’d had a vision one day that he should go and shamanise at Lhasa, so he went and told the monks what had happened and he was duly instated, without a clue as to what was required of him. The spirits would know. And so everyone was quite calm about what would in fact be an extremely chaotic series of events. And then back to his cab driving till next time…

hey ho..

African culture is the same. The ancestors can call on you at any time. You may have to wander off on your own for a while. Aboriginals, too, have their ‘walkabout’, and the encounter with dreamtime.

As a society we don’t have that. And yet we feel that we are so much more spiritually sophisticated. Enough to want to take their stupid ancestors angrily away from them.

When Jung asked a headman in Kenya if he dreamed, the headman replied,¬† ‘we used to, now the district commissioner dreams for us.”

We gonna take your everyfing…

Its a shame C.J. didn’t take that into more consideration when he bewailed their lack of concentration at the palaver.

and then you gonna talk nice….

Kings are very different from chiefs and medicine men…

The archetype of the king is way more distant and power based than the archetype of the healer and, in my view, a less convincing candidate for a model of evolving consciousness. You can’t become the king. And the projection of the inner ‘nobleman’ sticks to him like glue because of his remoteness. so the most you’ll ever be is not-king…


he will have your dreams for you. Walk down that red carpet of bling on your behalf. Die for your sin.

And the camera’s can click..

and the limo can run like silk,

and your piety can be everso great,

but for as long as the dark brother is reviled…

you will never be called..

and the ancestors will not be fed.