Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and his theories of sexual energy form the foundation of modern psychology. It is not wrong to also attribute to him the indirect rudiments of Carl Jung (1875-1961), and his theory of archetypes. Together, their theories illuminate the birth of the Virgin Mary, and its intense popularity. Add a pinch of the miraculous, and we have a nearly irresistible brew of temptation, all perfectly natural, all perfectly suited for human gratification.
When I taught a literature course for Humanities at the University of Central Oklahoma, I focused on the subject of love. Love, in the literary sense, takes two separate, independent entities. The story is always about how and to what extent they come together. Mystical union is an ever-present quest, in one way or another, in the human experience. Freud said the libido was consumptive. It was the aggressor, seeking, not really to unify the second entity, but to consume it. To become one with it. For example, Alexander Scriabin (1972-1915), the Russian composer, wrote a piano sonata (No. 4 in F# Major) depicting a simple mystical union. A man contemplates a distant star, more and more until he finally swallows it, and beams brightly as the star itself in him. Freud sees even cannibalism as a form of union. In the earliest times, primitives believed that by eating another person, his powers were obtained and continued. But these are the more direct (gross) forms of libido. Human sexuality (male/female) itself was then actually a kind of sublimation. A token expression.
Alexander Scriabin, composer (1872-1915)
Great love stories often involve unconsummated love, distant love, impossible love. This kind are easily made into religious stories, involving intimate religious sentiments. Myth and story, according to Freud, usually outline some path of sexual energy, all perfectly disguised, of course.
Carl Jung (pronounced “yoong”), who did have, temporarily, an intellectual, professional relationship with Freud in the early 1900′s, had already expanded on the theory of the Unconscious. Where as Freud had counted it the secret drive of libido, or sexual energy, Jung had posited that the Unconscious was part of a larger, “collective” human memory. It wasn’t in fact an individual idiosyncrasy, but a valid piece of the entire human experience, from time immemorial. The Collective Unconscious indicated some long forgotten memory, striving to reveal itself in coded images and symbols. These images and symbols Jung called “archetypes.”
Jung identifies many of them in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, trans. R. F. C. Hull (Princeton/Bollingen, 1959). Everything from circles, serpents, crosses, and virgins recur ubiquitously in ancient cultures the world over, otherwise completely unrelated, and on different continents. Taking a kind of linguist’s approach to the evolution of human language, Jung concluded that all of these archetypes represented some vast, singular experience of humanity in some infantile unity. This memory, this Collective experience, was somehow imprinted deep in the Unconscious of every individual person’s mind. (In a way, it is like Jewish teaching in the Kabbalah. All was once one light, then became diffused into myriad stars.
Little Gelfin Jen, and the Master meditator–a mystic union seeker.
The children’s movie, The Dark Crystal (1982) is based on such an original unity.
But now we’re into something more professionally defined: the occult.
Freud and Jung exchanged thoughts about that subject, with surprising candor. Jung recalled a conversation in Vienna, in 1910:
I can still recall vividly how Freud said to me, “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. That is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark.” He said that to me with great emotion, in the tone of a father saying,” And promise me this one thing, my dear son, that you will go to church every Sunday.” In some astonishment I asked him, “A bulwark against what?” To which he replied, “Against the black tide of mud”–and here he hesitated a moment, then added–”of occultism.”
C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1989), p. 150.
Jung was taken aback. To him, occultism represented everything that philosophy and religion had learned about the psyche. What was aberrant about the occult?
What is amiss about the virgin goddesses of the ancient world, and their adoption by the Roman form of Christianity?
We touched on this in our previous blog, Catholic Celibacy and the Lure of Sublimation. The idolizing of an archetype, that is, the willful investiture of personhood into an imaginary being, is a kind of psychic set-up. When connected to the interminable complexities of reality, and the wash of endlessly evolving circumstances, the projection of human personality to the idol can be quite convincing. In a way, it is a sublimated recreation of the self. One perfects personality in the imagination, in the person of the idol. The idol is human, minus the weakness. Add a touch of the supernatural, and you have a most convincing act.
But what of the supernatural? Is there in fact supernatural to be experienced? If God and Satan are not the same entity, not the same energy, not the same reality, then we’re greatly imperiled.
If He who said “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3), and “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness,” (Exodus 20:4), and also said “The dead know not anything…their love and their hatred, and their envy, is now forgotten,” (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6), and finally condemned all pretended communication with departed spirits of human beings (Isaiah 8:19,20), were to evaluate the Virgin Mary phenomenon, what could we expect His verdict to be? If Mary is dead, then who’s doing the magic? Who’s working the miracles?
I believe this is a matter of grave concern. Should we not have concrete thoughts settled on the subject? The Revelation of Christ given to John depicts a world ending in a state of religious deception, combined with economic-based tyranny. A global power rises that wields supernatural power–”that deceiveth them that swell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do.” “He doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” Revelation 13: 14, 13.
I do believe this is related to the state of the dead, or, to our understanding of the conditions of death. It is a fantastic seen that John attempts to describe. The personification of images and spirits pertaining thereunto must be brought under investigation.
Neither Freud nor Jung pretend to contemplate the Hebrew God and the adversary the Devil (Satan) as literal persons. The occult is about energy, not personality. Freud’s sexual theory is as irrelevant as Jung’s Collective Unconscious, but it is more than curious that Freud would warn against the occult. And I must say, only the Hebrew adversary, Satan, has real personality. He is a man of a thousand faces, infinite disguises, unlimited lies. If every religion has a beautiful virgin at it’s core, I’d say Freud’s warning is well taken. The management of sexuality ought to be a lot easier than understanding the Collective Unconscious, or the occult of Satan.