on Self-realization

Self-realization in mediation, symbol & sacred text: Analytic psychology meets Eastern philosophy

Fires of knowledge: Ashes of wisdom

Ash is a product of fire. When fire burns, things perish. Ash remains. As a symbol of purification, ash is the essence that remains when all else burns away. Carl … Continue reading

Featured · 6 Comments

Meditation on Ash: image of mourning

A couple of days ago I found out that the area which surrounds the hot springs burned down. The images were all across twitter: flames rushing down the mountain, smoke clouds reaching up to the heavens, vast vistas of smoke and flames congregating round the ever-flowing springs. The next morning it became clear, everything was burned, all was ash, but the springs remained, pouring forth from the depths. No fire can touch such depths, no ash from water. As I pondered the images I thought of a meditation from the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra: Meditate with an unwavering and one-pointed mind on the entire universe being burnt.

Featured · 9 Comments

Encountering the Demon of Ignorance

In becoming aware of the supreme Self, we are likely to behold the demons and shadows of the individual self. Carl Jung believed that an encounter with the demon or … Continue reading


Paradox of the Tree of Death & Life

Among the various spiritual and religious traditions, the tree appears as an image of the Self. In the Katha Upanishad the roots of the tree represent “the supreme Brahman,” and … Continue reading

Featured · 4 Comments

Mother World: splitting, integration & evolution in the mother archetype

Recently, I have been writing on the aims and instincts of the human soul. Carl Jung speaks of the human soul’s “longing to attain rebirth through a return to the … Continue reading

Featured · 6 Comments

Goddess as Libido Symbol

  Carl Jung says that “the goddesses… are libido-symbols.” He adds: “The libido expresses itself in images of sun, light, fire, sex, fertility, and growth” (para 324). The image above … Continue reading


Book Review: Art from Dreams by Susan Levin

The unconscious, like an artist, takes in discards and fragments of experience. The unconscious digests and cooks these fragments and produces dreams from them. In what may be our deepest soul’s instinct, we take in the raw ingredients of experience and we begin to cook them, to symbolize them, dream them, transform them.

July 27, 2014 · 3 Comments

Feeding from a Sacred Tree

In the image above we see a drawing of an Egyptian king feeding from a sacred breast of a holy tree,  the ‘Lady of the Sycamore.’ The image is about 3,500 years … Continue reading

June 8, 2014 · 6 Comments

Divine Union: creative force & origin

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung explores the dynamic relation between the masculine and feminine as an archetypal image of the sacred cohabitation. One such image is the Shiva Lingam … Continue reading

June 7, 2014 · 7 Comments

Shiva Linga

What follows is a wonderful story from the Linga Purana which illustrates the nature Shiva Linga. The sages said, “We know that a linga is Shiva’s image. But why is … Continue reading

June 6, 2014

Rebirth from the Archetypal Mother: Jerusalem as sacred image

In Symbols of Transformation (CW5), Carl Jung speaks of the aims and instincts of the human soul. One of the most fundamental instincts of the human soul is a “longing … Continue reading

May 31, 2014

The Hero as Soul Image: aims and instincts

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung says that the hero myth “symbolizes the ideas, forms, and forces which grip and mold the soul.” (para. 259) The hero is an image … Continue reading

May 22, 2014 · 19 Comments

Priapus: personification of the creative force

Priapus is the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. Ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, who wrote between 60 and 30 BC, speaks of Priapus: “Now the ancients record in their myths that Priapos … Continue reading

March 4, 2014

Tom Thumb: personification of the creative force

According to Carl Jung, Tom Thumb is a personification of the creative force. Jung says: “We know that Tom Thumbs, dactyls, and Cabiri… are personifications of creative forces… Thus the … Continue reading

February 25, 2014

Agni: archetypal image of the creative force

In the above image we see the Hindu deity Agni and his consort Svaha.  Agni appears in his dual nature, with two heads he faces both God and man. In … Continue reading

February 17, 2014 · 5 Comments

Phanes: archetypal image of the creative force

Phanes is an ancient image of the creative force. In the chapter titled ‘The Concept of Libido’ in Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung speaks of Phanes, illustrating the archetypal nature of … Continue reading

February 11, 2014 · 2 Comments

The Realm of the Mothers

In the Introduction to the Second Section of Symbols of Transformation (SoT), Carl Jung speaks of and quotes a section of Goethe’s Faust. In the story, Faust descends to the … Continue reading

February 9, 2014 · 4 Comments

Purusha: Cosmic Person

The Katha Upanishad (1.11-13) speaks of Purusha (Cosmic Person): “That the Adorable One [Bhagavat] exists in the faces, the heads, the necks of all, he dwells in the cave (of … Continue reading

February 5, 2014 · 29 Comments

The mystics find ‘in their heart’ the image of the sun

In the second section of Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung is taking us into the life of the mystic: a path of soul and of divine heart. Jung speaks of … Continue reading

February 2, 2014 · 4 Comments

Creative Power of the Soul

In the second section of Symbols of Transformation, Jung takes us “into a realm of mythological ideas” (para. 176). Here Jung palpates the aims and desires of the living soul. Jung … Continue reading

January 31, 2014 · 7 Comments

Path of Soul: the telos of the soul

A subtle insight in Carl Jung’s work appears to be that the soul is instinctual: guided by a sort of spiritual instinct for truth, this is our telos. The word … Continue reading

January 30, 2014 · 14 Comments

The Gift of Love

Life energy moves through all living things. A seed sprouts, growing and becoming a tree, blossoming and bearing fruit. As long as the tree is healthy and without disease its … Continue reading

January 3, 2014 · 6 Comments

Divine Child: symbol of the soul’s fulfillment

We are in deep winter: days short, nights long. Father sun seems so far away, mother earth lonely. All the creatures mourn in winter. They burrow in their little holes … Continue reading

December 25, 2013 · 14 Comments

Via Dolorosa: the soul’s spiritual riddle

Yesterday, I spoke of the soul’s capacity to create symbols of transformation. Today, on the Winter Solstice, I will write of Via Dolorosa, “the way of suffering.” Suffering is an … Continue reading

December 21, 2013 · 11 Comments

Heaven above, Heaven below: what the soul foretells

In the above passage Jung is referencing a mystical text titled the Oedipus Aegyptiacus. Jung borrows from this text to express the tension of opposites within psyche life. The psyche has an urge, aim, a desire: part an expression of base instinct and part spiritual instinct. Fantasy holds the potential to express both of these instinctual urges.

December 20, 2013 · 7 Comments

Zombie Apocalypse: a symbol of collective transformation

Given a plethora of television shows and films about zombies, what is a Jungian to see but a collective fantasy. Carl Jung showed that what cannot be worked through at … Continue reading

December 15, 2013 · 7 Comments

On the Soul

At origin, at basis, there is no thought, no language. Something is, but we cannot call it being or non-being, we cannot know it as full or empty. All we can fathom is that it is the ground of life: essential to life, yet unsayable, unspeakable. It, unfathomable, gives birth to soul. Ground emerges into form, becoming the divine body of life. The divine body is the birth place of soul, the container or vessel for soul. Divinity and soul are first in unity; they are “indistinct” (Para. 23), like a baby in womb.

December 8, 2013 · 25 Comments

Notes on Jung: Two Kinds of Thinking

In the last post, on Inwardness, we contemplated our fear of inner life. Writing that essay lead me to wonder if we, as a culture, are pathologizing the soul? This … Continue reading

December 2, 2013 · 27 Comments

Inwardness: the inner path in the work of Carl Jung

It has been 101 years since Carl Jung wrote Symbols of Transformation. This work is now in the US Public Domain, and available on-line for all to read freely. It … Continue reading

November 23, 2013 · 57 Comments

Symbols of Transformation

Carl Jung’s volume 5 titled Symbols of Transformation is one of Jung’s more difficult texts to read and understand. Many years after writing the text, Jung looked back and said: … Continue reading

November 16, 2013 · 40 Comments

Religion and the Unsayable

“This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.” -Søren Kierkegaard Through conscious awareness human beings have created a field of … Continue reading

November 4, 2013 · 16 Comments

Dialectical Struggle & the Elixir of Immortality

To live is to struggle. Whether we are rich or poor, beautiful or plain, famous or more humble, we will struggle. For struggle arises from within, a struggle of the … Continue reading

November 2, 2013 · 11 Comments

Archetypal Dialectics

I have heard many people complain about the division between spirit and matter. Often they blame Descartes. For example in Marigold’s book titled A Guiding Hand, she says: “If we hadn’t given … Continue reading

October 16, 2013 · 20 Comments

Theo-Sophia: divine wisdom in Jung & Böhme’s work

Last week I pondered Böhme’s visions. This week I am reminded of this image from the Frontispiece of The Way to the Sabbath of Rest (1709) by Thomas Bromley. If you … Continue reading

October 10, 2013 · 5 Comments

Jakob Böhme & the three principles of the divine

Over the past couple of days I have been discussing the split within God in Jakob Böhme’s work (see here and here. In Fearful Symmetry,  (1947) Northrop Frye discusses Böhme’s work in relationship to … Continue reading

October 4, 2013 · 2 Comments

Jakob Böhme & the split within God

Yesterday I wrote a post in which I discussed Carl Jung’s comments on Böhme. Today I want to include a second image to illustrate the notion further. In this image … Continue reading

October 3, 2013 · 1 Comment

Jakob Böhme & the dynamic unity of light and dark

Jakob Böhme (1575 – 1624) was a German mystic.  He wrote several mystical treatises which influenced G.W.F. Hegel, Carl Jung, and other German thinkers. Carl Jung speaks of Böhme’s work. He says: “A historical example of the … Continue reading

October 2, 2013 · 3 Comments

Christ’s Androgyny

As I have illustrated in some of my previous posts, the hermaphrodite image appears from time to time throughout history, taking various forms. The symbol shows up in art, myths, … Continue reading

September 20, 2013 · 2 Comments

Rising Dawn: the soul in the Aurora Consurgens

A few days ago, I spoke of the hermaphrodite as the child of Hermes and Aphrodite in Ovid’s writings. Ovid wrote at the Augustan height of Roman literature. About fifteen … Continue reading

September 14, 2013 · 4 Comments

The Hermaphrodite in Ovid

In many spiritual traditions we find images of gods and goddess in union. Jung calls these unity symbols the syzygy. They are images of wholeness appearing in art, religious arcana, … Continue reading

September 9, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Quaternity in 14th Century French Art

This image is from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier by Jean Fouquet.  It is one image from Fouquet’s paintings of the book of hours. It was commissioned by king Charles VII … Continue reading

September 1, 2013 · 2 Comments

the Divine Mother as Rose

Here we see a 14th Century paining of the Madonna of the Rose. The rose is often associated with the Mother archetype. Carl Jung points out that the mother archetype … Continue reading

August 31, 2013

The Mother Mary and the Moon

This 15th Century painting of the assumption of Mary into heaven is quite lovely. Notice that Mary rises from her tomb on a crescent moon. The moon image is also … Continue reading

August 30, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Soul’s Imagination

In Psychology and Alchemy, Carl Jung speaks of “the relationship between God and soul.” (Para. 11) Jung says: [The soul] “has the dignity of an entity endowed with consciousness of … Continue reading

August 29, 2013 · 5 Comments

The Self: immanent divine

“God is a psychic fact of immediate experience.“ Carl Jung speaks of the immanent aspects of God when he says “God is a psychic fact”. In Carl Jung’s view, God … Continue reading

August 25, 2013 · 8 Comments


We are in an era of radical materialism in which only the material aspects of life are acknowledged.  Carl Jung says: “Under the influence of scientific materialism, everything that could … Continue reading

August 24, 2013 · 4 Comments

Dreams may act in a compensatory manner to waking thought

Awareness of dream consciousness is of central importance to the process of integration and Self-realization. Carl Jung offer great insight into the nature of dreams, in particular their role in … Continue reading

August 22, 2013 · 2 Comments

Notes on Jung: philosophical views on spirit

Carl Jung notes that there are several philosophical perspectives on the spirit. One is of spirit in opposition to matter. The archetypal representations of immaterial spirit is ‘God’. Jung says: … Continue reading

June 30, 2013 · 2 Comments

Notes on Jung: personifications of spirit

Carl Jung speaks of the archetypal personifications of spirit. He says: “As linguistic usage shows, spirit in the sense of an attitude has unmistakable leanings towards personification.” Here are some … Continue reading

June 29, 2013

Notes on Jung: the wide range of representations of ‘spirit’

The concept of ‘spirit’ has deep roots in the human psyche. Carl Jung’s investigation into the nature of spirit is a complex investigation which takes us through many layers of … Continue reading

June 28, 2013 · 6 Comments

If you notice a copyright infringement on this blog please contact Jenna Lilla via the form below. The authors aims is to use images that are public domain or that are posted with permission. If I made a mistake I will take down the image promptly if notified.

This blog address Self-realization. This is NOT a mental health website. We do NOT offer crisis counseling. Nothing on this website should be construed as advice. The writing is intended for Mature Audiences only. Please read the disclaimer.
If you need mental health counseling, please contact a professional through one of the nationally recognized mental health organization.
If you believe you need immediate assistance, please call your local emergency number or the mental health crisis hot-line listed in your local phone book's government pages.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 919 other followers