nature of the Self: theory, image & archetype
Carl Jung appeared to believe that the subtle body was a good metaphor for the human psyche. He said, “I have often felt tempted to advise my patients to conceive of the psyche as a subtle body” (1938, p. 25).
The subtle body is a concept which represents the idea of a non-material body which coexists with the material body. Ideas concerning the subtle body have persisted thoughtout the ages in many different religions. According to David Tansley “the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks, the Indians of North America, the Polynesians Kahunas, the Incas, the early Christians, the Vedic seers of India and the medieval alchemists and the mystics of Europe” all had a concept of a non-material body.
The subtle body is often seen as a bridge between the divine world and the human world. David Gordon White calls it a link between the divine macrocosm and the human microcosm (p.15). Knowledge of the subtle body is often known though a hieroglyphic spiritual language, such as in expressed in dreams and imagination. It has been said that it is only through spiritual development that we begin to understand the hieroglyphic language of the subtle body. And it is the liminality of the subtle body which provides the opportunity for this interaction with a “hierarchy of demigods, angels, avatars, and discarnate teachers and guides” (Lockhart, p.1). From the Jungian point of view this interaction takes place primarily though the active imaginative and dreaming process.
The Subtle Energy Body: The Complete Guide – Maureen Lockhart
Subtle Body: Essence and Shadow – David V. Tansley
The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India – David Gordon White