“Anima means soul and should designate something very wonderful and immortal... ” (Carl Jung, 9i, para. 55)
The word anima is derived from Latin: “life, breath, soul.” It is related to the word animism, to animate. Carl Jung understood that the soul itself is an archetype.
In archetypal terms the soul holds an “intermediate position” within psychic life (CW5, para. 425). James Hillman understood this when he said that the soul is the “mediatrix to the eternally unknowable” (p.133).
In reading Carl Jung’s writings, my imagination takes me into the narrative fields of the soul. Although the world of soul is ‘eternally unknowable,’ archetypal forms guide the soul into the unknown depths of being. There the living soul is embedded in an inner world of living symbols and archetypes. The archetypes proffer unconscious principles which guide the soul in development throughout the lifetime. This is the world of spirit, of the spiritual.
Jung says that “symbols act as transformers, their function being to convert libido from a “lower” into a “higher” form. He adds, “It is able to do this because of the numen, the specific energy stored up in the archetype.”
The soul lives in relation to inner numinous forms which, if respected, ‘act as transformers.’ Dreams and active imagination offer the potential for spiritual transformation. Symbols, with their numen, with their energy, are guides in our spiritual transformation. Can we notice this? Can be become aware of the ways we are unconsciously relating to, being guided by the symbolic world?
Jung is an interpreter of the soul: decoding the complex hieroglyphic language of the soul. Although he is a psychologist, he speaks the language of a mystic. For the mystic the symbolic world is the true world, the sacred world. Henry Corbin says:
It is “a world as ontologically real as the world of the senses and the world of the intellect, a world that requires a faculty of perception belonging to it, a faculty that is a cognitive function, a noetic value, as fully real as the faculties of sensory perception or intellectual intuition. This faculty is the imaginative power, the one we must avoid confusing with the imagination that modern man identifies with “fantasy” and that, according to him, produces only the ‘imaginary.”
The symbolic world of the soul may not be the world of our senses, but for some it is ‘a world as ontologically real as the world of the senses.’ It holds its own perception, speaks in its own language. It is the world of intuition, of imagination. It is the home of the soul, and is the space of the spirit.
- The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)
Henry Corbin, Mundus Imaginalis: or, The imaginary and the imaginal
Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation