Heaven above, Heaven below: what the soul foretells

“Everything psychic has a lower and a higher meaning, as in the profound saying of late classical mysticism: ‘Heaven above, Heaven below, stars above, stars below, all that is above also is below, know this and rejoice.’ Here we lay our finger on the secret symbolical significance of everything psychic.” (CW 5, para 77)

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.

Jung explains his point of view: the [Freudian] “sexual problem” is “only one half of the meaning, and the lower half at that. The other half is ideal creation as a substitute for real creation.” (CW 5, para 77) Here, Jung recognizes the spiritual instincts of the soul. Such instincts modify base instinctual urges into the spiritual through the creation of spiritual symbols and ‘ideals.’ Through spiritual symbols the soul expresses a capacity to dialectically integrate the tension of opposites within the Self.

Jung goes on to say that such symbol creation may hold a ‘presentiment of the future,’ guiding the individual in the process of psychical transformation. Jung says:

“With personalities who are obviously capable of intellectual effort, the prospect of spiritual fruitfulness is something worthy of their highest aspirations, and for many people it is actually a vital necessity. This other side of the fantasy also explains the excitement, for we are concerned here with a thought that contains a presentiment of the future-one of those thoughts which, to quote Maeterlinck, spring from the “inconscient superieur,” (the higher unconscious) from the “prospective potency” of a subliminal synthesis.” (CW 5, para 78)

The ‘higher unconscious’ or soul’s imagination appears to hold the instinctual and creative ability to create a subliminal synthesis of opposites. Such a synthesis may offer ‘visionary clarity’ into the ‘hidden meaning’ of one’s life. Jung says:

“I have had occasion to observe, in the course of my daily professional work [that… ] a dream, often of visionary clarity, occurs about the time of the onset of the illness or shortly before, which imprints itself indelibly on the mind and, when analyzed, reveals to the patient a hidden meaning that anticipates the subsequent events of his life.” (CW 5, para 78)

Here, Jung is beginning to apprehend the teleological nature of psychic life. The soul expresses teleology within dreams, asserting ‘hidden meanings’, pointing to ‘the subsequent events of his life.’  In a footnote Jung goes into further detail:

“Just as memories that have long since fallen below the threshold are still accessible to the unconscious, so also are certain very fine subliminal combinations that point forward, and these are of the greatest significance for future events in so far as the latter are conditioned by our psychology. But no more than the science of history bothers itself with future combinations of events, which are rather the object of political science, can the forward-pointing psychological combinations be the object of analysis; they would be much more the object of a refined psychological syntheticism that knew how to follow the natural currents of libido. This we cannot do, or only badly; but it happens easily enough in the unconscious, and it seems as if from time to time, under certain conditions, important fragments of-this-work come to light, at least in dreams, thus accounting for the prophetic significance of dreams long claimed by superstition. Dreams are very often anticipations of future alterations of consciousness. (fn 18)

The soul creates symbols which are ‘forward-pointing psychological combinations’.’ Such symbols ‘follow the natural currents of libido.’  Dream symbols, guided by libido, may anticipate “future alterations of consciousness.”


  1. Symbols of Transformation (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.5): C. G. Jung, Gerhard Adler, R. F.C. Hull: Books.

7 thoughts on “Heaven above, Heaven below: what the soul foretells

  1. Jenna…
    You’ve stirred the creative waters here because few things express teleology & Soul movement as does…”As Above…so Below”.Individuation is about psychic wholeness and the more whole the psyche becomes the more ”resonant” it is with a Greater Whole(…inner or outer).In short,eventually the resonance of ego & Soul enable an even grander spiritual resonance with Cosmos itself.Microcosm mirrors Macrocosm.The synthesis of opposites does offer an incredible ”visionary clarity” or ”presentiment of the future” personally.
    Recently,you said you wondered what it must be like to be so disconnected from the soulful & the intuitive.It’s an extreme & agonizing inner dying that seems so slow as to feel unending.I mentioned ego collapse as a condition where all past vital points of reference are destroyed.Jung actually referred to the ego as the ”point of reference’ of the psyche and saw it as carrying a monumental role in regulating and maintaining psychic balance.And,whether or not archetypal images are conscious or unconscious determines whether they are experienced positively or negatively.Truly,…”the soul’s instinct is to create symbols of transformation,given spontaneous form in dreams and imagination.” Within ego collapse and the dark night however,there’s absolutely no hint/sense of the Soul’s instinct.Why?Simply,the Self needs the ego for it’s realization while the ego can’t exist without the support of the Self.That indeed is a dark & difficult condition or psychic state.The power of the archetype is what is so fascinating here.While archetypes can & do function to”organize psychic images and ideas”,the actual archetype can never reach ego consciousness.So,when ego collapses very little appears to be happening.
    Nevertheless,an incredible re-organization of ego is occurring deep within.That,at first,is very difficult for someone to grasp that has been psychologically & spiritually ”resonant” for many years.So,within ego collapse it’s absolutely crucial to continue reminding oneself that ego will resurrect in a more integrated form and that this form will be able to mirror the Self.It’s also crucial to remember that archetypes influence and organize as an ”unconscious” process and this is a process that can’t be detected until afterward.The Self,of course,is the inner archetype supreme and it’s emergence in a form that the reorganized ego can resonate to will occur only according the the Soul & Self’s teleology and timing.( …”But the faith and the hope and the love,are all in the waiting.” T.S.Eliot)
    So what does any of this have to offer someone that isn’t experiencing something as drastic but potentially transformative as an ego collapse? Absolutely everything!Whoever is not within such a state still has the capacity as well as the free will to self-explore and to assist in the grand work of individuation/wholeness.They can seed their dreams and actively follow them;..they can practice active imagination;..they can notice important soul stories and follow their own.All of this vitally assists & allies with the Soul’s instincts and teleology.Feeding the psyche the right stories on a regular basis assists powerfully in creating inner gestations.It’s true that the archetypes serve to organize images and psychic content.it’s also very true that we can assist that process in potent conscious ways.We can also learn to track the movements of Soul and the unconscious.Given that,at this moment I’d give about anything to perceive & be in the world in the many ways others can.On the other hand,if and when my own inner reorganization toward the Self manifests,I’m sure that would be the last thing on my mind.”Heaven above…Heaven below” Thanks for the reminder Jenna!

    1. Thank you Two Hawks for sharing your experience and wisdom. The idea of the psyche becoming the more ‘resonant’ with a Greater Whole is beautiful. Your words remind me of the alchemical realization of divine immanence, of which Jung speaks.

  2. Wonderful article by Jenna and comment by Rob. Thanks to you both.

    Now four and a half years into an often unspeakably painful spiritual transformation, these materials confirm a good bit of my personal experience and also give me much-needed hope to persevere and believe that there is an “outcome” that will be satisfying beyond words, the “peace that passeth understanding,” as Jesus said. It’s so hard to hold onto that faith at times, so when I come across something that reinforces it, it’s a good day.:-)

    1. Welcome Elizabeth,

      Thank you for sharing the beautiful Christian expression: the peace of God, which passeth all understanding. I will hold that one in my heart.

    2. Elizabeth…
      As I’m sure you know,true faith is an active process rather than a set of dogmatic beliefs.And yes,when going through something as long and difficult as you are it can sputter & waver at times.At those times you are called only to do one thing: ..to endure or persevere.Easily said I know but in the end living-faith is the full courage to face & embrace the unknown.You’ve faced so much already I know but also remember you could go around the life-changing bend at any time.And always,that time is when we feel we can’t bear more….so again,holding-on is crucial.
      I’d like to share a few quotes that have helped me inside the ongoing transformation.One is quite well known and the other less so but both capture the spirit that the call to endure can/will lead to that immeasurable peace.

      *…”I said to my Soul,be still,and wait without hope
      for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.
      And wait without love,for love would be love,
      of the wrong thing.
      Yet there is faith
      but the faith and the hope and the love,are all in the waiting.
      And the darkness shall be the light
      and the stillness the dancing.” (T.S.Eliot)

      *…”Willing to die,
      you give up
      your will.Keep still
      until,moved by what moves all else
      you move.” (Wendell Berry)

      Eliot’s words are incredibly wise and I hope you’ll also discover & know that…in the end,”the faith and the hope and the love are in the waiting.” Mr Berry’s poem refers to the mysterious ”resonance” I mentioned in my comment to Jenna’s post.From a Jungian perspective we could call this waiting until moved by the ”Self”.However we describe it,clearly,it is what takes one to ”the peace which passeth all understanding.” Meanwhile,Elizabeth,trust that you’ll have more confirmations ahead and that your faith will be restored(…even if totally ”remodeled”).

      1. Thanks again, Rob, for such a personal and encouraging reply. I’ve come across other T.S. Eliot quotes that really struck me but had never heard this one before. I think I can glimpse why you find it so meaningful.

        The CONSCIOUS embrace of the duty of perseverance beyond all conceived capacity has been key to what improvement I’ve been able to make since the nadir of this experience started in the early part of this year. I actually formalized the need to persevere in a document I wrote as part of a ceremony (a marriage, of sorts) early this month. So your call to endure and persevere is highly resonant if not classically synchronistic.

        And thanks also to Jenna for the warm welcome.:-)

        1. Thank you for the reply Elizabeth! I’ve also always loved the writing of T.S.Eliot.Someday,I need to learn more about the man & his life.He just couldn’t have written so many gems like this without also traveling there.
          I love that you’ve documented & ritualized the ”conscious embrace of the duty of perseverance.” Elizabeth,I’m also sure you’ve persevered in so many other heart-felt and unseen ways.We’ve all heard about the ”other” set of footprints in the sand and that that dawns approach aligns with our darkest moments.As I’ve gone deeper yet sometimes any semblance of normality or capacity to function according to topside world standards becomes a joke.And yet,I also find that at those difficult times certain things or persons gain incredible meaning and help me persevere further.Just when you feel you’re disappearing in the black hole arrives an unexpected call or small act of kindness and recognition.Just as you feel there’s nothing left to reach for or do you’re given the opportunity to touch another’s heart that’s in need or to be touched.The deeper we go the greater the paradox and in that place small acts and gestures are so life-affirming and life-sustaining.
          Yesterday I learned I won’t be seeing my remaining distant family this Christmas.Everything and everyone else has passed along or away as I go deeper so that wasn’t exactly a grand surprise.And yet,when life pares down we tend to hold onto & appreciate what remains so much more.And when that goes the cat and even the stinkbugs in the cellar that came to winter-over have more meaning.After all,out of the womb of emptiness so much can emerge if we remain open to the possibilities.So,yesterday your message came and the smile from that balanced the frown from anticipating Christmas alone.Elizabeth,although we’ll likely never meet…please know that you’re not alone.It’s been said that those who endure suffering with heart & Soul are brother and sister.I know that’s true and I’m so proud of you for hanging-in!Thanks for being here!

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