EXPLORING THE UNCONSCIOUS

Through the Treasures of Imaginal Alchemy.

Exploring Consciousness is a noble and fitting concept. Considering, that is, a concept according to Buddhist principles, is a stable structure at the end of a process. Seeing we all agree on process instead of structure, it remains to be seen if we can move beyond the concept, into the process.

Therefore it is of some interest, that the 'structure' of exploring consciousness, as an action pattern, makes no mention of the equally vital process of exploring the unconscious.

C.G. Jung supplies us with this useful analogy:

"…we have then to describe and explain a building the upper story of which was erected in the nineteenth century, the ground floor dates from the sixteenth century, and a careful examination of the masonry discloses the fact that it was reconstructed from a dwelling-tower of the eleventh century. In the cellar we discover Roman foundation walls, and under the cellar a filled-in cave, in the floor of which stone tools are found, and remnants of glacial fauna in the layers below. That would be a sort of picture of our own mental structures. We live in the upper storey, and are only dimly aware that our lower storey is somewhat old-fashioned. As to what lies beneath the superficial crust of the earth we remain quite unconscious…"

C.G. Jung, in an essay entitled 'Mind and the Earth' .

This analogy, as James Henderson points out, is vertical. It brings to mind the Hermetic paradigm of 'As Above, So Below'. The 'Below' of this paradigm, the "…superficial crust of the earth.." the"…unconscious.." is in Classical Symbolism and Mythology, the Realm of Pluto. As the Realm of the Death, Hades, it is also the ancestral domain, a zone beautifully expressed in Traditional African Religion as the Home of the Ancestors.

The Hermetic equation Pluto=Unconsciousness, has been well documented, and is represented in some systems as a source of great wealth or treasure, more often than not, guarded by a Dragon, or some such similar Dweller on the Threshold. Therefore, Exploring Unconsciousness, is also a way of saying that we are delving deeply into our ancestral heritage. This act of delving, is also expressed as the technique of mining, for the dwarfs, so dear to the fairy tales of children, are miners and workers with fire, metal and precious stones. And mining of course, takes us straight to the great family of Alchemical Symbols, necessary tools in any exploration of the unconscious.

"The primordial image or archetype is a figure, whether it be a daemon, man or process, that repeats itself in the course of history whenever creative fantasy is freely manifested. Essentially, therefore, it is a mythological figure. If we subject these images to a closer investigation, we discover them to be the formulated resultants of countless typical experiences of our ancestors."

C.G. Jung.

{Quoted in James L. Henderson, The Jungian Interpretation of History and Its Educational Implications, in: Papadopoulos, Renos K and Saayman, G., Jung in Modern Perspective, p. 249.]

By analogy, there is an interesting natural phenomena that describes the above, symbolically, and that is coral. Coral, literally lives on top of the shells of its dead ancestors, its past 'selves.'

These few words, in desperate need of amplification, can act as an invitation to attend a small workshop during …through to ….

Samten de Wet.