Myth's use of psyche and psyche's use of myth
"The Dead Chrysalis: an excursion beyond the psyche as a course in self-knowledge" is what you read on the site's link bringing to this writing. This is far fetched and the writer might well be "beyond his psyche" and in need of asylum.
Yes, it will be admitted that this is no easy task, trying to blot down something so pretentious - the psyche is something still a long way off from being sufficiently unraveled and some maundering someone pretends to go all the way around behind it and say something about that which lies in the mysterious kingdom of no-where, no-time, no-dimension.
For the moment we may say that he mind - so far as we know it - is "that which it is" and this might be an apt, albeit temporary definition as the concept of mind has been created to explain those things which, at our best through conscious volition and at our worst through its own will, happen triggered by electrical impulses within our cerebral cortex, a triggering which is greatly conditioned by both the environment and the life experience of the cortex's owner, and in part by that mysterious thing which makes us exclaim "well, I don't know why I did it" or "how could I think anything like that" or, significantly "oh, I was out of my mind" or something of the sort for the origin of quite many things which are elaborated and brought to the surface by our brain is very mysterious indeed and utterly unreachable.
When the term brain is employed in this writing it should be seen not like the convoluted biological mass of organic material resembling a cabbage within our skull, but as the interpreter of a mysterious force urging it shoot us into action and yes, you guessed it, the mysterious force is "that which it is". If you close your eyes and quietly start to analyze what goes on within your skull you will easily perceive, or realize, two things: the feeling of something not apart from your biological structure, a tangible material mass of something which will give you the sensation that you have a brain. And as well you will perceive something not really at rest in the same space yet separated from the brain and that, since the brain leaves no space but for itself within the skull the something else that you perceive must be immaterial or at least very subtle, like the electric field generated within the brain. An electric field into which each single electron has the task of transferring its own bit of information so that a whole train of data is put together, data which is in turn fed to the brain - or collected from the brain - and elaborated so that it may issue its commanding routines to keep our machinery going and our good selves take care of our life as well as we can muster it.
This turning of your eyes inside - or looking within your skull with your inner sight - incidentally is a little nice exercise which will give you that feeling that you are something and not pure illusion, or the Hindu's maya - be this world illusory or not. We are not concerned here with this unfathomable metaphysical concept nor with the Cartesian "cogito, ergo sum", we are concerned with our reality within this environment of ours and if we look within ourselves there is no way that we can say "I am not", we cannot perceive our not-being so long as we are in a living physical frame. On the contrary, sticking for a while to the aforementioned exercise the perception will most likely shift from the sensation of the cabbage within and the un-definable field within the cabbage to some sort of perceptible wavy display akin to an optical perception - nothing new indeed - but for the fact that you originated it by the conscious intrusion in your bony box.
And here, since I wrote "so long as we are in a living physical frame" we find ourselves with the great questions of our life: "Who am I?", "What am I?", "Why am I here"? and, most important, when we think of this "I", this "me", we do not see a skeleton nicely dressed for a special occasion but we see something vague, undefined and incomprehensible - yes, something well apart from our physical being and if we think what sort of thing that is we have no clear answer and you may try it right now: be true to yourself and answer the question: "who am I?"
Let us now say something about the topic of this chapter, "Myth's use of psyche and psyche's use of myth".
We have seen that at the root of all social systems, all over the world, there is an extensive mythology, which, in whichever garb it is dressed, runs along a more or less common theme: a Creator God, a Paradise where we sit at His right hand and converse with Him and His Angels; where everything which may satisfy our lives and needs comes by itself readily available; a sort of sin of ours - the fall - which sends us to this world of toil and suffering; a universal deluge (which might be an historical fact and, as well, a story with an esoteric meaning); the menace of hell, its eternal scorching fire, demons, monsters and unending torture; and the obvious necessity to redeem ourselves - with great efforts indeed - from this inherited and un-forgiven sin to avoid hell and its comforts. And hence these mythical events are aptly recognized as a useful force to avoid disintegration of tribal units and properly adapted to suit the tribal needs within a given environment and finally turned into a doctrine which by the agency of more clever people is pushed and sunk deep into the tribe's mind  so that it becomes a cornerstone of its psychical framework. And, following, a binding set of laws is established within which the tribe as a whole and every single individual within it must live its earthly existence without transgression if he is to avoid horrible punishments both in this world and in the next, unless he does not wish to forfeit his chances to go back to the primordial paradise back in the grace of the Lord and in eternal happiness under the Tree of Life amidst the rivers of paradise.
With the invention of agriculture a urgent necessity is felt for more protection from earthly disasters and calamities so the minor gods - specialized gods - are born and the Great Lord falls in the second place leaving room for the gods of rain, the gods of harvest, the gods of fertility and so on; the Great Lord is remembered only within the impending menace or the circumstances of some great calamity.
This mythology, which by now has sunk deeply in the tribe's psyche is adumbrated by the passing of time but for a small elite of savants, usually the priestly class, shamans and medicine men, which keeps it alive within its restricted circle, adding and taking from the very same what better suits their own needs as well as the tribal needs so that the genuine myths in part are lost, in part modified but somehow - spoiled or encrusted - they still reach our epoch, hidden and not dormant within the great religious systems of the world.
It is also picked up, not without great toil, by thinkers which try to decipher it and, as time inexorably pushes itself towards the day in which we are living, by scientists concerned with our psychical and psychological make-up giving rise to related sciences. And by them we are told many beautiful things which do indeed help us to a better understanding of ourselves and the interaction with our environment; we are told how to socialize in some way rather than in another so as to keep our sanity and psychophysical integrity while the clerical class turns it all in Miserere mei Deus and miraculous spiritual medicaments which will in all probability, so long as we properly and generously feed this clerical class, return us in beatitude to the Gardens of Eden.
And here the psyche's use of the myths becomes clear as a powerful tool which proved itself indeed useful to keep society together, to avoid disintegration. Yet the psyche is a restless ocean and in turn, while originally fed by these myths it is confronted with changed environments an styles of life: following the invention of agriculture it meets with the introduction of industrialization, advanced technology, a shrunk world made such by fast travel and real time communication. So that the psyche finds it imperative to adapt to the actual environment where it has to express itself and starts digging within, rationally, to try to bring to the light and to understand what the shaping factor in its evolution has been.
It is a long trip, scantily illuminated by genuine history and fraught with intermingling horrible encounters and sublime visions which seldom are clearly deciphered among decoying symbols which are hard to understand, misleading and which usually, due to the unique mental-soil which nurtures them, do not lend themselves to the same meaning or interpretation as related to different perceivers of the same. So that now the psyche, while at the mercy of myths must raise up and confront the myths which shaped it and take the lead not to succumb; it has to put the myths at its own service as a means for survival, progress and well being. This becomes the mythical "War of the Titans" and it takes place right within ourselves, within our mind and to keep our sanity and integrity we must not give ground, it is a lifetime battle which most of the times ends in oblivion, many fall on the field, just a few gain victory.
Now the psyche speaks to us but not in a clear language readily understandable but in symbols, symbols which are part and parcel of its mythological history and the truth - or real meaning behind them is concealed, hidden by the mythical seven veils: these symbols clearly - from the symbol's point of view - express our longings, our problems, on the whole our psychical make up and what is disturbing or may improve it and so on.
A personal vision and three dreams of mine, which appear as pearls stuck on the single wire of a necklace will be described here. They are apparently well interconnected even if the timing of the psyche does not correspond to the timing shown by the clock on my wrist. They appear interconnected and related to each other but the lapse of time covers over forty years. Let me start with the vision:
Symbolic, in the wake state, sometime in the year 1972: "I wake up at about three in the morning, and while I lay in bed completely awake and apparently thoughtless staring in the darkness toward the ceiling, I realize that I am fully enclosed - right within - a magnificent golden egg. There I feel extremely well and serene but soon I realize that I will have to choose whether to remain within the golden egg or get out of it so that indeed a period of rational thought is brought about while confronting that situation which in itself has no taste of strangeness at all, it all appears absolutely normal and real. How much time elapsed I cannot say, it could have been not more than a few seconds, but at last I decided that I should get out of the egg although the wonderful feeling of being within it would have called for a different decision. As soon as I decided to get out of the egg, the golden shell disappeared and I found myself just like before the experience, wide awake and serene staring at the darkness above me - but no more thoughtless.
A dream with typical archetypal contents, about twenty years after the golden egg: "It is a very large cave with a seemingly spherical vault. Inside it is all very luminous but it is not a light belonging to this world, it is like unto the light shining within the heart of a diamond - although elsewhere I stated that I do not know what the light of the heart of a diamond looks like. The vault up above is pitch dark, below it is only water, a large and wonderful silvery lake apparently vanishing into its own horizons (maybe there is a bank on the left side - I cannot clearly recall). The water appears slightly crispy with shades of crystal-like white, light bleu and light green blending delicately into one another and I am immersed into it. A small bat swiftly crosses in between the vault and the lake and disappears far away apparently on my left side while I deeply enjoy being into these waters - it all seems very real. Some time passes by and therewith a huge bat, or more like a pterodactylus, a huge flying reptile of the late mesozoic era, appears in the sky and starts to fly in circles above me. I feel sure that it wishes to meagerly satisfy its own appetite with the help of the skinny earthling in the lake, and I see myself as a tiny black speck into that marvelous lake, helplessly at the mercy of that flying monster. There is nothing at all that I can do but getting swiftly out of the dream and I wake up ... " it is 02.30 in the morning of September 22, 1992.
Ten more years elapse when another significant dream enters my life. The dream contains an erotic element, but since this does not degenerate and appears as very meaningful I will relate it.
"I sit at a round table for a poker game with three other men, even if the game, particularly card games, does not attract me. Around us there are many onlookers. Each of us receives 17 cards, I am puzzled by the number of the cards which are served and somewhat dismayed from the fact the the cards are served face-up since I do not know that sort of game. I win, among the astonishment of the onlookers. The scene changes, and I find myself immersed to the waist into very calm and pleasant waters painted in the night, either a large lake or a sea which fuses itself with a faraway horizon in the darkness of the night, it seems that there is an island of a pyramidal form in front of me but the perception is not clear.To my right side, slightly backward, I perceive a very young girl but I do not see her even if I clearly see her blonde hairs, smooth hairs which do not reach the shoulder and which have the luster of gold. I am sexually aroused by the extremely pleasant sensation of the contact of my member on her thigh's skin and from the sensation that she is pleased as well. But the dream does not degenerate into erotic fancies and the scene changes: far away, within the darkness, I perceive a very luminous disk, white within and yellowish-orange on the edge. It gets bigger - or closer to me - but it does not dispel the darkness around it. Consciously I try to retain the vision for as much as I can and, indeed, it lasts quite a long time till it vanishes and I find myself in a luminous environment made of a yellow-orange-rose light which gradually builds up from my right side ... " and there the dream ends, at 04.00 hours of 12 October 2004, to be succeeded in less that a week's time by this dream:
“I have to go somewhere, not exactly defined in the dream. Abeba, a nice Eritrean girl is with me and she helps me to move aside the toilet booth and the hole underneath, like a trap door, discloses a vast chamber – but with no confines. The chamber is bathed in a clear whitish light, with no shadows and deserted. A fine ladder, painted in blue and made of tubular iron and as such very strong and safe hangs from the hole. It is very long and with many blue pegs, there is a great distance in between the hole and the bottom beneath but to my slight dismay the ladder ends quite a long distance from the base of the chamber. So, rather that climbing up the ladder, I decide to get a good mountain rope, there is no problem in finding it as it is somewhere in a drawer in the house … “ and the dream ends there, I will have to leave the descent into the chamber to some other dream if it will ever come about.
These visions and dreams are here related as case-history not taken from the records of a psychiatrist but from life-experience. The purpose for relating them is to show that, as already mentioned, the psyche's timing does not correspond to our concept of time and that these sort of experiences even if wide apart in time are strictly interconnected (since in this case and according to my life style I have little doubt about it) and, above all, the symbols within the vision and the dreams do correspond to the most classical types to be found in psychoanalytical tractates: the egg, the vault, the lake, the menacing flying reptile (pterodactylus), the young beautiful lady and the arousing sensation, the island, the bright light as well as the forming light dispelling the darkness, the hole for the descent, the finely finished strong and safe iron ladder with many pegs, the large and pleasant chamber with no bounds, the rope ... and the space left to reach the chamber's bottom. And, significantly in the last dream, the ladder and the rope indicate a downward direction, a sort of returning (which however fails since I have no dream-time to get the rope as dreams never end where we want them to end: this might conceal a great truth).
Taken as a whole visions and dreams symbolically loaded disclose the psyche's path along an irregular timeline which assumes great significance for the percipient in accordance with his style of life.
1] A very important distinction is here necessary: here "the tribe's mind" is mentioned and not "sunk deep into the (individual's) minds of the people of the tribe": this is what in turn will become C. G. Jung's "The Collective Unconscious".
2] Do I need to tell you that I never got an answer to the question: "What if I remained within the golden egg?".