The Flight of Icarus - Jacob Gowry

The Flight of Icarus – Jacob Gowry

Given that humans evolved from apes who most likely were tree dwellers, it is not surprising that the experience of falling is deeply embedded in our psyches. Falling dreams are one of the most common human dream motifs – and people can wake in a sweat in a response to a deep feeling of loss of control and a rushing devastation at the bottom.

It is not wonder then that falling becomes a pseudonym in spirituality for loss of control. Within the mystical traditions falling is often paralleled with the experience of the loss of ego. It can be equated with the loss of self in the divine, a sense of falling into God and being dissolved in something greater than ourselves. Within some Western mystical traditions it can be likened to falling in love with God. See Falling in love. It comes with the promise of a loss of ego concerns. Within some parts of Eastern tradition in Zen Buddhism the focus comes onto the insight into the illusion of the separate self and the giving up of ego.

The archetypal experience of falling also gets intertwined with the common deeply embedded association of God with the heavens above, humanity as below on earth and the underworld beneath. Falling then becomes associated in religious language with a kind of descent from closeness to God. Morally we have the idea of the fallen woman – one who has lost moral control and approval from God. In Christianity we have the idea of the “fall of humanity” which is a doctrine of the loss of moral innocence, from the ideal state of close fellowship with God to a separation from the divine which then has to be bridged. Lucifer, as the angel who fell from heaven because of his pride (ego), then becomes a sort of archetype of the fallen one in the theology of the church.