Synchronicity and Archetype: Dreams, visions, prayers and prophecy
Following on from this month’s Jung Society lecture on Synchronicity we will explore how our inner spirituality effects the outer world through synchronicity and prayer
The effective (numinous) potencies in the unconscious are the archetypes. By far the greatest number of spontaneous synchronistic phenomena that I have had occasion to observe and analyse can easily be shown to have a direct connection with an archetype. This, in itself, is an irrepresentable, psychoid factor of the collective unconscious. The latter cannot be localized, since it is either complete in principle in every individual or is found to be the same everywhere. You can never say with certainty whether what appears to be going on in the collective unconscious of a single individual is not also happening in other individuals or organisms or things or situations. When, for instance, the vision arose in Swedenborg’s mind of a fire in Stockholm, there was a real fire raging there at the same time, without there being any demonstrable or even thinkable connection between the two. I certainly would not like to undertake to prove the archetypal connection in this case. I would only point to the fact that in Swedenborg’s biography there are certain things which throw a remarkable light on his psychic state. We must assume that there was a lowering of the threshold of consciousness which gave him access to “absolute knowledge.” The fire in Stockholm was, in a sense, burning in him too. For the unconscious psyche space and time seem to be relative; that is to say, knowledge finds itself in a space-time continuum in which space is no longer space, nor time time. If, therefore, the unconscious should develop or maintain a potential in the direction of consciousness, it is then possible for parallel events to be perceived or “known.”
We begin a conversation, or continue one in the open when we pray. From a psychological point of view, we concentrate libido on the God-image. By emptying our conscious mind and transferring its energy and expectation to this primordial image, we allow it to activate, to change us. Jung describes it thus: “the libido is …immersed in introversion and is allegorised as God’s Kingdom. This amounts to living in the Kingdom, in that state where a preponderance of libido lies in the unconscious and determines conscious life.” What happens as a result is that we know a precious “childlikeness” where we feel borne along by the current of life, where what was dammed up can now flow without restraint… “things go of themselves”. This is “that unique inner condition on which blissfulness depends … it means to possess a treasury of accumulated libido which can constantly stream forth (Jung 1971 par 422)
When we pray we give over and invoke. We surrender our ego control and enter into a conversation with a power greater than ourselves that none the less inhabits us and strongly influences our lives. We grow more conscious and less repressed; our energy flows unblocked, and we confess – that is become aware of – our weakest places, where our fabric has worn the thinnest and our wounds still bleed. There God meets us and binds up our wounds and unites us with others in a new community. In psychological terms, we describe all this as giving over to the primordial, opening to the power of archetypal images that come from the deep unconscious, and seeing through them to the transcendent they point to.
Ann Ulanov, “Jung on Prayer” in Jung and Monotheism page 99