I think Jung was brilliant, visionary, but I still wonder about his views on alchemy, mythology and astrology - all massive examples of projection? Really? Your thoughts...

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Hi Thom - Can you define what you / Jung mean by "projection?" I wonder if this is like what I call "mythic imprinting?" Thanks! Willi

Projection means the expulsion of a subjective content into an object; it is the opposite of introjection. Accordingly, it is a process of dissimilation, by which a subjective content becomes alienated from the subject and is, so to speak, embodied in the object. The subject gets rid of painful, incompatible contents by projecting them.[Definitions,"CW6, par. 783.]

Projection + The Extended Mind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Extended_Mind) = Mythic Imprinting

I am solely responsible for this equation.

From my work: Mythic Imprinting – Imprinting is defined as a two-way interaction with a selected Artifact that has generates synergistic meaning for both participants and the Artifact. Called “mythic imprinting” in the Myth Lab, this iterative and transmutative process is grounded in the initiation, journey and hero work from Joseph Campbell and is one way that neighborhood artifacts can help neighbors generate new songs, poems and myths.


Isn't any symbolic system a kind of projection?  A language helps us make what is internal, externally visible.  In this way we can manipulate the symbols as a way of being able to become aware of and act upon an internal substance that otherwise would remain invisible to us. 

It seems to me that the value of alchemy, mythology, etc.. is that these are languages which are more descriptive of our internal states and processes and which carry a greater "charge" than normal everyday language.  As such, they make for powerful "handles" which through understanding, manipulation, and symbolic action, give us access to inner processes and complexes that we otherwise would not be able to access. 

In the pdf, "AQAL is Archetypal," I describe both Integral theory and the Tarot as languages of the psyche as well, and on page 9, I show how the Tarot can be used symbolically to gain access to additional perspectives which otherwise might remain latent.


I would like to address your question and in part, something that Ric brought up. One of the problems we encounter with this word "projection" lies in how the word is applied. In response to Willies' question I cut and paste Jung's definition of the word, one I might add is how the word is used in its clinical application. Following on Freud invention of the term, projection is an unconscious defense employed by the ego against threatening content. The psyche in this case literally projects or as Jung says, expels the material onto a receptive object. In the case of alchemy, Jung believed that the alchemists were projecting unconscious material onto substances and then attempted to purify or in some other way transform the content, thus relieving the threat and possibly enhancing the entire psychic situation. The reason I raised this issue in the first place is to question whether Jung was entirely right, i.e. can all of alchemy be reduced to projection, or might there be some actual physical change that took place in their work? Certainly the likes of Newton and Paracelsus before him believed that alchemy was not all just psychological, that there was actual physical change in the process.

Your use of the word projection is more pejorative, sought of like maya, illusion or even symbolic but in any event not clinical in the way I've just described the use of the term. Symbols are as you say, a means used to point toward the unconscious, but this is not projection; symbols facilitate communication, whereas projection oftentimes obstructs communication. I will take a look at your paper but I might say at the outset, I don't think Wilbur understands Jung or the reality of the unconscious psyche. This is not to say that he didn't construct a useful system, a topography of consciousness; for a map of the unconscious I look to Jung. The Tarot is a wonderful set of images that symbolize many of the major archetypes; as used for divination, I'm sure you're aware of von Franz's book on this subject.


There is anima projection as well as shadow projection.  All of the above uses are possible - psychological as well as physical.  What I was alluding to was the injunctive use of these symbols in the Western Mystery tradition which is not related to divination.

Thanks for the reply!



Thank you for the reply.  Part of the mix-up may be that we're coming to the subject of Alchemy from incommensurate frameworks.   In my opinion, a topic as complex as Alchemy requires a multi-perspectival approach, and not just a clinical one. 

Unfortunately, the problem with incommensurate frameworks is that unless an enfolding framework is found which can embrace multiple perspectives, we are going to either misunderstand each other or we'll need to spend much energy in translation - neither of which are easy to do on an online forum.




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