Abstract: The article investigates the Neoplatonic Self notion. In the historical record the ideal of personality and the psychological notion of Self have taken many forms. Also the modern ideals of Self are discussed and criticized, such as the 'puer aeternus' (eternal youth) and the 'primal' or 'uroboric' Self. The author argues that Carl Jung's Self archetype is one-sidedly immanent--there is also a transcendental aspect of Self. In the heated debate between Porphyry and Iamblichus, both were right in their own way.

Keywords: Plotinus, Neoplatonism, primary narcissism, grandiose self, ego-Self axis, Erich Neumann, Michael Fordham, psychoanalysis, puer aeternus, Romantic era.

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Mats Winther

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Who says, the breaking of the moral chains was essential to the Dionysian cult. This is a hostile later day projection laid over the archetype. This idea emanates from non greeks around the time when the idea of Dionysos was an anathema to the christians and existed as decadent cult figure among the ignorant and manipulative. The Dionysos of classical Athens and of Homer bears no resemblance to what your sources are projecting onto Dionysos. There were no Dionysian orgies and immoral debauchery going on when the Athenians enacted their version of the Dionysian rights. As for Homer Homer did not disavow Dionysos but only ignored him. Presumably his paean to the majesty of the Olympians  over road the  necessity to include the anarchic and messy mythologem of the twice mothered and thrice born archetype. Belatedly and in a passive Athenian iteration Dionysos was granted Olympian status... 

Why would Dionysos endure such a venomous assault from what is essentially the Christians. Dionysos even as he stood at in a degenerate declining civilization still carried an aura and esteem and history which the misguided elements in the christian church wanted to appropriate. Look Dionysian represents the amaterial component of spirit just as Apollo represents the spirits imperative to give order to matter. How you equate amateriality to swirling dervishes is what I don't understand. Dionysos brought the prospect of immortality and individuality to the greeks. His orgiastic identity emanates from and is rooted in his awesome and his mind blowing introduction of  immortality and individuality into human existence. Swirling dervishes be gone. Feel free to disagree with me but I have stated my case. As ever the challenge is much appreciated Mats.


Dionysus shares the following attributes in common with the Christ character as found in the New Testament and Christian tradition. 

"Early Christian art is rich with Dionysiac associations, whether in boisterous representations of agape feasting, in the miracle of water-into-wine at Cana, in wine and vine motifs alluding to the Eucharaist, and most markedly...in the use of Dionysiac facial traits for representations of Christ."


So the notion of spiritual emancipation, which is the central maxim of the Dionysian cult, was very curious. As far as I know, there is no corresponding cult in the modern world---mats winther

I am not sure what you mean by modern world here mats. At samothrace I believe Dionysos was called iason. He was Osisris in egypt, He was Attis amongst the Phrygians. As Dionysos he even't went to India but I am sure the indians had their own local representation of the Dionysian idea established long before the Greek Dionysos arrived. The Jungian Edward Whitmont has a book wherein he points out some of the various other archetypal incarnations of the Dionysian idea. I didn't bother so much with these other variants of the Dionysian myth because the Greeks in my estimation are the best mythographers in the world. Our problem is a lot of their mythopoetic output was not preserved. 

Wikipedia is OK but they are presenting a scholarly assessment of Dionysian religion as made by who mats? Wikipedia is not presenting the Greeks understanding of Dionysos here are they? There is no ancient greek source for this interpretation. This makes it an opinionated projection.

At the height of post homeric classical Greek civilizational the Dionysian cult did not challenge authority. A relatively innocuous archetype inspired his devotees to complete their cultic veneration. And Dionysos was so ingrained into Greek civilization that they honored him with great dramatic performances which inspire modern people to this very day. Does anyone see whirling dirvishes in Greek drama. The plays are filled with pathos and a deep ingrained understanding of the human predicament. These plays are not the gift of a whirling dervish but gifts containing a deep and compassionate understanding of our humanity. They are dedicated to and inspired by the god of tragedy Dionysos, There is so much that lies behind the facile and negative projections laid upon the Dionysian archetype. 

back to mats:

the cultic practice was designed to breach the natural order, but also to demote the authorities of society (to reduce our feeling of respect for them).

After all, Dionysos is the destroyer of "patriarchal order", so how can he be its benefactor?

ekes... you are taking Dionysos out of context here. The Dionysian mythologem unfolds in the  patriarchies prehistory. The unfolding Dionysian mythologem is ultimately what gives birth to the individual. The patriarchal order the rule of the Spirit cannot emerge until the individual emerges. This is why the rematerializing Dionysian archetype experiences a sudden premature birth from his second mother Semele.. The ascending individual must be provided with a paternal foundation in which to root his individuality. Otherwise the patriarchy can't be born. The premature birth scenario symbolically depicts this transition from a maternal/mother complex type of foundation for the individuating ego to a paternal/spiritual foundation. Dionysos does not destroy the patriarchal order. His developmental destiny is the spiritual enterprise that ends the matriarchal order and is the transitional dynamic that enables  the emergence of the patriarchal order

The only law Dionysos broke was the law of materiality. He is the amaterial dimension of the human spirit.

The only incest taboo Zeus and Hera broke was the brother sister incest taboo but they were the only archetypes/ones allowed to do so. Individuals do not marry their sisters in imitation. But the individual is able to simultaneously maintain a material and spiritual relationship with one and the same woman. This is made possible because a part of the individuals character is rooted in the amaterial  or spiritual component of human nature. It is amaterial and sexless. I think in a more common vernacular it is worded as you are not just my lover but my friend as well.

Prometheus is the titanic equivalent of Hephaistos. Well to be more precise Prometheus/Epimetheus equate to Hephaistos. Because behind the fool Epimetheus lies forethought or Prometheus. This is what hillman did not understand when he played/acted the fool or as he described it as the trickster. Foolishness is purposive. Prometheus and Epimetheus were named as the two titans who murdered and dismembered Dionysos.[kerenyi] 

The only evil one can attribute to Prometheus is he with held the name of the God who was to displace the almighty Zeus from his rule over Olympus. Zeus's fear of the emergence of a new more powerful God led him to initiate the Trojan war and hence to initiate the destruction of the Homeric world. Meaning I am sticking to both agape the god of love for mankind and Greek understanding in regard to evil. Lucifer is just not represented in the best map of a dynamic and living multidimensional map of Unconscious that has ever been produced. 

mats said:

It is true that the divison between light and dark, transcendence and immanence, is not as pronounced in Greek mythology as in the Hebrew conception. However, Lucifer and Prometheus belong to the same archetype, although they are valued differently. Lucifer means 'bringer of dawn' or 'bringer of light'. Prometheus, who stole the fire and brought it to mankind, is the corresponding god in Greek mythology.

Mats Winther

This is a case where the devil is not in the details Mats. Lucifer and Prometheus do not belong to the same archetype. Prometheus's support for Zeus enabled Zeus to overcome the Titans and secure the Olympian/patriarchal order. If Prometheus was akin to Lucifer as you suggest , then the devil was responsible for the ascension of God/Zeus. 

During the Titanomachy, the war between the Titansand the Olympian gods, Prometheus sided with Zeus, helping to overthrow the old gods.


Kerenyi is more specific in his book 'Prometheus' "He presents a striking resemblance and a striking contrast to the Christian Savior. More than any other Greek God, he intercedes for mankind, makes common cause with men. Therein lies the resemblance. But Christ suffered human existence as a man.... Prometheus never appears as a man. He was a mythological being and was never anything else." ---Karl Kerenyi Prometheus page 3.

And here is an extended extract from 

The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors, by Kersey Graves, [1875], at sacred-texts.com





In the account of the crucifixion of Prometheus of Caucasus, as furnished by Seneca, Hesiod, and other writers, it is stated that he was nailed to an upright beam of timber, to which were affixed extended arms of wood, and that this cross was situated near the Caspian Straits. The modern story of this crucified God, which represents him as having been bound to a rock for thirty years, while vultures preyed upon his vitals, Mr. Higgins pronounces an impious Christian fraud. "For," says this learned historical writer, "I have seen the account which declares he was nailed to a cross with hammer and nails." (Anac. vol. i. 327.) Confirmatory of this statement is the declaration of Mr. Southwell, that "he exposed himself to the wrath of God in his zeal to save mankind." 

The poet, in portraying his propitiatory offering, says:— 

"Lo! streaming from the fatal tree 
His all atoning blood, 
Is this the Infinite?—Yes, ’tis he, 
Prometheus, and a God! 
"Well might the sun in darkness hide, 
And veil his glories in, 
When God, the great Prometheus, died 
For man the creature's sin." 

The "New American Cyclopedia" (vol. i. p. 157) contains 

p. 125 

the following significant declaration relative to this sin-atoning oriental Savior: "It is doubtful whether there is to be found in the whole range of Greek letters deeper pathos than that of the divine woe of the beneficent demigod Prometheus, crucified on his Scythian crags for his love to mortals." Here we have first-class authority for the crucifixion of this oriental God. 

In Lempriere's "Classical Dictionary," Higgins’ "Anacalypsis," and other works, may be found the following particulars relative to the final exit of the God above named, viz.:— 

1. That the whole frame of nature became convulsed. 

2. The earth shook, the rocks were rent, the graves were opened, and in a storm, which seemed to threaten the dissolution of the universe, the solemn scene forever closed, and "Our Lord and Savior" Prometheus gave up the ghost. 

"The cause for which he suffered," says Mr. Southwell, "was his love for the human race." Mr. Taylor makes the statement in his Syntagma (p. 95), that the whole story of Prometheus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection was acted in pantomime in Athens five hundred years before Christ, which proves its great antiquity. Minutius Felix, one of the most popular Christian writers of the second century (in his "Octavius," sect. 29), thus addresses the people of Rome: "Your victorious trophies not only represent a simple cross, but a cross with a man on it," and this man St. Jerome calls a God. 

These coincidences furnish still further proof that the tradition of the crucifixion of Gods has been very long prevalent among the heathen. 


we seem to be at a crossroads here mats. You associate Prometheus with Lucifer and ultimately Satan  Lucifer opened the way up for Satan to promote the pursuit of satanism in the material world,  Prometheus on the other hand helped Zeus to triumph over the Titans and thereby enable the Olympian rule to prevail. He also suffered so as to make the human lot better.

Light can be used to pursue Luciferian/Satanic ends as well as the good. Prometheus is one of the good archetypes and his suffering bears witness to that. Lucifer is off somewhere licking his fingers and planning his next satanic act.

Since this discussion is taking shape as a "sect" that doesn't have a very good opinion about Hillman, I'll mention here embodied imagination: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_imagination (http://www.depthpsychologyalliance.com/profile/RobertBosnak). In a way chaotic imagination suggested by Hillman combined with "embodiment" is something I feel relatively comfortable with, since I think that embodiment is like reflecting on what you are doing (rather than Peter Pan flying around), recognition of the role of the Self. Does that make any sense?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFng0WCJ8X8 - James Hillman on Archetypal Psychotherapy & the Soulless Society

"My trousers are too short because I'm awesome."

hmmm.... I watched the video as well. Other then a s posturing towards the soul what did you learn from it. I thought so. With due respect to Hillman this video was not representative of his thoughts.... so alek do you feel up to taking the mats winther challenge or are you going to wait for tacey's critique of hillman.


believe me and unlike in the video you presented you will learn something from mats essay..

I added that video not only because of what he said, but how he said it. It's like actors who play their role (a role of a weirdo, someone who does stuff with his clothes, in Hillman's case) even when they aren't on the stage. In that sense, if someone sees Hillman as an inspiration, but adds "something else" (embodiment - seemingly not so different from Sufism, yoga, Buddhism (different schools of Buddhism as different approaches to embodiment), and such) for it to work, it's fine with me. There's no need to change anything about Jung's ideas (except maybe psychological types, but psychological functions are still relevant), it's individuals and the current situation (whenever and wherever one lives) that are different.

Exactly  Alek. You hit the nail right on the head when you said, "Its like actors".... An actor consciously pulling a con. And to teach you what? What did you learn from the epiphany of this fool. The video has no content as far as learning something goes. Do you see any? You have already admitted there is no learnable content. Oh wait a moment the video says...I hillman am a guru. I am channeling the fool. That is the only content I happen to see. An imitation of the fool. it is a great con if you can get away with it.

 Imago dei. Where is the numinosity in this video? The archetype of the fool must be numinous. The only fool in regard to this video is the fools who fall for the self serving and self adultory con. Hang on I gotta go out and bang drums with brother john.

:-) Seriously, though, my entrance into altered states of consciousness was when I was playing with imagination and "shape-shifting" as a teenager. In that sense (Flower-Power, but without drugs in my case), I do have some respect for getting wild during imagination. In that sense, Mysterium Coniuctionis serves just fine. That doesn't in any way mean that my experiences (some of them totally deranged) are universal or anything, but they do resemble experiences from other people. In that sense, I don't think that anyone ever (I might be wrong) thought that Hillman's approach is the most coherent and most complete, that it's enough to read Hillman if you want to understand depth psychology. Except maybe Hillman. I still see him as an interesting reminder to question what is possible in the realm of imagination, where are the limits. I think that Pink Floyd was the best with Syd Barrett, but at what cost?

This discussion is incomplete without talking about emergence and whether or not something can emerge out of nothing.

well he affected being a fool and a trickster whereas I saw a cheap and second hand  manifestation of hermes the thief grasping at your adulation while secretly despising you for your cupidity at the same time.  Well you shouldn't have brought the video forth on a depth psychology page. There are too many psychological analysts here.  Are there any second opinions out there. Hillman's thoughts are in his written work and they deserve "critical respect"  because they were fashioned by an above average mind....Being ecumenical doesn't and shouldn't prevent calling out a con.

As far as approaches similar to Hillman go, I'll stick to Dion Fortune (Who was she, right?). Or listen or read someone elaborating Hillman's work for me, why not.

He was definitely more an "author" than a scientist. Still, with some fixatives and bandages here and there (for instance embodied imagination - Jung returning through the back door), he is interesting. Far from a textbook material, though. Again, an author or someone (or a situation) totally out of his/her mind can be an inspiration for thinking about how far imagination can and should go.

When you are standing on shoulders of giants, there is a difference between respect and doing something to that shoulder. For instance, some of these quotes http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_hillman.html aren't bad.If I read something important or even impressive in Castaneda's books, it doesn't (shouldn't) mean anything about my honesty or sexual life.

I've read that Hesse's books are sold in more than 125 millions. Does anyone know how many Jung's books are sold, or Freud vs. Jung for that matter? It's not like it's important how successful is Charles Darwin as a "writer", but still.


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