Company of Me

MANY people are facing their demons for the first time. Those of us who have had a head start in this department can be thankful that to a degree, we were prepared for the solitude, anxiety and soul-searching that lockdown inevitably entails. I guess this is why so many fight tooth and nail for the right to hang out with the crowd, perhaps not so much because they are selfish but because it is the only way they know how to shut up their inner demons. They are literally afraid of ther own shadow. So much as it is tempting to judge, just remember what’s at the back of it when you see people flagrantly breaching COVID restrictions.

As for confronting your demons, athough it is not without pain, it’s not as bad as you think. Once you get to know them, it can actually be quite satisfying. At least that has been my experience. Think of it as a team-building exercise (Storming, Forming and Norming)!

Shadow in a Nutshell

Imagine living in a world where mobile phones were non-standard, each one different from the next and using every functionality in ts very own instruction manual. Then imagine a world where the technology was surplus to requirements, for within the collective human psyche lay all the apps we would ever need.

* * * * *

In addition to all the hardware necessary for basic life, most humans arrive into the world with various components that allow them to process and store equally various forms of data. Not only do we usually incorporate a built-in camera, mic and speaker system, we have other cool sensory devices that allow us to taste and smell.

The human operating system comes complete with a range of awesome apps that enable us to survive, communicate with one another and hopefully thrive. However, the suite that we are born with is as unique to us as our fingerprints.

Some things come as standard, of course. If you imagine the file manager as your psyche, then the desktop, where we tend to keep all the programs and files we use on a regular basis, would equate roughly to the conscious part of your mind.

Just as we don’t know the half of what is available to us on our mobile phones, they say that we use only 10% of our brains and that was even before the technology existed. Could that be because most of our functionalities are languishing in the Recycle bin?

Dumbing down

Society is only interested in those apps that are of value to it, for instance mathematical, scientific, literary or linguistic ability. Where present, these are cultivated at the expense of everything else. The rejection of anything that does not support the prevailing economic paradigm is policed unwittingly, sometimes ruthlessly, by our family and our peers.

The standardisation process begins at the earliest possible opportunity. By the time we reach elementary/primary school, we know all about what ‘it’ is to be a boy or a girl. We are subsequently introduced to a host of other opposites. Something is either good or bad, strong or weak, beautiful or ugly, big or small, nice or nasty, smart or stupid – in-betweenness is viewed with scorn. We are trained to pigeon-hole even ourselves and this can occur in any combination of postives and negatives.

This is how some of the apps we were born with get deleted or fall into disuse, either because other people don’t ‘like’ them or we don’t. As we grow older, whole experiences join the ‘forgotten’ scrapheap. Over time our Recycle bin becomes so congested that our entire system slows down. Thing is, and this is the real kicker, these deleted files are still running and they’re more powerful than if they hadn’t been rejected in the first place …

This is why we’re all so f**ked up …

Welcome to the world of the Shadow, the term Carl Jung used to describe the repressed part of the human unconscious. According to his theories, in order for wholeness to be achieved, the psychic opposites must be reunited and resolved, in other words healed.

Factory Settings Plus

Nobody was born ‘weird’. The environment that we were born into made us that way. We are all unique, only the ones who are better able to standardise are rewarded and thrive.

If you discovered that a whole side of you existed that you didn’t know was there, only visible in thoughts, acts and feelings that you were hesitant to own, and if you knew that by reintegrating these discarded elements of yourself, you could restore your software to a higher-performing state, would you not sign up for the adventure of a lifetime?

The Inner Journey

During the writing of my memoir, THE LOST SECRET, I didn’t have much time or mental energy to research the psychological processes I was going through. That came later and even then, there was a limit to how much time I could devote to study, given that I have more to offer by allowing myself to experience the reality first hand.

Although I have sought to detach myself from belief systems and existing theories, it so happens that the work of Carl Jung best describes my journey, even if the specifics are entirely unique. I also draw on the work of Joseph Campbell and James Hillman. Although coming at it from their own angle, Jung, Campbell and Hillman all point in the same general direction.

It also has to be said that some of my experiences may challenge these theories, for instance, the way Jung differentiates between the Shadow and the Animus. This is to be expected given the evolutions that have taken place since his time. Jung said himself that it was up to future generations to build on what he had started.

While it is my intention to stick to what I know to be true for myself and leave the explanations to others, I do occasionally ‘break’ this rule. However, where I do, I merely dip my toe in the water. I avoid statements of ‘fact’, erring instead in favour of perspectives based on personal experience and insight. After all, the whole point of all this is that we are, and should always be, a work in progress. Your experience may bear different results.

To some of you, the ideas I touch on will be already familiar. Many of you will never have heard of indivduation/psychosynthesis or archetypes. Some of you might already be in the throes of your own personal journey and like me would benefit from some sort of explanation for the bewildering changes you are experiencing.

So I felt it would be useful to signpost readers in the right direction should they decide to undertake their own research (regardless of their level of exposure to the ‘real deal’). My Resources page is also a work in progress. It includes a handful of articles I wrote on key elements of Jung’s work. These are not in-depth and are intended only to whet the appetite.

Resources page at https://mkmacinnes.com/resources/

Please feel free to suggest amendments or additions.

The Other Half

BY NOW, it’s pretty obvious that I am a big fan of Carl Jung. In an earlier post, I spoke about the Shadow, the collective name for those parts of our psyche that become consigned to the unconscious for reasons of conditioning or trauma, to name but a few. Fortunately, through the self-healing process of individuation (or psychosynthesis), a person could painstakingly reassemble their fragmented psyche into an integrated whole. A satisfying never-ending journey not for the faint-hearted. Jung spoke of yet another aspect of the psyche, that is not entirely separate from, yet distinct from, the Shadow. He called this the Anima/Animus.

For a woman, the Animus represents those parts of her psyche that are regarded as masculine and have been repressed since childhood, such as confidence and leadership, while for a man, the Anima represents the feminine, repressed parts of his, such as compassion and intuition.

So for instance, speaking only of my generation and coming from a mixed-sex school environment, girls were raised not to stand up for themselves and put other people’s, especially men’s, needs over their own, so typically, a little girl might grow up as a pleaser with low self-esteem. Boys on the other hand were taught to act tough, suppress their emotions and fight their way out of difficulty, so typically, a little boy might turn into a bully with an over-inflated opinion of his abilities and who does whatever the hell he wants. I am, of course, generalising – the reality was far more nuanced.

Carl Jung believed that when it comes to peeling back the onion layers of the unconscious, the Anima/Animus is stored in the very deepest recesses and so represents the final stage in the individuation journey once the Shadow stage is complete. However, I have found the two to be interchangeable and the work on both to be in parallel. The extent to which the Anima/Animus is distinct from the Shadow may well depend on the environment into which a person is born. Gender-based expectations were more pronounced in Jung’s time, so it would follow that the personal journey that informed the bulk of his research is coloured accordingly.

Jung also did not account for greyer areas in sexual identity and it is generally recognised in therapeutic circles nowadays that both men and women exhibit/repress both anima/animus traits. If Jung were to time travel to the present, he would almost certainly have to revisit many of his assumptions. The key is not to take his ideas too literally.

Of course, the notion that men and women are fundamentally different has been around for millennia. With the advent of Christianity, the onus was on women to be ‘saints’, while men had carte blanche to be ‘sinners’ if they felt so inclined and as long as nobody was looking. Scientific dogmas for gender difference are more recent – Men are from Mars and Women from Venus seemed to knock on the head once and for all any ideas I had that men and women were sexual equals. Based on what I know now about the part conditioning plays in identity and behavioural development, it turns out that I may have been right all along, and we are in fact all a dizzying cocktail of what we might term ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ qualities. Just as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are man-made, so too are gender behaviours. There are indeed natural differences but these are far more subtle that we have been led to believe.

The end result of generations of societal cherry-picking is that noone but noone operates on full capacity. If for argument’s sake we say that we exhibit 50% of our full potential (chances are it really is 10%), then you can see how so many people feel a gaping void and the concept of a missing other half arises. As harsh as it sounds, putting all the hormonal, physical aspects of biological sex to one side, when we fall in love, we are in fact falling for the missing parts of ourselves whom the object of our desire just happens to best represent. This is the X-factor, that thing you cannot put your finger on and why when they say “It’s not you, it’s me”, they really do mean it (though it doesn’t seem that way at the time).

So if Jung is right, then romantic love as we have come to know it is nothing more a societal construct, a projection, the outcome of millennia of conditioning. Yes, boooooooooo!! Romantic love would not exist if we were whole.

Much is currently made of the Patriarchy that has held sway for what seems like an eternity across the world. What tends to be overlooked is that both sexes have been hammered into conformity. Even in these crazy times, what is exciting is that men and women have an opportunity to liberate themselves from centuries of bullshit and rediscover the truth of their entire being.

We are the One.

Hand to Hand

I have a former work colleague who is happy to watch people arguing partisan politics online for hours on end. Me, I couldn’t do it, it would drive me insane. But so she tells me, she has spotted an interesting trend. Something interesting is happening in the Brexit/Scottish independence debates.

We all know the script. Usually, it is the conservative/defending position that takes the more aggressive stance. The opposing side is the ‘enemy’. Although generally speaking, the progressive position plays less dirty, with repeated exposure over time, both sides can become as bad as each other.It is now standard practice for political campaigns to use paid agents provocateurs to veer public opinion in their favour or away from where the discourse might naturally flow. These campaigns also act as magnets to organic trolls acting out their fear of the unknown. You can always tell which ones are which. The paid trolls give themselves away every time in their sheer stamina and consistency in their use of poltical jargon. It is laughable to think that only the Russians could be capable of such a thing!

The organic trolls, however, are real people. Sad, maybe. Bitter, maybe. But real nonetheless.

And this is where tentative change is occurring.

Taking an argument about COVID resrictions in the UK as an example, the engagements might start with the usual mudslinging but if the time is taken to interrogate the reasoning behind certain assumptions and postions, what becomes clear is that a) the ‘troll’ is acting on misinformation, a misapprehension or a misunderstanding b) they genuinely believe what they are saying c) they are over the moon to discover that they have the wrong end of the stick and d) they are really just scared and want someone to take the time to listen to their concerns. The overriding theme is loneliness.

Of course there are maldoers and idiots among them, but contrary to popular misconception (promoted by the media I have to say), the majority of these bitter, angry people are as sensitive as you or I, they have just learned to process their emotions differently. In the rush to embrace other disenfranchised parts of the community, such as ethnic groups, women or the LGBT community, the old mainstream was pushed to one side by the progressive elites.

Obviously, there are individuals out there who have figured this out and who are willing to take the time to engage on a more human level with their political opponents. They are not engaging from a position of moral or intellectual superiority but as equals. Friendships are forming. Some are meeting in real life over coffee.

I am writing this because I feel strongly that our brothers and sisters across the Pond need to be reassured that this is how it is done. Not by Washington, not Westminster – just us.

Reunifying a divided population is possible but it has to be undertaken in a sprit of compassion – at the grass roots, on an individual level. It is less about finding common political ground than about rediscovering our common humanity. If we can do that, the politics will do just fine.

Heaven’s Gate

A FEW years back (2014-15), during the most turbulent throes of my inner journey, I turned to the most readily available source of information, the Internet. It was only too easy to find an explanation for what was happening to me. Not only was I ‘ascending’, so was the whole damned planet. In short, the ‘awakened’ part of humanity would evolve into a higher dimension, while those that didn’t would remain in this denser reality. Conveniently, both would become invisble to the other. The ‘good’ guys would ‘escape’ the Apocalypse. Sounded pretty appealing.

Despite the holes, once I had adjusted to the idea, I embraced it. Months later I found myself in a situation where I thought to myself “Hang on, something isn’t right here.” The thing is that instead of feeling more centred, balanced, calm, during my quest to find out what was going on with my soul, I became more anxious, as the list of practices I had to learn, stuff I had to know, grew longer. Like which angels did what or what colours to avoid during visualisation. Worse, when was IT going to happen. The Ascension ‘symptoms’ grew worse the more aware of them I became.

Using different key words, I googled a bit deeper, only to find that the Ascension program was most likely a spectacular con, designed to distract those who might otherwise be capable of breaking the status quo and make a few bucks in the process. This alleged hoax was perpetuated by the very agencies that were supposedly trying so hard to prevent it occurring at all. (Did it never occur to anyone that the ‘Illuminati’ might actually WANT every Misfit under the Sun to pack their bags and “””” off to another planet?!)

I also learned that following a spiritual path was less about acquiring ‘spiritual’ knowledge and more about ditching belief systems altogether. Deep down I had always known this and a load was lifted.

So I nipped it in the bud, spent less time dwelling on it and more time following my own inner guidance system, regardless of whether it conformed to any known spiritual practice. Hey presto, the electrical sensations in my crown chakra soon stopped.

Now that I have come to an understanding of the individuation process as described by Carl Jung, the best argument against a collective Ascension scenario is this. One of the basic principles of analytical psychology is that in order to become more whole, we each have to delve into our own Unconscious to integrate the Shadow, those parts of our psyche that we have rendered inaccessible. According to Jung and others, this is done at an individual level. Yes, critical mass can be achieved collectively but it is NOT a group effort. More importantly, in order to ascend, we first have to DESCEND.

Denial and dissociation are what create the Shadow in the first place. And, no matter how many times we try to kill or refuse to acknowledge it, the Shadow doesn’t simply go away. So what makes us think that by committing the most spectacular act of dissociation ever we can guarantee our own salvation? What happens when the Veil cracks and the Shadow comes back to haunt us millennia from now? What will have prepared our descendants for the shock of coming into contact with a world we had wilfully chosen to ignore?

I am not suggesting for one minute that the idea of collective planetary ascension has no truth to it – indeed, if it is a hoax, the best ones have a basis in truth – but that wholesale acceptance of the ‘Ascension Program’ as it has been packaged is a trap. Even if the prospect of splitting off from the horror of life on this planet is real enough, take it from me, when you commit a deliberate act of forgetfulness and it comes back to bite you in the bum, it is not pretty.

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2020

Apocalypse

Depending on who you talk to, the Apocalypse is either the end of everything or the end of life as we know it. Me, I never imagined that when it finally happened, it would be like watching paint dry …

Regardless of whether we are in THE Apocalypse, certainly by definition we are in AN apocalypse of sorts. The word itself means revelation, the removal of the veil of illusion when all will be revealed and nothing will be left hidden. It is easy to see how that could translate in the context of the internet age; it is difficult these days for even governments to keep anything hidden. So apocalypse is less about suffering and more about being forced to see things as they are.

We tend to fixate on the external physical suffering. Most of the graphic imagery of Revelation is not literal but symbolic, in that most of the action occurs within the psyche. And there is a clear implication that we ourselves are co-creators of our own suffering. Again, this correlates with the warnings that if we don’t change course now, our planet will die and us with it.

However you cut it, every end is a new beginning. Without death there is no rebirth. Things have to break down in order to build back up. In some countries, apocalyptic events occur on a continuous basis. Try tellling them it’s not the Apocalypse. The earth has endured countless cataclysmic events and this current world crisis will not be the last.

The greatest arrogance, of course, is for any one of us to believe that we have any greater prerogative than anyone else to survive anything the earth throws at us. God or no God, ultimately, Mother Nature will call the shots. The more we try and control our way out of this, the worse it will be.

Whatever happens, if it is in my own destiny to survive the global crisis, I look forward to seeing what lies on the other side. Hopefully, it will be a world where hate and anger have burnt out and Gaia has a fighting chance to recover from Us.

Questing and the Ego

FOR WEEKS it has been my intention to pull together all my Carl Jung notes on the ego into a semi-erudite article, to follow on from my earlier attempts on the Shadow and the Heros’s Journey. However, my overthinking quota is up for this week, so I’ll stick instead to my own observations.

The ego refers to that part of the conscious psyche that deals with survival and how we fit into the world. As we grow from childhood into adulthood, it generally becomes corrupted by the banishment of undesirable traits into the unconscious (the Shadow – I deal with this elsewhere). I suppose this is why the word ‘ego’ has such a bad press – it has come to be associated with unhealthy egos (dickheads).

In eastern philosphy, the ego is regarded as something that must be transcended in order for us to become enlightened. We are but specks and life is but a meandering river of infinite possibilities. Not everything is knowable.

Western philosophers, on the other hand, gave us the idea of the questing hero. Now it’s all about pursuing – and winning. Life is there for the taking, if you’ve got the self-belief to do it. The wealth of infinite possibilties resides within you and anything that is not knowable does not exist.

Both schools of thought are unrealistic because they cherry-pick (they are also not comparing like with like). Transcending the ego is nigh on impossible for most folks and overemphasis on control and self-determination takes no account of the fact that our lives are mostly dictated by the random and unexpected. Neither will equip us for the road ahead.

There is a time and a place for both ways of being. Even the I-ching recognises that there are moments in time when it is appropriate to act and others where you must sit back in the knowledge you have done all you can. It’s about knowing when to ride the waves and when to let oneself be carried by them. The problem with today’s culture is that the ‘answer’ often lies in putting the sea in a more convenient place.

It still amazes me how religiously some philosophers stick to one camp or the other. From personal experience, I would agree with Jung that in the transition to psychic wholeness, the ego becomes integrated with other parts of the psyche rather than killed off (which only creates more shadow anyway, so what’s the point?).

A healthy middle ground is achievable.

Being a self-professed Quester, I am keenly aware of the pitfalls of taking a ‘hero’s journey’ approach to life, such as taking it or myself too seriously or using it to set myself apart. If an element of ego were not present at all, then literally I would not be able to achieve the level of propulsion required to do something that goes against the grain (how much worse would my procrastination be without it!). As long as I am able to hold my hands up and admit to my mistakes, then at least for now I regard my own ego as being in a healthy balance with the rest of my psyche (there’s plenty room for improvement, believe me). This also involves knowing when it’s time to take a break, slow down and acknowledge when it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Dealing with the unknown and making things up as you go along is a lot of fun when you learn to let go of controlling the outcome.

It is only when operating from a position of protectionism and fear that the ego becomes unhealthy. For me a healthy ego is able to stand in its own power, while acknowledging and respecting the ability of others to do the same, on the understandng that all are equal in the service of the Whole. For want of a better word, this is Love.

Reality check October 2020

I KNOW, I know, to all appearances I’ve well and truly lost the plot.

Maybe so, but I sleep at night …

While on paper my prospects are looking increasingly bleak (whose aren’t these days?), I am more at peace with myself than I have ever been in my entire life. That’s because, for better or worse, I stand in my own truth, noone else’s. And I’m past caring who knows what about me.

This time last year I was on three different sleep medications. Since March (touch wood), I have slept like a baby. That’s even with the continuation of my dystonia symptoms, which started two and a half years ago and are still affecting my speech.

This time last year, I overcame what little fear of death I had. This year, I have overcome the fear of what might happen to me if I do this or do that, say this or say that. I have stopped apologising for being what people expect me to be. I am proud to be a misfit.

Among other things, I have learned to be more accepting of things as they are. I still plan ahead lke a maniac but I take things one week, not months, at a time.

It goes without saying that the course I have charted for myself is a stressful one. But it would be a damn sight worse for my mental health were I continuing to do it covertly. I have spent half a lifetime hiding and I’m done with it. Now the only reason I have to keep my cards close to my chest is for want of not giving away spoilers.

I must point out that fulfillng my life purpose does not hang on what Mr Butler does next. Now that I have got that first hurdle out of the way, that is daring to speak his name, there’s a lot I can get on with in the short term while waiting for some kind of response (without holding my breath), bearing in mind that I won’t be at liberty to discuss it in real time (or possibly ever), if or when that occurs.

I don’t need any one particular outcome to succeed. There’s any number of ways this could pan out and these are only the ones I’ve thought of. I am slowly but surely finding myself and that is what it’s all about. The journey IS the destination.

Anyway, on a therapeutic level, I must be doing something right. There’s a lot to be said for being true to yourself. To anybody still harbouring any notion that you cannot be who you were born to be AND a paid up member of society, financial constraints to one side, you really should try it some time.

Open letter to Gerry Butler II

Dear Gerry

Twenty-five years almost to the day since your mythic departure from Scotland. Twenty-five years since we parted company and my life was turned on its head in ways even you could not possibly imagine. You helped make me the person I am today, so for that you have my heartfelt gratitude.

Thing is, I really need your help. Over the past seven years, I have written a memoir that is nearly ready to publish. It’s one of those stories that has to be told and you are the inciting incident. As with any inspirational memoir, others will benefit from it, only I don’t have the resources to iron out some of the legal issues.

I am so sorry to go public with this but my circumstances dictate that I have to. In the spirit of self-healing, please will you at least read it? I have just published the first two chapters on my website at mkmacinnes.com. For what it”s worth, there’s also a trailer.

Yours in good faith
Morgan