Path of Soul

The soul's path to Self-realization, in art & archetype… by Jenna Lilla PhD

Paradox of the Tree of Death & Life

Among the various spiritual and religious traditions, the tree appears as an image of the Self. In the Katha Upanishad the roots of the tree represent “the supreme Brahman,” and … Continue reading

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Mother World: splitting, integration & evolution in the mother archetype

Recently, I have been writing on the aims and instincts of the human soul. Carl Jung speaks of the human soul’s “longing to attain rebirth through a return to the … Continue reading

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Feeding from a Sacred Tree

In the image above we see a drawing of an Egyptian king feeding from a sacred breast of a holy tree,  the ‘Lady of the Sycamore.’ The image is about 3,500 years … Continue reading

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Divine Union: creative force & origin

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung explores the dynamic relation between the masculine and feminine as an archetypal image of the sacred cohabitation of two poles of the Self. One … Continue reading

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Shiva Linga

What follows is a wonderful story from the Linga Purana which illustrates the nature Shiva Linga. The sages said, “We know that a linga is Shiva’s image. But why is … Continue reading


Goddess as Libido Symbol

  Carl Jung says that “the goddesses… are libido-symbols.” He adds: “The libido expresses itself in images of sun, light, fire, sex, fertility, and growth” (para 324). The image above … Continue reading


The Hero as Soul Image: aims and instincts

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung says that the hero myth “symbolizes the ideas, forms, and forces which grip and mold the soul.” (para. 259) The hero is an image … Continue reading

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Path of Soul

Right from the beginning of Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung address the ‘unknown’ and the ‘hidden’ (CW 5, para. 4- 5) Jung brings insight to the ‘hidden’ dimensions of being, … Continue reading

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The Gift of Love

Life energy moves through all living things. A seed sprouts, growing and becoming a tree, blossoming and bearing fruit. As long as the tree is healthy and without disease its … Continue reading

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Struggle & the Elixir of Immortality

To live is to struggle. Whether we are rich or poor, beautiful or plain, famous or more humble, we will struggle. For struggle arises from within, a struggle of the … Continue reading

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Archetypal Dialectics

I have heard many people complain about the division between spirit and matter. Often they blame Descartes. For example in Marigold’s book titled A Guiding Hand, she says: “If we hadn’t given … Continue reading

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Dreams may act in a compensatory manner to waking thought

In an essay titled General Aspects of Dream Psychology, Carl Jung asks us to consider dreams from the standpoint of finality. Finality points us to the purpose of the dream. … Continue reading

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The dialectical relationship between conscious and unconscious

One of the root ideas of Carl Jung is the transcendent function. The transcendent function is a psychic process that occurs through the dialectical relationship between the conscious and unconscious … Continue reading

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The Subject of the Unconscious

Descartes said, cogito ergo sum, “I think, therefore I am”… Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan discusses the importance of the thought process that Descartes went through to get to his conclusive statement: … Continue reading

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Carl Jung: the hermaphrodite & creative union of opposites

The above images are 15th century alchemical drawings of the Rebis Hermaphrodite from the Alchemica Collection at the John Rylands University. On the left side of the page we see … Continue reading

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Carl Jung: on the coniunctio in relationship to hermaphrodite images

A passage from the Gospel of Thomas in the Nag Hammadi Library reads:  Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like … Continue reading

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The Ego and its Projections

The process of becoming whole, and getting in touch with the sacred Self, involves coming to terms with the shadow elements of one’s personality. This is not always an easy … Continue reading

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There is a deep truth emerging from within the depths of the collective unconscious. This truth is taking the form of an idea, an idea which aims to symbolize the … Continue reading

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Self beyond self

In the Samyutta Nikaya, there is a story of a Buddhist contemplative named Vajira who speaks with Mara, the Evil One. In the story Mara, Evil, is vanquished through Vajira’s … Continue reading

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Immanence and Transcendence

Immanence can only be discovered in a dialectical relationship to transcendence. The word transcendence means “to surmount, to go beyond or to climb above”. And the concept of transcendence expresses … Continue reading

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Paradox: ‘reality’ and the sacred real

Our psychic world is made up of a myriad of ways that we attempt to symbolize our reality. Our symbolization provides meaning and context, giving shape to our emotions and … Continue reading

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Immanence as divine play

Immanence is an insight of philosophers, mystics, and sadhus alike: a realization that all of our efforts at transcendence are mere preparations for immanence. Transcendence prepares us for an immanent … Continue reading

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Nature of the Ego: Participation Mystique

One of the more subtle themes in Carl Jung’s work is a dialectical exploration of the nature of the psyche in terms of subject-object differentiation. This exploration is weaved though … Continue reading

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The Drive

Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas says that “the true life is absent”. He adds that we are all oriented “toward the elsewhere” and “the otherwise” and “the other”(1969). There is human drive … Continue reading


What is Immanence?

Immanence is a concept that can only be understood in dialectical tension with transcendence. Immanence is “the state of being within.” The word is derived from the Latin root en … Continue reading

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The Unconscious as a Liminal Realm: between eternal and temporal

Henry Corbin speaks of the heart as a sacred organ of perception in Sufi thought. The heart is an organ of theophanic perception.” That is, “of the perception through which … Continue reading

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Beyond Transcendence: the immanent turn

Throughout evolutionary history, humanity has been on the steady trajectory of transcendence. The deep root of this movement is the transcendence of the consciousness. As consciousness birthed out of its … Continue reading

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Book Review: Art from Dreams by Susan Levin

“Instincts can malfunction become defective, deficient, half-baked There should be a recipe for motherhood Exact measurement The precise amount of ingredients Or else sweets for no one” ~ Susan Levin … Continue reading

July 27, 2014 · 3 Comments

Rebirth from the Archetypal Mother: Jerusalem as sacred image

In Symbols of Transformation (CW5), Carl Jung speaks of the aims and instincts of the human soul. One of the most fundamental instincts of the human soul is a “longing … Continue reading

May 31, 2014

Priapus: personification of the creative force

Priapus is the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. Ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, who wrote between 60 and 30 BC, speaks of Priapus: “Now the ancients record in their myths that Priapos … Continue reading

March 4, 2014

Tom Thumb: personification of the creative force

According to Carl Jung, Tom Thumb is a personification of the creative force. Jung says: “We know that Tom Thumbs, dactyls, and Cabiri… are personifications of creative forces… Thus the … Continue reading

February 25, 2014

Agni: archetypal image of the creative force

In the above image we see the Hindu deity Agni and his consort Svaha.  Agni appears in his dual nature, with two heads he faces both God and man. In … Continue reading

February 17, 2014 · 5 Comments

Phanes: archetypal image of the creative force

Phanes is an ancient image of the creative force. In the chapter titled ‘The Concept of Libido’ in Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung speaks of Phanes, illustrating the archetypal nature of … Continue reading

February 11, 2014 · 2 Comments

The Realm of the Mothers

In the Introduction to the Second Section of Symbols of Transformation (SoT), Carl Jung speaks of and quotes a section of Goethe’s Faust. In the story, Faust descends to the … Continue reading

February 9, 2014 · 4 Comments

Cosmic Man

In the Introduction to the Second Section of Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung addresses the nature of ‘creative divinity’ (para 183), elucidating its various archetypal forms. One such form is … Continue reading

February 5, 2014 · 29 Comments

The mystics find ‘in their heart’ the image of the sun

In the second section of Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung is taking us into the life of the mystic: a path of soul and of divine heart. Jung speaks of … Continue reading

February 2, 2014 · 4 Comments

Creative Power of the Soul

In the second section of Symbols of Transformation, Jung takes us “into a realm of mythological ideas” (para. 176). Here Jung palpates the aims and desires of the living soul. Jung … Continue reading

January 31, 2014 · 7 Comments

Divine Child: symbol of the soul’s fulfillment

We are in deep winter: days short, nights long. Father sun seems so far away, mother earth lonely. All the creatures mourn in winter. They burrow in their little holes … Continue reading

December 25, 2013 · 14 Comments

Via Dolorosa: the soul’s spiritual riddle

Yesterday, I spoke of the soul’s capacity to create symbols of transformation. Today, on the Winter Solstice, I will write of Via Dolorosa, “the way of suffering.” Suffering is an … Continue reading

December 21, 2013 · 11 Comments

Heaven above, Heaven below: what the soul foretells

“Everything psychic has a lower and a higher meaning, as in the profound saying of late classical mysticism: ‘Heaven above, Heaven below, stars above, stars below, all that is above … Continue reading

December 20, 2013 · 7 Comments

Zombie Apocalypse: a symbol of collective transformation

Given a plethora of television shows and films about zombies, what is a Jungian to see but a collective attempt to dream the unsayable.  Carl Jung showed that what cannot … Continue reading

December 15, 2013 · 7 Comments

Ego & Soul: Two Kinds of Thinking

“Language, in its origin and essence, is simply a system of signs or symbols that denote real occurrences or their echo in the human soul.” (Carl Jung, para. 13) In … Continue reading

December 8, 2013 · 25 Comments

Reading Jung: Notes on Two Kinds of Thinking

In the last post, on Inwardness, we contemplated our fear of inner life. Writing that essay lead me to wonder if we, as a culture, are pathologizing the soul? This … Continue reading

December 2, 2013 · 27 Comments

Inwardness: the inner path in the work of Carl Jung

It has been 101 years since Carl Jung wrote Symbols of Transformation. This work is now in the US Public Domain, and available on-line for all to read freely. It … Continue reading

November 23, 2013 · 57 Comments

Religio meaning to reunite, reconnect

Carl Jung’s volume 5 titled Symbols of Transformation is one of Jung’s more difficult texts to read and understand. Many years after writing the text, Jung looked back and said: … Continue reading

November 16, 2013 · 40 Comments

Religion and the Unsayable

“This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.” -Søren Kierkegaard Through conscious awareness human beings have created a field of … Continue reading

November 4, 2013 · 16 Comments

Theo-Sophia: divine wisdom in Jung & Böhme’s work

Last week I pondered Böhme’s visions. This week I am reminded of this image from the Frontispiece of The Way to the Sabbath of Rest (1709) by Thomas Bromley. If you … Continue reading

October 10, 2013 · 5 Comments

Jakob Böhme & the three principles of the divine

Over the past couple of days I have been discussing the split within God in Jakob Böhme’s work (see here and here. In Fearful Symmetry,  (1947) Northrop Frye discusses Böhme’s work in relationship to … Continue reading

October 4, 2013 · 2 Comments

Jakob Böhme & the split within God

Yesterday I wrote a post in which I discussed Carl Jung’s comments on Böhme. Today I want to include a second image to illustrate the notion further. In this image … Continue reading

October 3, 2013 · 1 Comment

Jakob Böhme & the dynamic unity of light and dark

Jakob Böhme (1575 – 1624) was a German mystic.  He wrote several mystical treatises which influenced G.W.F. Hegel, Carl Jung, and other German thinkers. Carl Jung speaks of Böhme’s work. He says: “A historical example of the … Continue reading

October 2, 2013 · 3 Comments

Christ’s Androgyny

As I have illustrated in some of my previous posts, the hermaphrodite image appears from time to time throughout history, taking various forms. The symbols shows up in art, myths, … Continue reading

September 20, 2013 · 2 Comments

Rising Dawn: the soul in the Aurora Consurgens

A few days ago, I spoke of the hermaphrodite as the child of Hermes and Aphrodite in Ovid’s writings. Ovid wrote at the Augustan height of Roman literature. About fifteen … Continue reading

September 14, 2013 · 4 Comments

The Hermaphrodite in Ovid

In many spiritual traditions we find images of gods and goddess in union. Jung calls these unity symbols the syzygy. They are images of wholeness appearing in art, religious arcana, … Continue reading

September 9, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Quaternity in 14th Century French Art

This image is from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier by Jean Fouquet.  It is one image from Fouquet’s paintings of the book of hours. It was commissioned by king Charles VII … Continue reading

September 1, 2013 · 2 Comments

the Divine Mother as Rose

Here we see a 14th Century paining of the Madonna of the Rose. The rose is often associated with the Mother archetype. Carl Jung points out that the mother archetype … Continue reading

August 31, 2013

The Mother and the Moon

This 15th Century painting of the assumption of Mary into heaven is quite lovely. Notice that Mary rises from her tomb on a crescent moon. The moon image is also … Continue reading

August 30, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Soul’s Imagination

In Psychology and Alchemy, Carl Jung speaks of “the relationship between God and soul.” (Para. 11) Jung says: [The soul] “has the dignity of an entity endowed with consciousness of … Continue reading

August 29, 2013 · 5 Comments

Immanent Divine

“God is a psychic fact of immediate experience.“ In Carl Jung’s view, God is first and foremost a subjective experience; and religious images (archetypes) are products of the psyche, spontaneously … Continue reading

August 25, 2013 · 8 Comments


We are in an era of radical materialism in which only the material aspects of life are acknowledged.  Carl Jung says: “Under the influence of scientific materialism, everything that could … Continue reading

August 24, 2013 · 4 Comments

Carl Jung: philosophical views on spirit

Carl Jung notes that there are several philosophical perspectives on the spirit. One is of spirit in opposition to matter. The archetypal representations of immaterial spirit is ‘God’. Jung says: … Continue reading

June 30, 2013 · 2 Comments

Carl Jung: personifications of spirit

Carl Jung speaks of the archetypal personifications of spirit. He says: “As linguistic usage shows, spirit in the sense of an attitude has unmistakable leanings towards personification.” Here are some … Continue reading

June 29, 2013

Carl Jung: the wide range of representations of ‘spirit’

The concept of ‘spirit’ has deep roots in the human psyche. Carl Jung’s investigation into the nature of spirit is a complex investigation which takes us through many layers of … Continue reading

June 28, 2013 · 6 Comments

The Persian crab constellation (Cancer)

The Crab Constellation, otherwise known as Cancer. This image is by ‘Abd al Rahman ibn ‘Umar al-Sufi’. He was a Persian astronomer and published his Book of Fixed Stars in … Continue reading

June 27, 2013

The Hymn of the Soul

In Archetypes of the Collective Unconsciousness, Carl Jung speaks of the Hymn of the Soul. What follows is Jung’s words and the story as translated by G.R.S. Mead (found at … Continue reading

June 25, 2013 · 1 Comment
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This is a personal blog on the soul, not a mental health website. Nothing on this website should be construed as advice. The writing is intended for Mature Audiences only.
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