Archetypal Heart

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

— C. G. Jung

According to Egyptian mythology, upon entering the afterlife and descending to the underworld, Osiris weighed the heart of a person who recently crossed over against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth, order and righteousness. One might say that Ma’at was the goddess of “coherence.” What did ancient Wisdom Traditions know about the human heart that has somehow become lost today?

Together we explore the “individuation” process, a term coined by C. G. Jung; the journey to re-connect with your higher Self. The re-alignment of your personal ego with your higher Self (more on this throughout the platform) can be a lifelong process, and requires getting out of the intellect 24/7. You will learn the vastness of the wisdom of the heart through myth and metaphor.

Considerable research has been done in recent decades concluding that the body holds the memories of trauma events collected over one’s life time. Painful memories often get buried in the unconscious mind and the physical body holds the imprint deep within the muscles, organs, and tissues. The popular expression, “the issues are in the tissues,” succinctly summarizes the point. The “issues” may lie dormant for years if not decades unless proactively pursued through inner work, including an exploration of the unconscious mind.

Psyche releases symbolic messages through dreams, as one example, previously trapped within the body in the form of archetypal images. An archetype may be thought of as a distinct pattern of human consciousness expressed in images, forms, and symbols. The archetypes underlying dream images are universal and shared collectively among humankind, while the specific images released during a dream or flash of insight are unique to the individual. For example, a dream containing the image of an ocean has universal symbolism of the unconscious mind, yet for one person the experience may be blissful, the sun sparkling of blue-green water. For another person the ocean may be sending out increasing large waves ready to engulf them.

The trauma of a heart attack or cardiac event may trigger an intense psychological response and leave one feeling vulnerable and frightened. In this state of venerability, the egoic mind is no longer in complete control–but there is a more valuable resource that one can tap into at this time. The famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, referred to this inner resource as the Self. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yur,” to yoke, to align our finite and Infinite nature. This “yoking” is also the goal of Jung’s individuation process, who contended that “you either believe you are linked to something infinite or you don’t.” I draw this connection between yoga and Jung’s individuation process so that you may begin to see how dream tending becomes relevant to healing psyche pre and post cardiac events.

When injured, the body often releases powerful images (messages) that open the possibility of healing and transformation. The wounded heart, wounded through heart attack, stents, or clogged arteries, releases consciousness that otherwise would have remained dormant. Archetypal psychologist, James Hillman talks about the “dying consciousness” when an organ is wounded. Awareness breaks through as we are about to lose something precious.

“Each organ has a potential spark of consciousness, and afflictions release this consciousness, bringing to awareness the organ’s archetypal background [. . . ]”

— James Hillman, A Blue Fire

In other words, a life-threatening illness temporarily renders the ego powerless while the injured organ takes center stage, and life altering insights in the form of archetypal images often rise up, seemingly out of no where. A life-threatening illness forces awareness away from routine egoic processes as the wounded organ is all consuming. In an acute disease state, the patient’s outcome is typically outside his or her own egoic control. The patient cannot will health, which may be experienced as a defeat for the ego or a loss of control over one’s fate. This shift of ego consciousness becomes the threshold for the individuation process—a letting go to a higher authority within oneself in order to re-claim one’s authentic life.

Once wounded, the heart releases a spark of consciousness that has the potential for transformation.