'Edge of the Sacred: Jung, Psyche, Earth' by David Tacey (1995)





A selection from David Tacey's Edge of the Sacred: Jung, Psyche, Earth (1995).

Note: see here for a selection from Lawrence and Jung's writings on the 'New World'.



Chapter 2

The Primitive Within: Colonization in Reverse

1. Colonization in Reverse

Jung was interested in the phenomenon that is popularly called 'going native' and in more intellectual terms might be called 'colonization-in-reverse'. After several trips to North America, during which he observed the ways in which former Europeans had adapted to American conditions, he intuited that the land itself had somehow claimed its new inhabitants. The colonizers had in turn been colonized, even indigenized. This appealed to Jung's understanding of the psychological process, given that the colonizing project was the work of the heroic ego, and the opposite process, colonization-in-reverse or indigenization, was operating at an unconscious level, and was not even on the horizon of awareness.

The colonizing ego thinks that the 'New World' nation is new, that it is virgin territory, which the ego is able to conquer and control. But while the nation is new, the land itself is ancient and powerful.

There can be no more perfect example of a psyhic system at war with itself, with the ego seizing control and the ancient, underlying reality having little or no regard for the ego's designs. Eventually, the earth makes its presence felt through various cultural disturbances and psychological complications.

The society is new, and thinks of itself as in control of its own destiny, but it has to reckon with a prior and deeper claim on its life, which only gradually begins to surface from the depths of its experience. In time, the land has to be respected as having a life and will of its own, quite independent of the designs of the colonizing ego. This kind of maturity and insight is hard won, and does not come easily to a new nation ofull of its own dreams and aspirations.

2. The Psychology of Going Native in America

Jung was fascinated by the sense of conflict between ego and unconscious in new nations. [...] He wrote, 'The greatest experiment in the transplatation of a race in modern times was the colonization of the North American continent by a predominantly Germanic population' (1927/31: 94). Jung said that we could expect 'all sorts of variations of the original racial type'. How this had come about was mysterious. [...] He wrote:

    At all events the 'Yankee' type is formed, and this is so similar to the indian type that on my first visit to [upstate New York], while watching a stream of workers coming out of a factory, I remarked to my companion that I should never had thought there was such a high percentage of Indian blood. He answered, laughing, that he was willing to bet that in all these hundreds of men there would not be found a drop of Indian blood. That was many years ago when I had no notion of the mysterious indianization of the American people. (1927/31: 94)

'The remarkable thing', he went on, 'is that [no-one seems to] notice the Indian influence' (1927/31: 98).

Jung was intrigued by the early research of the American anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942), who sought to scientifically demonstrate the reality of an indigenization process [c.f. The History of the American Race, 1912]. Boas believed that anatomical changes could be found in the second generation of New York immigrants, 'chiefly in the measurements of the skull' (1927/31: 94).

3. Unconscious Primitivity

Jung noted the way in which Americans of African descent,... 'the Negro', had influenced Americans of European descent, but felt that this influence, while significant, was confined to behavior, social attitudes and cultural activities such as music, dancing, talking, partying and laughter. [...]

    Thus the American presents a strange picture: a European with Negro behavior and an Indian soul. Everywhere the virgin earth causes at least the unconscious of the conqueror to sink to the level of its indigenous inhabitants. (1930: 103)

He speaks of 'the infection of the European by the primitive' (1927/30: 97), of 'the heavy downward pull of primitive life', and he asks: 'What is more contagious than to live side by side with a rather primitive people?' (1930: 962).

Hence the 'growing down' into new lands activates ancient levels of the psyche, levels that Europeans have presumably dealt with and put to rest in their unconscious. What has been put to sleep in the European comes to new life in the American, and... this creates internal tension within the New World psyche:

    Thus, in the American, there is a discrepancy between conscious and unconscious that is not found in the European, a tension between an extremely high conscious level of culture and an unconscious primitivity. This tension forms a psychic potential which endows the American with an indomitable spirit of enterprise and an enviable enthusiasm which we in Europe do not know. (1927/31: 103)

The European in America tries to resist the process of 'going native', and hence in colonial America moral standards were often more rigidly puritanical than back home in Europe. But underneath the pietistic colonial surface, the European in new lands seeks to merge with primal nature.

The conscious aim of the westward project was to expand European civilization into the remote and wild parts of the continent, but underneath the surface there were other forces at work.

4. Germanic People and The Barbarian Within

Jung maintains that what he calls the 'Germanic population'... is more likely to fall under the sway of primal energies than their counterparts in Southern Europe. In 1918 he had said: 'This chthonic quality is found in dangerous concentration in the Germanic peoples' (1918: 18). His argument is that the Germanic northern peoples have come more 'recently' to civilization and to Christianity than have their counterparts in the south, and thus are closer to the pagan and pre-Christian barbarian.

    Christianity split the Germanic barbarian into an upper and a lower half, and enabled him, by repressing the dark side, to domesticate the brighter half and fit it for civilization. But the lower, darker half still awaits redemption and a second spell of domestication. Until then, it will remain associated with the vestiges of the pre-historic age, with the collective unconscious, which is subject to a peculiar and ever-increasing activation. As the Christian view of the world loses its authority, the more menacingly will the 'blond beast' be heard prowling about in its underground prison, ready at any moment to burst out with devastating consequences. (1918: 17)

Going Native in Africa and Australia

Chapter 3

Going Native in Islamic North Africa: Danger and Opportunity

    The past is not dead; in fact, it's not even past. -William Faulkner (1951: 36).

2. The Presence of The Past: Archetypal Memory

The psyche of the modern person has a lineage which goes back to the mists of the past, and unknowingly, we carry that lineage even as we walk in the clear light of the secular present. It is as if an invisible realm of forces and energies surrounds us, or bathes the psyche in an otherworldly glow.
...we have a memory of the entire human species, and this memory can be spontaneously activated in certain conditions. Plato's notion of memoria... comes close to Jung's understanding of the collective unconscious. In 'The Role of the Unconscious', Jung wrote:

    The unconscious is, first and foremost, the world of the past, which is activated by the one-sidedness of the conscious attitude. (1918:20)

    We laugh at primitive superstitions, thinking ourselves superior, but we completely forget that we are influenced in just as uncanny a fashion as the primitive by this background, which we are wont to scoff at as a museum of stupidities. (1918: 14)

3. Wrestling With The Dark Angel

Despite its aggressive approach... the shadow of the Self is the herald of the image of psychic totality. As such, it is rightly regarded as a sacred figure... .

The fateful encounter with the archaic psyche, which Jung calls 'going black under the skin' (1963: 274) is at once a psychological crisis and a spiritual opportunity.

Chapter 4

Towards the Dreaming Place: A Memoir

I was born in Melbourne, a huge European-style city on the coastal fringe of Australia, but my family and I left Melbourne... to 'emigrate' (or so it felt) to the central desert. It was a movement from edge to center, and later, when I wanted to attend universities... I had to leave the center and return to the 'edge'. The notion of moving from edge to center has occupied my imagination... , ...dreams play on this metaphorical movement, privileging the center to the edge, as if life in the depths is being contrasted to life on the surface.

The move brought geographical displacement: it was to move from the green world of south-eastern Australia to the red world of the center.

Probably the most dramatic change of all was to live in the presence of Aboriginal people, whom I had never seen before. Melbourne was like a large slice of Europe which had been transplanted to the southern hemisphere, and the indigenous Australians were nowhere to be seen.

The coastal fringe represented safety, the known, the civilized parts, and the interior... barren, scary, unknown. [...] The center was variously called the Dead Center, the Empty Center, the Desert Heart. As James McAuley put it, the outback was regarded as 'A futile heart within a fair periphery' (1938: 65), and A.D. Hope mythologized the continent as 'A woman beyond her change of life, a breast/ Still tender but within the womb is dry' (1939: 13). Moving from edge to center was a movement from life to near-death, from richness to poverty, from society to solitude. It was to enter what Patrick White called the 'Great Australian Emptiness.'

2. Homecoming to The Otherworld

I felt like an alien, yet a more ancient part of me resonated with the place.
It was odd to feel this sense of homecoming in the strangest of places. [...] But it felt as if I had entered the country of the spirit, so alien to my conscious ego, yet well known to my heart. [...] One is dislodged in one's settled egohood, only to come home to a different place in the personality. This new place is a forgotten, lost, or never-realized part of the psyche... . One feels a sense of recollection, as if one has been here before.

3. The Healing Place.

...two agents worked on my soul to release me at times from the Western condition: the spirit of the land and the spirit of the Aboriginal people. This was subtle at first, and I had not even realized that I was partly 'going native' or 'going black', terms that were often used in a derogatory sense. Mostly going native referred to drunks in the park or derelicts who could not hold down a job. [...] The Aboriginal people of the town were the first ones to notice this change in my nature. Several told me that they had noticed I had an 'Aboriginal soul' and that I had 'begun to think like a blackfella'.

4. Walking Through the Soul of the World

To think like a blackfella meant to think in vast terms, across eons of time and space. It meant being able to experience the land as alive, as a living subject, instead of the typical Western habit of experiencing the land as a dead object. It was to experience the soul as vast and wide... . Rather than the soul being inside us, the indigenous view was that we were inside the soul. [...] It appealed to me to think of the whole world as ensouled, and I had not yet been conditioned by a university education that would argue otherwise.
It was odd to notice that people such as myself were referred to as 'Europeans' by the indigenous people. I had seen myself as 'Australian' before moving to Alice Springs, but now I was not so sure. [...] In that part of the world, no-one was classified as 'Australian'. It seemed like an identity that had not yet come into being. ...no-one can be an Australian before they have come to terms with the indigenous spirit of this place. For the time being, 'Europeans' is probably the best term, and a subtle ploy on the part of Aboriginal people, a way of keeping white people in their place.

We Europeans are ego-centric and appear to have been that way for hundreds of years. [...] We regard Aboriginal people as 'primitive' because they are not full of the demonic energy of progress of development. [...] I must have had some 'Aboriginal' element in me, because as soon as I came into contact with this culture, it made enormous sense to me.
Perhaps this resonance with land is from my Celtic background, because not too long ago, my Celtic ancestors experienced a similar rapport with the environment to that experienced by Aboriginal people. [...] ...without it we inhabit a spiritual wasteland and feel ourselves to be empty and lost. [...] We all had this spiritual sense once, and I was determined to recover it for my own life.
But I did not, and could not, take on the Aboriginal cosmology as my own.

5. The Mystical Body of the Earth Mother

But it was the Aboriginal Dreaming that inspired me to find some answering image within myself.

But there were so few people with whom one could discuss these matters. The township of Alice Springs seemed full of hyper-masculine men who could only drink beer, grunt and fart. Only artists and eccentrics seemed to know the subtle psychological terrain. And if [they] were male, they were dismissed as 'poofters'. This was, after all, the homophobic town that provided the memorable setting for the gay classic Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

It was the earth mother and her stony landscape which broke the encasement of my rational ego and which drew me into a larger sense of identity... . Naturally the vast expanse and sheer weight of all this rock terrified me at times, and one can sometimes feel crushed by it.

Les Murray has said that the sheer space and size of this country is 'one of the great, poorly explored spiritual resources of Australia'... . Randolph Stow has pointed out that 'when one is alone with [the country], one feels in one way very small, in another gigantic'. The ego is dwarfed and made to feel small and puny, but the soul leaps out of its human encasement and ecstatically unites with the greater world. [...] The sense that the landscape, with its plains, chasms and ranges, pointed to an otherworld is expressed well by the novelist Martin Boyd:

There is no country where it is easier to imagine some lost pattern of life, a mythology of vanished gods, that this most ancient of lands. (1952: 16)

6. Racism and The Fear of Going Native

For many Euro-Australians, this feeling of being puny in the vast desert landscape is overwhelming and makes us feel threatened. Many of the white I grew up with were passionate racists. Retrospectively, I can see that their racism was a futile defense against the sheer power of the spirit of place. In the outback there is an almost South African sense of siege. ...the very landscape... tells the white man that he is an intruder and that his European culture and expectations are out of place.
Urban Australians... do not understand the psychic pressures exerted upon white people in the outback. The 'redneck'... is not the result of a conscious decision to hate a different people but is an automatic and unconscious cultural defense against the power of the other. It is what Adler would call a 'masculine protest' against our sense of insignificance (1912). Racism is... comprehensible in this context, and any attempt... to eradicate it must deal with the psychodynamic forces that generate it.

...if the ego contracts and hardens against the infinity of the desert... the greater reality is shut off. [...] ...it is difficult to submit to a transformative mental process when our culture has neither the language nor the practical wisdom to understand this process.

7. Towards the Center

It seems that for my dream life, Alice Springs and its environs has become a geographical symbol of the Jungian Self. [...] The Self is said by Jung to be the center of the psyche, the archetype that gathers the conflicting opposites of psychic life into a working relationship. Alice Springs, as the center of the continent, brings white and black cultures into a creative, and at times tense, relationship.

For central Australians, the chief natural symbol is Uluru, referred to locally as 'the Rock'. It is the largest free-standing monolith in the world. [...] All look to the Rock as if to the center of the world,... a veritable axis mundi on the horizon.

Now, living again in Melbourne, back at the edge, I continually dream of the center.

8. The Center is Everywhere

Whenever I dream of the center it means that I am too much at the 'edge' or on the surface of my experience. There is a need for a deepening, for finding a central core.

9. Going Native, To Some Extent

'Going black under the skin is a spiritual peril which threatens the uprooted European in Africa to an extent not fully appreciated' (1963: 274).

...the kind of ego that arrived here from Britain was not the kind that could withstand a creative contact with the place. Lawrence had made that point clear in his Kangaroo (see Chapter 7). The colonizing ego, heroic, rational, secular, progressive, humanist, patriarchal, would have to be sacrificed before an Australian individuation could take place.

The Psyche Down Below

Chapter 5

Descent into the Unconscious

1. The Disturbed Ecology of The Psyche

Australian society... can be illuminated by viewing it as a migrant society which is still involved in the ongoing psychodynamic problems wrought by migration. As the Grinbergs have eloquently written, 'Migration is such a long process that perhaps it never really ends' (1984: 74).

2. The Fortunate Fall: Down to Earth and Democratic

In all colonial societies there is a counter-response to this lowering of consciousness. Frontier societies are typically inflexible and puritanical bastions of moral culture. There is a strong conservative element that defends the values of the old country against those of the new. Very often, however, the colonial culture is far more reactionary, oppressive, and dictatorial that the conservative element in the parent culture. [...] The new moralism is worse that the old, insofar as it is established in reaction to the powerful activation of the primordial unconscious. The stronger the upsurge of instinct in colonial consciousness, the more severe is the resistance erected to defeat it. This new puritanism will appear quite bizarre, almost a mock-parody of conservatism and, as such, it loses credibility in the eyes of many people.

It was especially apt that the emancipated convict should personify and carry the new set of values. The shadow is very much the prisoner of consciousness, mistreated and abused by the superego, and pushed into the dungeons of the unconscious, into British prisons, hulls of ships and expelled to Australia.

'Integration of the shadow is an emigration. Not him to us we to him. His incursion is barbarism, our descent is culture' (1975: 225). Even the geographical journey to Australia from Britain, the fact that it involved a descent to the Deep South, to 'Down Under', adds to the metaphor that in founding Australian society Britain unwittingly initiated an undoing of its own consciousness and a development of its imprisoned shadow (Hughes 1987).
Australia is in a number of ways the scorned or reviled offspring of the parent culture, thus explaining the inferiority that Australia has suffered throughout its history, but also explaining the boastful arrogance of nationalist Australians. [...] We were the children of darkness who were archetypally charged with the mission of bringing a new light into the world... .

3. The Not-So-Fortunate Fall: Despair, Violence and Oedipal Rage

In Lawson there is a perception that Australian society is perched on the edge of an abyss. This abyss is projected upon the land, which is experienced as threatening, a malign force which would destroy its Euro-Australian inhabitants.
This is the disintegrative aspect of the archetypal descent expressed as a negative 'spirit of place' or disturbing quality of the landscape.

...he [Lawson] has most often been celebrated for only one part of his achievement: for his recognition of the social progress of the Australian people. But his perception that we have at the same time fallen into a spiritual depression, that we lack purpose other than the cheery workaday purpose of social democracy, has not been noticed, or only grudgingly. [...] He is too often read, especially in our school system, with no regard for the existential doubt and gloom which can be found even in his lightest sketches.

Lawson's contemporary, Barbara Baynton, paints a bleak and sometimes demonic picture of Australian society. Hers is a human world that has fallen to a level below that of the animal. Dogs, sheep and cattle show signs of faithfulness and moments of warm affection, but not so the human figures who are found in her Bush Studies (1902). They are crude, raw and impulse-driven creatures capable of appalling... violence. Baynton's Australia shows the incursion of, or descent to, the shadow as barbarism. Her portrait... ought to be regarded not as social realism but as psychological realism, as fiction which expresses what lies below the social veneer.

5. The Australian Masculinist Character as National Defense

Australian consciousness... has constructed itself as masculine. But the masculinity is exaggerated, a kind of parody of masculinity.... . Australian men develop a sort of focred or extreme masculinity, and this serves to mask their sense of weakness and vulnerability (Colling 1992). [...] The typical Australian male, whether we talk about the bushman, the battler, the larrikin, or suburban ocker, understands masculinity as machismo and thinks that 'being masculine' means being tough, forceful and aggressively defensive (Tacey 1997). It is a forced style, one which desires to prove itself in rituals of combat and battle.

Australia became a so-called 'real man's' country, and women were forced to adopt defensive strategies and a 'tough' consciousness.

In a sense, neither true femininity nor masculinity was experienced because what was in the ascendant was an exaggerated masculinity. The experience of complex masculinity and femininity was eclipsed by... a siege mentality. A pioneer society defends not only against the assault of the elements, famine, flood, heat, drought, fire and natives, but against the unconscious forces that it has unleashed. The defensive habit has much in common with what Adler called 'the masculine protest' (1912), an exaggerated attitude of strength adopted by a vulnerable part of the psyche to ensure its survival.

The confidence and self-satisfaction that the nationalist ego and its 'bush culture' espouse is a fool's paradise which is undermined from within by all that is repressed and denied.
As Freud... discovered, the defensive personality thrives on projective paranoia and dissociative strategies to force outside the self the disruptive elements which attack it from within.

6. The Psychological Uses of Landscape

The landscape can act, as in Henry Lawson, as a field for negative projections, where the land becomes constructed as an 'Outback Hell' against which the enfeebled ego must defend itself.

The conflict between utopian and dystopian images of landscape came to an interesting climax in the Bulletin literary debate or verse-argument bewteen Paterson and Lawson in 1892-93. Lawson started the debate with 'Up the Country', a refutation of Paterson's Arcadian Australia and targeted against the idyllic world of 'Clancy of the Overflow'. Paterson countered with 'In Defence of the Bush', Lawson rejoined with 'The City Bushman', where he argued that the romantic image of the Bush was a product of the city, invented by those who do not venture into the Outback and who are unaware of its real nature. 'We wish to Heaven', Lawson wrote in 'Some Popular Australian Mistakes' (1893), 'that Australian writers would leave off trying to make a praradise out of the Out Back Hell; if only out of consideration for... the lost souls [who live] there (1893: 130).

Chapter 6

The Need for Sacrifice

2. The Gap Between Society and Nature

There is a chasm between society and nature-- a chasm which can be conceptualized as a psychological gap between consciousness and the unconscious. White consciousness is defensive and heavily armored: the landscape is seen as threatening and malign, and the job of heroic society has been to deny the strangeness of the place and to pretend that we are actually in Britain.
In Australian experience the landscape is coterminous with the unconscious: it is vast, ancient, mythological and wholly other. We have denied the true spirit of the land, and its indigenous inhabitants, for two hundred years of white settlement, and now the repressed is coming back to haunt us. We are not merely caught up in what is popularly dismissed as white-guilt. The Western ego senses that it is not authentic, and its former pretence at belonging is no longer adequate.

We are slowly dissolving into landscape, but it is a necessary dissolution that ought not to be resisted or willed away by resorting to the heroics of the past. We are experiencing... a regression for the sake of advancement.
When the personality is spurious or false, the unconscious will often present itself as a devouring maw which undermines, threatens and endangers consciousness. [...] What took place in Australian culture was the reverse of English Romanticism: the Earth Mother did not care for her children in gentle Wordsworthian fashion, rather the Terrible Mother impressed herself on us and scared the colonial society.

...a genuine relationship with nature and earth must be forged. This is the challenge confronting Australian society. Living behind masculinist barriers and rational defenses is only a half-life. Anyway... we will be forced sooner or later into a new encounter with the unconscious. [...] ...our particular kind of masculinist-defensive spirit will have to be sacrificed to nature. Perhaps only then a new kind of human spirit, more connected with this country and not imposed on it by a colonialist order, will emerge from the death of the old.

'The country existed in spite of the town. It was not aware of it. There was no connecting link'. White compared Australian society with 'an ugly scab on the body of the earth'. 'It was so ephemeral. Some day it would drop off, leaving a pink, clean place underneath' (White 1939: 28).

    And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
    Each drains her, a vast parasite robber-state
    Where second-hand Europeans pullulate
    Timidly on the edge of alien shores. (Hope 1939: 13)

3. The Problem of Unconscious and Involuntary Sacrifice

To be suspended above the ground invites disaster and ruin. An unsupported social structure is forever precarious, and in our literature we find images of society poised over a dreadful abyss. The opening image of Richardson's ironically titled Australia Felix is of a digger on the Victorian goldfields falling headlong to his death in a deep gravel pit:

    The digger fell forward on his face... nose and mouth pressed into the sticky mud as into a mask; and over his defenceless body, with a roar that burst his ear-drums, broke stupendous masses of earth  (1917: 7)

This digger's experience symbolizes what could be a modern Australian symbolic rite... .

If Australians do not build a connection between mind and earth in life, a connection will be forced upon them destructively, in death.

Judith Write... in the essay, 'The Upside-down Hut',... wrote:

    Are all these dead men in our literature, then, a kind of ritual sacrifice? And just what is being sacrificed? Is it perhaps the European consciousness-- dominating, puritanical, analytical... , that Lawrence saw as negated by this landscape? ... Reconcilliation, then, is a matter of death-- the death of the European mind, its absorption into the soil it has struggled against. (1961: 335)

The problem is that all this takes place unconsciously. Australian society, so rational, busy, committedly secular, knows little about the sacramental process taking place within its depths. [...] We refuse to sacrifice something of ourselves knowingly to the land, but the sacrifices take place anyway, whether or not we are aware of them. Our ritual offerings are involuntarily, as if in a trance or dream.

Jungian psychology would argue that the ruling consciousness, sometimes personified by a kind or ruler, has become separated from an instinctual, archetypal source, which has grown 'monstrous' through neglect and repression. This neglected element draws psychic energy to itself, threatening the stability and economy of consciousness.

4. Earth-Sacrifice in Popular Culture

A chilling example of our unconscious compulsion to sacrifice is the well-known folktale Picnic at Hanging Rock. Joan Lindsay's novel by the same name (1967), and the... film by Peter Weir (1975), depicts the uncanny and awful earth-sacrifice of beautiful young women at the archaic monument which is Hanging Rock. This rocky formation is north of the city of Melbourne, and its features are peculiarly awesome. [...] The rock, we are told, erupted from the earth's interior millions of years ago. One of the schoolgirls, Irma, says in a trance-like voice: 'It has been waiting a million years, just for us.'
Irma is under its spell even before she encounters it. [...] The dominant impression of the so-called picnic is one of trance-like unconscious ritual, or acting as if caught in a dream.

The schoolgirls of Appleyard College are led to their destruction on the face of the rock because their human society is asleep. It is a sacrifice to the monster at the outskirts of the big city. It is a giving way to the voracious appetite of the demonic earth.
But it is all performed as if a 'strange tale' of folklore or legend, without understanding its psychology, without grasping its meaning for us today. We just do not know how real and actual this 'strange tale' is. [...] We don't have the symbolic awareness to properly integrate it, because as a secular and humanistic society, we do not possess a talent for the sacred. We do not understand the meaning of sacrifice. Nor did Lindsay herself seem to understand the symbolic meaning of her own tale... . We are all caught up in a mythic situation which is too difficult for us to see. We describe it but do not interpret it.
In recent history and popular culture, we find the same theme of sacrifice in the tragic case of Azaria Chamberlain (1980)... , narrated in a story by John Bryson (1985) and portrayed in the Fred Schepisi film Evil Angels (1988). While the Chamberlain family camped at Uluru or Ayers Rock, baby Azaria, only a few weeks old, was seized at night by a dingo and dragged to her death. The raw, elemental and archetypal nature of this incident immediately gripped the nation. [...] As in Picnic, the event takes place at an iconic and mysterious earth-monument, Uluru... .

The cultural need to offer an earth-sacrifice was strongly activated by this incident. [...] Rumours flash across the country and in newspapers that the name Azaria means 'sacrifice in the wilderness'. There are further rumors of devil worshippers and ritual murderers in central Australia and Queensland, and the Chamberlains are said to belong to this occult group. But it is the mother, Lindy, who becomes the carrier of the image of the death-dealing maternal earth, the womb-matrix which devours its offspring. [...] Even a court of law finds her guilty on almost no real evidence. [...] In other words, the country was so gripped by the archetype of sacrifice that it could not think straight.
These events can be viewed as a national psychosis. [...] Lindy Chamberlain was victimized, jailed, and martyred by an egalitarian, fair-minded, secular Australia, because society cannot attend to its own sacred imperatives, cannot atone for its distance from the earth and the other. We must find scapegoats because we cannot do our inner work.

5. An Inconvenient Truth: Insights from Judith Wright

We do not require literal killings or Aztec-like human sacrifices, but a letting of psychic blood, an offering of some inner part of ourselves to place. A dialogue is needed, with the land and the Aboriginal people... . A conquering people... are not good at initiating dialogue.
Judith Wright was one of the first to explore this complex problem. She noted that conquerors expect everything to go their way... .

    The blue crane fishing in Cooloolah's twilight
    has fished there longer than our centuries.
    He is the certain heir of lake and evening,
    and he will wear their colour till he dies;

    but I'm a stranger, come of a conquering people.
    I cannot share his calm, who watched his lake,
    being unloved by all my eyes delight in
    and made uneasy, for an old murder's sake.

    Those dark-skinned people who once named Cooloolah
    knew that no land is lost or won by wars
    for earth is spirit; the invader's feet will tangle
    in nets there and his blood be thinned by fears. (1955: 83)

Conquerors of new lands are conquered by the land... . The natural world within and without seems to turn against them. Their acts of hubris constellate the same consequences that hubris in ancient classic drama brought: the vengeance of nature and the perishing of the soul. Conquerors of land can find no ultimate solace or fulfillment, no deep satisfaction, if they do not embrace the spirit of place, allowing them to connect spiritually, organically, to the world around them. We cannot live a full life shut up inside the sterile, rational confines of the ego. Sooner or later, we must break out of this cocoon and risk the encounter with nature.

Some commentators have said that nature in Australia is inherently harsh, and cannot offer any expected romantic experiences. 'In Australian writing Nature endures, rather than protects or nourishes' (Taylor 1987: 35). [Wright] understands that, after allowing ourselves to lose our vital connection with nature, we have made nature appear indifferent or even malign.

Wright is showing the spiritual legacy of a conquering society... .

It is important to realize that the nationalist temperament governed Wright's early work, when her aim was to affirm and celebrate the supposed oneness with the land that the early pioneers and settlers had achieved for future generations.

But by the time we get to 'Eroded Hills' (1946b: 9) and 'At Cooloolah' (1955) Wright's landscape is different. [...] The nationalist myth of the pioneering pact with the land has given way to a contemporary perception of alienation and rootlessness.
Judith Wright's career models the crucial changes that Australian culture will have to undergo. [...] Nationalists accuse Wright of becoming anti-Australian, whereas she has really moved with the currents of the psyche itself, shifting to a more profound, if less flattering psychocultural position.

6. The Art of Sacrifice

The contemporary unsettlement of Australia, often dismissed as a white 'guilt trip' or trivialized as an identity crisis, is a way of connecting with the elemental dimension which has been maligned, repressed and kept 'out of mind'.

If the Western ego can achieve some degree of humility toward the cosmic forces, it finds its proper place in the order of things. If it does not honor the need for sacrifice, the sacrificial impulse becomes compulsive and unconscious, whence it enacts a terrible toll.

Chapter 7

On Not Crossing the Gap

1. Inauthentic Culture

[D.H. Lawrence] was wryly amused, when he visited here in the 1920s, by the contrast between the confidently secular, busy, yet spiritually hollow people and the still, silent, yet spiritually powerful landscape. He felt that Australian society was unreal, that it was not an organic thing but it hung as it were in mid-air, above the earth:

    There was the vast town of Sydney. And it didn't seem to be real, it seemed to be sprinkled on the surface of a darkness into which it never penetrated. (1923c: 8)

Lawrence's theme in all his writings, regardless of their setting, is the rootlessness and alienation of modern humanity. For Lawrence, humanity had attempted, in its intellectual arrogance, to cut itself off from nature and instincts. [...] Lawrence seized on the evident discontinuity between Australian society and landscape to add further dimension to his universal theme.

2. The Need For Nourishment From Below

To Lawrence, Australian society seemed like an uninspired imitation of life lived elsewhere:

    Even the heart of Sydney itself-- an imitation of London and New York-- without any core or pith of meaning.

    The absence of any inner meaning: and at the same time the great sense of vacant space. (1923c: 24)

4. A Disintegrative Otherness

Lawrence responded with ambivalence to the spiritual otherness of Australia. On the one hand he found it exhilarating, exotic, primeval, but on the other hand he found it threatening and overwhelmingly 'other'.

    And the vast, uninhabited land frightened him. It seemed so hoary and lost, so unapproachable. (1923c: 8)

Lawrence describes a moment of terror in the Western Australian landscape, which causes him to flee from those environs in a state of panic.

    He... walked a mile or so into the bush, and had just come to a clump of tall, nude, dead trees, shining almost phosphorescent with the moon, when the terror of the bush overcame him... . There was something among the trees, and his hair began to stir with terror, on his head. There was a presence. (1923c: 9)

Australian literature has many examples of the fate of those 'poor wretched souls', as Lawson calls them, who fall into the gap and become psychically overwhelmed by the place ['bush madness']. [...] They suffer such an onslaught from the unconscious that the over-civilized and inorganic European consciousness is disintegrated.
European consciousness has not... been exposed to such archaic levels for some time.

...the archaic spirit of the continent... can act, not only as a force of disintegration, but as A.D. Hope knew, as a... spirit which is capable of bringing psychical rebirth and regeneration. [...] It is Australia, not Britain, which will give rise to a future profound awakening of the indwelling spirit. Lawrence knew this, and although he felt 'glad to have glimpsed it' (1922: 2550) he did not feel mentally or physically strong enough to participate in it.

5. To Sacrifice or Be Sacrificed: The Australian Dilemma

Lawrence knew that a rapprochement with the spirit of place would necessitate real sacrifice:

    'It always seems to me', said Somers, 'that somebody will have to water Australia with their blood before it's a real man's country. The soil, the very plants seem to be waiting for it.' (1923c: 82)

He is speaking metaphorically, poetically and mythologically about the sacrifice that is required before contact with the spirit of place is possible. [...] Encountering the spirit of place is at once an encounter with our lower depths. It necessitates a descent or nekyia into the psychic underworld to find there the... primordial wellspring which can meet the genius of this country and heal the dissociation between society and nature.
From this perspective, the sacrifice required of Australians is the sacrifice of their attachment to what Lawrence calls 'cerebral' or 'mental consciousness' (1923a). The contact with the depths requires a certain... loosening of the tie to the rational mind.

Lawrence chose not to conduct his descent here, but opted for New and Old Mexico, and parts of Europe, to be the locus of his psychic journeying.

    What was the good of trying to be an alert conscious man here? You couldn't. Drift, drift into a sort of obscurity, backwards into a nameless past, hoary as the country is hoary. Strange old feelings wake in the soul: old, non-human feelings. And an old, old indifference, like a torpor, invades the spirit.

    Would the people waken this ancient land, or would the land put them to sleep, drift them back into the torpid semi-consciousness of the world of the twilight. (1923c: 198)

6. Bailing Out: Too Great a Challenge

In Kangaroo Richard Somers felt the great Australian earth drawing him toward it with almost magnetic power. And he is, like Lawrence, at odds with himself. Intellectually he wants to 'give in' to Australia, but emotionally he feels unable to make the descent that is required. Hence he is plagued by negative and morbid symptoms: 'he felt the torpor coming over him' (1923c: 168), he thinks his mind is 'melting away' (375), that he is being Australianized 'in his sleep' (159). Somers puts his contrary feelings and impulses to his Welsh friend Jaz:

    'I love it, Jaz. I don't love the people. But this place-- it goes into my marrow, and makes me feel drunk. I love Australia... . [It] tempts me... [but] I don't want to give in to the place. It's too strong. It would lure me quite away from myself... . (389)

    I love Australia: its weird, far-away natural beauty and its remote, almost coal-age pristine quality. Only it's too far for me. I can't reach so awfully far. Further than Egypt. I feel I slither on the edge of a gulf... . It eludes me, and always would. It is too far back... strains my heart, reaching. But I am very glad to have glimpsed it. (1922: 2550)

At the end of Kangaroo, Somers-Lawrence wistfully hears the call of Australia and wonders when it will be answered:

    From far off,... there seemed to be the voice of Australia, calling low... . [He] knew [it] would go on calling for long ages before it got any adequate response, in human beings. (1923c: 383)

Spiritual Renewal

Chapter 8

Relaxing Barriers, Admitting the Other

    The numinous presents itself as something 'wholly other' (ganz andere), something basically and totally different. -- Mircea Eliade (1959: 9)

The other is complex, awesome, subtle, many-sided and must be entered into relationship with. All that is required at the outset... is a healthy respect for the other. With that new respect, the necessary sacrifice of the ego's dominion has begun and transformation can occur.

2. Postmodern Landscape: The Self as Other

I is an other. -- Arthur Rimbaud (1873: 305)

Otherness has hit us with enormous force. We are awash in the sea of otherness, and that is the best definition I know for the postmodern condition.

The unconscious has erupted from the depths and makes unprecedented claims on reality, so that the fantastic and the real are now difficult to separate.

The postmodern condition is not a mere invention of intellectuals. It is an important cultural shift in which the once-solid world has dissolved in the ambiguity of otherness. I am not sure how 'post'-modern this is, because expressionist and abstract artists a hundred years ago were dissolving solidity and form, creating new perceptions of the world and new syntheses of fact and fiction.

7. Social Embarrassment and Spiritual Hunger

Because the spirit is 'foreign' territory to us, and we are almost of the mind that it is unAustralian, our attempts to come to terms with this realm will be plagued by a sense of social embarrassment and awkwardness.

...we have been taught for generations that interiority of any kind is an indulgence and self-reflection is narcissism. [...] Australians have been instructed, like children harangued by an overzealous authority, to get on with the job, to cheer up, stop brooding; don't be morbid, don't be lazy. All our frequently used social phrases and domestic cliches betray our fear of the psychic depths.

9. Spiritual Keynotes: Experience and Ecology

The soul demands a symbolic life, and when the official culture fails to encourage this, the soul will find covert, pathological and untutored forms of expression. [...] When there is no religious structure which meets the needs of the community, one can expect social disruption until the culture has been reorganized around these needs.

10. The New Experience of Aboriginality: From Shadow To Shaman

Euro-Australians cannot simply graft onto their souls a fifty thousand-year-old Dreaming stolen from another tradition. Such stolen property would not take root in the white soul, and may inhibit or block a developmental process already taking place.

What is needed is a spiritual revolution in Australian consciousness. We cannot tack on Aboriginal spirituality to our rational consciousness, but must change our consciousness from within by burrowing down into our feared and walled-up unconscious to find an answering image to Aboriginal spirituality. The direction we need to take is downward, into the depths... . [...] Jung wrote that 'People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls' (1944: 126). It is easier, he said, to take on the spirituality of a foreign culture, to wrap our nakedness in the trappings of an exotic cosmology, than to face the poverty of our souls and begin a dialogue with the inner life. We will have to risk an encounter with the other within ourselves, whatever the cost to our rationality and whatever the impact upon consciousness.

Chapter 9

Entering the Dream of Nature

2. The Necessity of Re-Enchantment

How can the new bond be forged? I have doubts about the effectiveness of progressive governments and ecology groups telling people to care more about the environment. [...] The ecological crisis is at bottom a psychological and spiritual crisis. These deeper roots to the problem will have to be explored if there is to be any lasting change (Bishop 1990).

The ecological task is not only to repair our damage in the outer world, but to repair the split on the inside... .

We will have to make some kind of return to the past to reanimate the world and ourselves. But we will need to recover the old primal vision in an entirely new way.
D.H. Lawrence put it best when he said that we need to make a 'detour' back to the primal state to revitalize and invigorate civilization:

    We must make a great swerve in our onward-going life-course now, to gather up again the savage mysterious. (1923b: 144)

    But this does not mean going back on ourselves. We can't go back (1923b: 146)

3. James Hillman: The Return of Animation to The World

Not only has the natural world been deprived of its sacred heart, but we too have been deprived of the worldly dimension of our souls. As a consequence, we inhabit a prison of our making, and 'the psyche is too narrowly identified with the ego personality'.

In Anima Mundi: The Return of the Soul to the World (1982), Hillman puts forward a challenge to all schools of psychoanalysis, arguing that if therapy neglects the soul of the world and concentrates only on soul in the individual, it is contributing to the sum total of neurosis.

'Man exists in the midst of psyche; it is not the other way around. Therefore, soul is not confined by man, and there is much of psyche that extends beyond the nature of man' (1975: 173). [...] Hillman extraverts our sense of interiority, so that it becomes a property of the world, just as he extraverts the notion of anima (in Jungian terms, the soul in man), so that it becomes anima mundi.

7. Les Murray: Dreaming Silence

The old heroic manner of pitting oneself against the natural world will have to give way to a new receptivity and openness to the mystery of place. This will involve a certain... humility on the part of the personality, as well as a readiness to accept mystery and revelation from the land… .
[…]
Murray has grasped one of the central paradoxes of Australian experience: that what seems a defeat for the ego can be a liberation and release for the soul. [...] Suddenly, after two centuries of huddling and defensiveness, we stand in the presence of mystery, and witness the enigma of a land that seems to be 'waiting here for something beyond imagination'.
[…]
…Murray indicates that we too will become ensconced in a similar ‘dreaming’ [i.e., as the aboriginal ‘dreamtime’].

I hope to show you something less simple about the country we are in, something outside the categories you know… . I plan to stand by and wait until this land, which is so near you and so unseen, enters your heart too.
Rodney Hall, 1991.

Chapter 10 Holy Ground and Creation Spirituality

‘Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.’ Exodus 3: 5

1. The Puzzling Nature of Australian Spirituality

In Across the Great Divide, David Ranson argues that the main activity of spirituality in Australia is implicit, it is enshrouded in silence and a reverential quietness, and we should not expect it to be too articulate when it leads this sort of underground life (Ranson 2002). He says that to make the implicit spirituality of Australia explicit runs the risk of falsifying or distorting our experience.
[…]
A colleague of mine once said that ‘Australian spirituality’ is a contradiction in terms, an ‘oxymoron’, since ‘Australia stands for what is rational, practical and commonsensical’. […] Studies of our art and literature abound with definitions such as this, including the suggestion that religion finds its nemesis in Australia… (Phillips 1966).

3. Personal and Public Domains

…increasingly, the spiritual and the religious are separating categories of experience. This has left a gap in society, where ‘spirituality’ has no support or belonging.

5. Towards a Creation Spirituality

The task for Australians today is to ground our spirituality in place and earth. This is especially urgent, because the ecological crisis has forced us to see that we need to bring sacred awareness to the earth, which has been desacralized and profaned for too long. […] This patent failure of secular humanism must be compensated by a strong earth-based approach emerging from our increased sense of cosmic sacrality.
[…]
A genuinely post-colonial spirituality in Australia would have to come to terms with place, and find its roots in our soil, in our experience of lived reality. […] …’God in Australia is a vast blue and pale-gold and red-brown landscape’ (Les Murray, 1982)… .

6. Earth Worship and Panentheism

…one could almost say that the resacralization of nature is the prime foundation on which any ecological program should be based. I do not believe that an ecology without depth, without a spiritual dimension, can ever be effective in bringing about the revolution of attitude that we require. Secular governments plead with us to be more respectful to the earth, but such pleading is in vain unless we can feel that the earth is sacred.

9. Resacralization of Land and Place

May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful… . May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien. (Genesis 28: 4)

This is a significant statement, especially from an Australian point of view. Entering into a binding covenant with the sacred enables Jacob to transcend his condition as an ‘alien’ in his own land. […] …in finding a connection with the sacred, which is what religio means, we no longer feel alienated or out of touch with the places in which we live.
The Genesis story develops this theme in a powerful way. After his father’s blessing, secured by an act of treachery toward his brother, Jacob flees from the wrath of Esau and goes to the land of Haran. It was on his way to Haran that Jacob rested for the night and had his famous dream.

Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land’. (Genesis 28: 11-15).

…it is only when we have established a dynamic connection with the sacred that we enter into the vitality of our earthly inheritance and bodily reality. It is only when the ‘vertical’ connection with God is forged, symbolized here by the stairway to heaven, that our ‘horizontal’ connection with place is realized and our link with home and natural environment is established. We come home to ourselves and to our land when we come home to the sacred.
[…]
…after receiving the vision of the ladder, Jacob immediately notices the sanctity of his place:

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it’. Jacob was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven’. Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. (Genesis 28: 16-19)

[…] Jacob awakens from his sleep, in which he is shown the vertical connection to heaven, and realizes that the horizontal dimension around him is holy. […] We glimpse the visionary prospect of a world made holy through a sanctifying presence. That presence was always there, but we did not know it before, and it had to be made known through an act of revelation.

10. The South Land of The Holy Spirit

Perhaps we should take a cue from the Spanish Catholic explorer, Captain Pedro de Quiros, who in 1606 named this as yet undiscovered land Australia del Espiritu Santo, the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. This visionary Australia is still undiscovered. Captain de Quiros did not see it, and we still don’t see it, but we are beginning to catch glimpses of it. Some of use are, like Jacob, waking up from our sleep or cultural stupor, as Ronald Conway put it, and realizing that the ground upon which we are walking is holy.
[…]
In the past, white people were merely tourists to the Center, but I submit that some of us have become pilgrims, in that we recognize we are visiting a holy place, and adopt an appropriately reverential attitude. […] WE have acquired a new sense of the sacredness of the Rock, which is no longer a monolith in a dead heart, but a symbolic marker or ‘icon’ in a living center. In mythological terms, Uluru Tata Tjuta has become for Australians an axis mundi, a center-point from which we gain our bearings and orientation. …we are increasingly mindful of the sacredness of the center, even if we huddle along the coast.
[…]
[Mircea Eliade] says that a people without a sense of the sacred is a people affliected by drabness, dullness and boredom. The human spirit has not been uplifted, there is no verticality or grandeur in life, and everything seems flat, amorphous and indistinct. […] To make sacred is to reveal a fixed point at the center of life:

In the homogenous and infinite expanse, in which no point of reference is possible and hence no orientation can be established, the hierophany [manifestation of the sacred] reveals an absolute fixed point, a center. (Eliade, 1959)

[…]The Rock is like a central pole, an axis mundi, which has suddenly given verticality to the whole country. It is the central pole of our continental tent, as it were, or the axis of our national marquee. […] Once the axis mundi has been established, the country is granted the gift of verticality, or at least the possibility of seeing the vertical in the ordinary and the everyday.

11. Down to Earth Divinity

As Tillich put it in his radical theology, God may no longer be believable as a ‘being’ up in the sky, but a new world opens when we see God as Being itself. ‘The God from whom we cannot flee is the Ground of our Being’ (Tillich 1949).

I have a feeling in my bones that there is a possibility of a creative religious explosion occurring early in the third millennium with the ancient land of Australia at the centre of it. (Charlesworth, 1992)

Chapter 11 Conclusion: Tracking the Sacred

1. Demystification in Reverse

Under the influence of the great cultural materialists and destroyers of illusions, Marx and Freud, I was instructed [as a student at university] to find infantile wishes behind concepts of God and deity, escapism behind the religious impulse, and Oedipal incest behind the desire for transcendental bliss. However, I have since come to see that we must work in reverse: today we need to ‘see through’ the messes and mishaps of secular society and look for the buried Gods or archetypes in them. Mircea Eliade puts the situation well when he writes that we should,

attempt a demystification in reverse: that is to say, we have to ‘demystify’ the apparently profane world… in order to disclose [its] ‘sacred’ elements, although it is, of course, an ignored, camouflaged, or degraded ‘sacred’. (Eliade, 1969].

2. The Degraded Sacred and Alcoholism in White and Black Society

We place media celebrities and political personalities upon altars, viewing them as a sort of pantheon of deities in a secular heaven. We expect this political program or that human relationship to grant us paradise, utopia, or a glimpse of divine grace, and not surprisingly we frequently lapse into a slough of despond and depression, cursing life for failing us again. We are strangely content to be unconsciously possessed by religious expectations and transcendental desires, but, perversely, we will not allow these expectations and transcendental desires a religious outlet or goal, but must always direct these desires toward the human and material level.
We seek all manner of substitutes for spiritual satisfaction. Drug addiction and the burgeoning drug epidemic is an unconscious and miscarried expression of the need to find ecstatic release from the prison-house of the ego. Despite our intellectual dedication to rational and egotistical goals, we unconsciously crave an experience of the nonegoic and the transcendent, which is artificially but destructively reproduced in drugs.
This is especially the case with Australia’s favourite drug, alcohol. […] We see the problem focused in particular in Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal people have been adversely affected by the traumatic disappearance of spirit in their lives, and I am referring to spirit as it has been enshrined in rituals, ceremonies, initiation rites and spiritual attitudes. […]
To shift from a symbolically saturated conscious reality, to the one in which most of us experience today, namely, a desacralized world in which little or nothing is sacred, was too great a shock for Aboriginal people. It is, actually, a shock for any human community, but more so for a people that had been steeped in sacred consciousness for millennia. […] …the usual political analyses of the Aboriginal crisis fails to take into account the existential impact of the loss of the sacred. […]
This religious dimension of the Aboriginal crisis is simply not understood by mainstream secular culture, and not even by some of the good-natured and well-intentioned people who try to attend to the problems of Aboriginal communities. In addition to the obvious external problems wrought by colonization and dispossession of land, the spiritual problem of the loss of sacred space and straying into a world devoid of ontic substance is the hidden dimension of the crisis.
[…]
Australian social attitudes tend to be constricted, overly rational, at times cynical and often pessimistic. It is little wonder that alcohol has become such a huge attraction in this country, because alcohol has the effect of loosening our ties to rationality and opening us to dimensions of the psyche that say Yes, instead of No. It was William James who first tracked this thirst for alcohol as a religious problem:

The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionable due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticism of the sober hour. Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes. […] It brings its votary from the chill periphery of things to the radiant core. It makes him for the moment one with truth. (James, 1902)

The fact is that we cannot stand our orderly, rational prison all the time. There are times when we must break out, and ‘Friday night spirituality’ (as I have called it) has become a kind of ceremonial release for many Australians who are caught in rationality most of the week. […] …in a secular culture, we do not know how to transcend the normal state of consciousness, except through eating, drinking and various kinds of substance abuse.
[…]
By day and during the week, we carefully erect an Apollonian structure around ourselves that by night and during the weekend we feel compelled to tear down. […] The word ‘ecstasy’ comes from the Greek root ek stasis, to stand outside the self. If we do not cultivate a nonrational or symbolic reality or find life ‘outside’ the ego, inferior ecstasy will invade the body and psyche, destroying both in a disorderly spectacle.
[…] …with the sudden collapse of their Dreaming, and with spirit, soul and meaning shattered by colonization, detribalisation and loss of ancestral lands, the enticement to negative forms of transcendence is accentuated. […] The human spirit must have transcendence, either positively in cultural religious forms, or negatively in substance abuse and self-destruction. […]
Jung was indirectly involved in the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he realized that to combat the negative power of alcohol, one would need to discover or rediscover a spiritual life.

…alcohol in Latin is spiritus and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum. (Jung, 1961)

Jung means by this cryptic Latin phrase that only an experience of spirit can contradict and cancel the effects of an addiction to the… ‘spirit’ of alcohol.

3. Unconscious Factors in Sexuality, Consumerism and Incest

The so-called sex revolution is an unconscious expression of the archetypal desire to connect in ecstatic and releasing ways with an other. In our secular world the other has lost its spiritual aspect and has become an ‘other’ human being… . Often, we look for an other man or woman in our lives, since it is the illicit affair that sometimes carries more psychical and archetypal resonance than the partner to whom we are committed. Connection with the other leads to forbidden and taboo sexual liaisons with the secretive other, to that which is not part of our conscious world. We see how easily the unconscious desire for the sacred becomes expressed as promiscuous sexuality or as an erotic and personal parody of the union of self with the divine.
[…] Often the dreams of such persons will indicate that their erotic feeling must be moved from the human to the divine, and dreams may put forward powerful archetypal symbols to help transform psychic energy from one level to the other. Dreams strive to come to our psychological assistance, but very often they are not heard or properly understood, especially if interpreted according to the sexual and reductive theories of mainstream psychoanalysis, whence their great attempts to create symbols of transformation are tragically defeated by the materialist cast of mind that interprets their meaning.
[…] It is not that material things are bad or that sex or money are evil. This is the world-denying position of old-fashioned, pre-psychological and puritanical religions. It is rather that material things, money, drugs, sex, relationships, are often invested with inappropriate spiritual longings and inhuman archetypal expectations.
[…] We overburden the physical by asking it to… produce miraculous satisfactions. […] When the sacred falls into the unconscious it becomes demonic, generating psychosomatic symptoms, irrational compulsions, obsessions and other mental disorders.
Where have the Gods got to in secular and enlightened times? Jung replies that ‘the Gods have become diseases’ (Jung, 1929). Having fallen from heaven, the Gods reappear in the unconscious with a vengeance.
[…]
The urge for the sacred has become demonic… . […] As Jung put it to Bill W: spiritual hunger has fallen under the influence of ‘the evil principle prevailing in this world’.

4. The Modern Denial and The Search for Freedom

The rationalist denial of the sacred simply gives rise to a darker, more morbid and morose, form of bondage, because it is an unconscious and unknowing bondage to archetypal forces.  […] ‘Modern nonreligious man forms himself by a series of denials and refusals, but he continues to be haunted by the realities that he has refused and denied’ (Eliade, 1959).

5. The Limitations of Humanism

The history of modernity and the last few hundred years is the history of the ego’s struggle for absolute autonomy and freedom.
[…]
Despite its political and social achievements, humanism has left us culturally impoverished and spirituality bankrupt. […] …the soul and spirit find no solace or nourishment… . […]
The great religions have long taught that the ego… cannot achieve absolute freedom. […] As a popular saying has it, the ego makes a good servant but a lousy master. […]
This is the central paradox of many religions, as it is of Jungian psychology: only by entering into deliberate service can the individual become free. […] The modern individual, paradoxically speaking, only achieves a degree of freedom when he renounces the illusion of complete independence, and accepts, along with ancient and premodern man, that he exists in relationship with an other who must be propriated, served and recognized. […] Absolute freedom is the construction of a power-oriented ego which believes it can rule alone in the house of personality and in the outside world. [….] As Joseph Henderson writes, ‘The hero’s symbolic death becomes a sign that a new level of psychic maturity has been achieved’ (1964).

6. The Death and Rebirth of Spirit

The death of the spirit is a worldwide cultural phenomenon, which is hardly unique to Australia. In this book, I have been sketching the regional enactment of this archetypal drama.
[…]
Beyond the death of the old one can discern much new life and cultural development. Our old style of heroic consciousness is finished but a new style of consciousness is in the process of being born. The new style will be closer to nature and the elemental world, closer to the soul and the feminine, to intuition and feeling, to the values of the earth and the body.
[…]
…we may discern a culture which is trying to ‘right’ itself, to restore a sense of balance between conscious and unconscious, society and earth, ego and soul.

7. The Rise of the Feminine

Initially, this means that the cultural pendulum needs to swing in the opposite direction, and to emphasize the values which have been suppressed. All the elements that have been denied by the patriarchal spirit, including the feminine principle, the soul, earth, nature and the body have to be given room for expression.
[…]
The early feminist revolution generated a warrior consciousness that was as far removed from certain crucial feminine elements as patriarchy itself. But now the neglected soul and the feminine realm of Eros and connectedness call for our attention, and I am not sure whether old-style feminism can do much about this.
[…] The feminine principle has subtleties and complexities that popular movements seem unable to explore.

8. The Activation of The Indigenous Archetypal Figure

In the same way that feminism should not stop at politics and external life, but needs to explore the emotional and spiritual underpinnings of the feminine, so too the new concern with Aboriginality must not stop at external interests but needs to go more deeply into the interior life and discover the indigenous person within. […] …there is an internal dimension to reconciliation that the purely political approach is unable to appreciate (Tacey 2000).
[…]
We can muster all the good intentions and moral correctness that we can find, but unless we discover some deeper, transformative relationship with place our good intentions will be in vain and we will only be half-hearted about reconciliation and ecological matters. […]
One way to conceptualize the necessary changes that have to occur is to speak of the need for non0indegenous Australians to get in touch with the indigenous person within. […] In this land, we begin with the thesis of European consciousness and are faced with the antithesis of Aboriginal Dreaming. The synthesis of these factors is a most exciting prospect, and I can see signs of it in our developing culture, literature, music and social awareness. Aboriginal people are of necessity becoming Europeanized—they are forced to do this in order to survive. Without this development, they are in danger of being eradicated by the demonic juggernaut of progress. The Aboriginal leaders I have met fully understand the gravity and seriousness of their situation. They realize the ‘old ways’ are over, and although some dream of a return to the past, most recognize that a new dispensation is ahead. Transformation is an urgent imperative.
Non-indigenous Australians are being aboriginalized in their sleep, as Lawrence saw, and as Les Murray recognizes. This is a necessary step in the volution of consciousness in this land. In our sleep we are gaining fragments of the Dreaming, and something deep and strange in this land is entering our souls. […] [Jungs] pioneering reflections need to be taken into account by anyone who is interested in national differences and the process by which the colonizer is gradually ‘colonized’ by the culture that has been subdued. Aboriginal people have their own theory on this: the spirits of the land get into the souls of those who are born here… . It is a remarkable idea, and it is not something that should be lightly dismissed by a rational attitude.
[…] The contemporary black African writer, Malidoma Some, has taken up Jung’s invitation and has written on the idea of an indigenous ‘archetype’:

There is an indigenous person within each of us. The indigenous archetype within the modern soul is in serious need of acknowledgement. A different set of priorities dwells there, a set of priorities long forgotten in Western society. (Some, 1993)

9. At The Edge and On Edge

The patriarchal heroic ego still reigns in the conscious sphere, in our political and social institutions, in the uppermost layers of experience. But down below, beneath the surface, a new era is being prepared, which is already anticipated by new kinds of spirituality, feminist theology and deep ecology. We are at the edge of a new experience of the sacred. The world is at this same edge, although it is currently ‘on edge’, fearing that the worst will happen. […]
Australia is uniquely placed not only to demonstrate this transformation [of] consciousness, but to act as a leading example to the world. […] Although traditionally at the edge of the world, Australia may well become the center of attention as our transformational changes are realized now and in the future.


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